Cincinnati Reds Celebrate Win by Smoking Cigars

Cincinnati Reds Team Owner Rob Castellini Smoking a CigarThe Cincinnati Reds won the the National League Central title on Tuesday at the Great American Ball Park and celebrated while the team’s owner, Bob Castellini, passed out cigars. They opened the champagne bottles and lit up the cigars. What’s wrong with that? Well according to state documents, five people who saw the celebration on their television sets from their home called-in complaining to the Department of Health that the team had violated Ohio’s indoor-smoking ban. We’re not kidding!

Lighting up cigars on such a big win is tradition. Other traditions are opening up champagne bottles that have been shaken and spraying them in the face of the team’s owner, coaches and players. Throwing away champagne should be considered more of a crime than smoking and enjoying victory cigars, yet no one complains about that. It’s not easy being a cigar smoker nowadays with all the crazy anti-smoking zealots roaming the streets, and watching television so they can say “gotcha”.

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Smokin in the Gables Cigar Event

Cuban Crafters Cigars Al Gutman with Berger and Argenti's Joey Oliva. Now that's a nice Ash!Smokin in the Gables was part of the First Annual Gables Hispanic Cultural Festival, held today in Coral Gables, Florida. The event was a big success, notwithstanding the rain and heat, with thousands showing up to enjoy the culture, smoke cigars and indulge in Latin food and drinks. Cuban Crafters Cigars was happy to be a sponsor and an active participant in its success.

Smokin In The Gables Cigar EventMost of the South Florida based cigar companies participated in one way or another. From El Rey del Habano Don Pepin to Don Kiki and J.L. Salazar, they were there passing out cigars and talking with fellow smokers.

The real star of the show was a good friend of Cuban Crafters Cigars, Berta Bravo. She rounded up community support for the event. Around town she’s known as the Guayabera Lady because of her Coral Gables shop where she hand makes some of the most exquisite Guayaberas this side of Havana. Cigar Smoking Berta Bravo, The Guayabera LadyBerta is a hard core cigar smoker. When she’s not in her guayabera store working side by side with her daughter Grace Sotolongo and her son, she’s at cigar stores enjoying Cuban style cigars or working for community organizations that assist those in need.

Berta, we enjoyed sharing the 12 hour event with you and look forward to next years bash!

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Smoking Cigars with Jerome Corsi and Rusty Humphries

Tim Bueler (far left), Cuban Crafters Employee Luis Alvarado holding an upside down Berger & Argenti (2nd from left), Cuban Crafters Operations Director Al Gutman (center), Rusty Humphries (2nd from right) and Dr. Jerome Corsi (far right)Author Jerome Corsi and Radio Host Rusty Humphries stopped by Cuban Crafters’ Mega Cigar Store to relax and enjoy cigars during their visit to Miami. They were in town for a conference and brought along publicist Tim Bueler. Dr. Corsi smoked his favorite Padron Aniversario, Rusty smoked a Medina 1959 Miami Edition Churchill followed by a Berger and Argenti Entubar Macho Corona, and Tim smoked a Medina 1959 Miami Edition Churchill.

Marco Rubio is Florida's Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate and an Avid Cigar SmokerThe author and the talk show host, both political conservatives, smoked their cigars while talking politics with other visiting cigar smokers and with Al Gutman, Cuban Crafters’ operations director. Both Corsi and Humphries are supporters of Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate in Florida for the United States Senate. Marco Rubio is a personal friend of Cuban Crafters’ principals and an avid fellow cigar smoker who enjoys Don Kiki Red Label cigars and Montecristo White Label cigars.

Dr. Jerome Corsi and Al Gutman at Cuban Crafters CigarsJerome R. Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D., has authored many books, including number 1 N.Y. Times best-sellers “The Obama Nation” and “Unfit for Command.” Along with serving as World Net Daily’s senior staff reporter, Corsi is the senior managing director at Gilford Securities.

Rusty Humphries is a radio host, conservative political commentator and songwriter. He has been named one of “America’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts” for 12 years in a row and was nominated as “Talk Personality Of The Year” by Radio & Records.Rusty Humphries Radio Show HostHumphries was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame as its youngest inductee ever and is ranked number 43 in the Talkers Magazine “Heavy Hundred” for 2008 and 38th in 2009. He also has a very popular web site www.Talk2Rusty.com.

Tim Bueler is a media and political consultant who is currently serving as the Director of Media Relations for the Minuteman Project, an immigration reform advocacy group. Tim has been covered in the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, the Berger and Argenti Entubar Quad Maduro CigarSan Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Times, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He has been profiled on NBC, CBS and Fox News, and has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor and on numerous radio stations around the country.

All three took home a Berger and Argenti Entubar Quad Maduro Robusto and promised to report back on the cigar after they smoked it. We’ll report on their individual reviews and look forward to seeing them in our cigar shop again.

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A Cigar and a Tobacco Leaf Are One and the Same

Cigar Tobacco LeafPremium Cigars are hand made with natural tobacco leaves and lots of skill. There aren’t any additional additives, other than natural tree sap glue. Yet under a proposed litter law in Ontario Canada, if you throw out a cigar or cigar butt  along or adjacent to a highway you will be fined from $2,000 to $3,000 Canadian dollars. If a tobacco plant growing alongside the same highway drops a leaf, nothing happens. Both the cigar and the tobacco leaf decompose at the same time, yet cigar smokers get punished for discarding this natural leaf. Even more ironic is that the criminal offense for possession of less than 30 grams of Marijuana in Canada carries a $1,000 fine, substantially less than that for discarding a cigar.

Rolling Stones Concert Cigar SmokingIt’s interesting what cigar smokers have to endure. A few years ago I invited Chico, the head of the largest tobacco growing co-op in Nicaragua, to a Rolling Stones concert in Miami, Florida. The concert was held in an open air stadium.  We were sitting in the best section, just 15 rows away from the stage. We sat there among the crowds and mid-way through the concert we decided to light our cigars. As we started puffing we heard the comments from other concert goers about how the smoke was bothering them. It was from both Spanish and English speaking Rolling Stones fans. After a few minutes we had two requests to put out our cigars and we obliged. They were good cigars so we tried to put them out gently so that we could relight them after the concert. Chico looked at me puzzled and said in Spanish “I don’t understand this country. Here we are enjoying our legal cigars and people are angry at us. Everyone else around us is smoking illegal marijuana and no one says a thing.”

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Rapper Jay-Z Plans to Retire With Cigars, Wine and Food

Jay Z on the cover of Cigar AficionadoRapper Jay-Z is a well known cigar smoker. His picture graced the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine and his albums have included pictures of him smoking a big cigar. Jay Z recently told the media that when he retires with his superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles, his plans are to do it the “Marlon Brando” way, on a secluded island of his own.

Jay-Z said the couple plans to retire to a private island to smoke cigars, drink fine wines and get fat. “That’s what I enjoy. That’s the payback for all the hard work. Beyoncé will be on the island too. But I don’t think she plans to get as fat as me. I’m gonna be fat.” He counts on meals from his “genius chef” who will cook.Jay-Z Cigar Smoking Album Cover

Jay Z has been smoking cigars for years. The 40 year old rapper and businessman prefers the larger ring gauge cigars, such as the Churchill cigars and the Medina 1959 Miami Edition Corona Gorda with a 64 ring gauge.

Jay-A and his wife Beyonce Knowles performingJay-Z co-owns The 40/40 Club, a sports bar chain; is part-owner of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets; is the creator of the clothing line Rocawear; is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings; one of the founders of Roc-A-Fella Records; and is the founder of Roc Nation. His music is listened to in every country of the world and he  holds the record for the most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200.

While there were rumors that his wife was trying to get him to quit smoking, recent pictures show that Beyonce Knowles is herself smoking cigars. During a recent music video shoot she was filmed smoking a cigar. Paparazzi photos also show Beyonce smoking a cigar while on vacation with Jay-Z.Beyonce Knowles smoking a cigar while on Vacation with Jay-Z

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Cigars, Rum and Olga Guillot in Cuba

Olga Guillot La Reina Del BoleroPre-Castro Cuba was a paradise known for cigars, rum and the music of Olga Guillot. Throughout her career Olga Guillot had 14 records that went gold and 10 platinum. She appeared in 20 movies and was the first Latin entertainer to perform in Carnegie Hall. The “Queen of the Bolero” was known among Cubans in the exile community as “Olga de Cuba”. To us Olga wasn’t a world known celebrity, she was family. Throughout the past 25 years we experienced the highs and lows of life together, comforting each other during difficult moments and celebrating the good ones.

Olga Guillot with JL Salazar at Cuban Crafters CigarsJust a few weeks ago Olga Guillot stopped by Cuban Crafters to visit, as was customary when she was in Miami. She had been traveling but rushed back to Miami because her sister was ill. Olga was 87 years old, strong and full of life. Together we enjoyed drinking Johnnie Walker Blue Label as I smoked cigars with her cousin who Olga Guillot At Cuban Crafters with City of Miami Commissioners Willy Gort and Francis Suarezwas visiting from New Jersey. She was concerned about her sister but was taking it well, and even sang part of one of her popular Spanish songs. Little did we know that it would be her last song. Olga Guillot passed away a few days later after suffering a heart attack.

Her wake and funeral was attended by thousands, all remembering Olga the mother, celebrity and Cuban patriot. I couldn’t help remembering some of her stories. After Fidel Castro took over Cuba the nightclubs and casinos were shut down by his government. Shortly thereafter she was contacted by Castro’s thugs who informed her of the limited venues where she can sing. At the time she was Cuba’s top performing artist. When they told her the songs that she can sing, and those she couldn’t, she fled the country and became an anti-Castro activist. Fidel Castro banned her music in Cuba and ordered that her name not be mentioned by anyone working for the state-owned television and radio stations. Castro erased her name from history in Cuba.

Olga Guillot Now Playing in HeavenOlga always did it her way, and left us as the star that she was. She went to the wake of a friend at night where she started feeling chest pains and discomfort. Thinking that it was just indigestion she headed home. In the early morning hours the pain was getting worse so her daughter told her that she was taking her to the hospital. She was rushed out in her nightgown when she stopped and demanded a dress. After getting dressed she put on her makeup. As they were getting ready to leave she stopped again, look down and said “I’m not going in these slippers, get me my high heel shoes”. Not wanting to argue with her, the daughter brought the shoes. They matched her dress. She took off her slippers and put on the shoes. As she walked out the door Olga looked back into her home and said that she wasn’t coming back and wanted to go out as Olga Guillot, the star.

Olga, we love you and miss you. Once a week I’ll look at the special gift you gave me for Hanukkah that sits on my desk and smoke a cigar thinking about all those good times when we celebrated together.

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Manly Men Smoke Cigars

Manly Men Smoke CigarsThe Chicago Tribune newspaper recently ran a photo of what a manly man is. The photo is of Mike Owens in Lake Michigan, smoking a cigar. The article by John Kass has a subtitle that says it all “Tribune photo captures Chicago’s iconic Manly Man wading in Lake Michigan smoking a cigar, not eating a wimpy snack.”

After the photo appeared in the paper he showed it to a woman “That’s manly,” said the woman. “He could lose a few pounds, he’s bald but he doesn’t care, he’s smoking a cigar, he’s saying to the world, ‘I’m (bleeping) golden.'” How true.

The article goes on to say that “Though he appears to be only a few feet from the beach, the water comes up past his ample mid-section…And though he’s in the water, he has no intention of actually swimming. He’s still got his sunglasses on and his hair is dry. How’s a man supposed to enjoy a cigar in the lake if he’s swimming? It’s just not done. So it’s obvious that here’s a guy who doesn’t give two figs what you think. It’s not about looks. It’s about attitude.”

Actor Robert Downey jr Smoking a CigarThe article continues on manly men and cigars. “… in the cigar department, if you leave the band on your cigar to advertise that you’re smoking an expensive maduro, you’re not declaring manly manhood. You’re declaring that you’re a “spacone,” a showoff. Cubans are some of the manliest men in the world and make the finest cigars. And they never leave the band on. Not even Cuban women do that. English gentlemen also snip the band. When they pour you a fine, exquisite and expensive after-dinner drink, they don’t tell you how much it costs or how old it is. Instead they say something like, “Try this rather inferior port”.”

While most cigar related articles in the media have lately been derogatory about smoking, it’s nice to see one that tells the truth about men who smoke cigars.

Real Men Smoke Cigars

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Florida’s Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp Visits Cuban Crafters Cigars

Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp (center in suit) with Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn (his right) Don Kiki (his extreme right) Representative Dorothy Bendross Mindingall (his left) Store Manager Miguel Freire (her left) and J.L. Salazar (at end)Florida’s Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp recently stopped by Cuban Crafters Cigars to enjoy Cuban coffee, a specially made “pan con chorizo” sandwich and great cigars. Governor Kottkamp was in Miami on official business and while passing through Little Havana found some time to hang-out and relax at Cuban Crafters Cigars’ superstore. Coincidentally, City of Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn and State Representative Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall were at the store when the Lieutenant Governor arrived. They took the opportunity to greet him.

Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp is an occasional cigar smoker who prefers medium bodied cigars with lots of taste. Florida Lt. Governor & Crew Eating Pan Con ChorizoHe has traveled throughout the state of Florida and has visited cigar factories and cigar companies in Miami and Tampa. He clearly understands the rights of cigar smokers in Florida and the importance of the state’s cigar industry.  Miami, Florida is the mecca of America’s cigar industry. While he didn’t have enough time to enjoy a cigar during his visit, he bought some Miami hand made Medina 1959 Churchills for the road.

Lt. Governor Kottkamp is an attorney who before becoming an elected official served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Joe Eaton and U.S District Court Judge Sidney Aronovitz. He first ran for public office in 2000, when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He was subsequently re-elected in 2002 and 2004 and has been Florida’s Lt. Governor since January 2, 2007.

Pan Con Chorizo at Cuban Crafters VIP Wine ClubFor those who are curious, a pan con chorizo sandwich is made with Spanish sausage and manchego cheese (both imported from Spain) in Cuban bread and topped off with the little potato sticks. That and the Cuban sandwich are delicious local favorites.

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Cigar Smoking Comedian Jamal Hattar

Cigar Aficionado Jamal HattarWalk into Cuban Crafters Cigar Superstore in Miami and you’ll find an eclectic group smoking cigars and drinking Cuban coffee. Some you’ll recognize, as they are Miami’s most notable cigar makers. These legendary cigar makers stop by the store to enjoy the cigars, coffee and a game or two of dominoes. Others are cigar aficionados who enjoy the relaxed environment. One who stands out for his knowledge about cigars and his funny stories about life in America is comedian Jamal Hattar.

Jamal Hattar wears many different hats. At Cuban Crafters he’s a cigar enthusiast. At UVA Restaurant and Lounge in Coral Gables, Florida he’s the owner and manager. At the IMPROV comedy club in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach he’s the funny comedian who gets on the stage with a cigar in hand and makes fun of life in the Middle East and in the USA. To those who know him well, he’s the mild-mannered long-haired intellectual with a PH. D. in Economics, a Masters degree in Finance and who always has a cigar between his fingers.

Jamal has been smoking cigars for over five years. He finds it relaxing and with his hectic lifestyle, it’s a way to relieve stress. A Cigar from J.L. Salazar to Comedian Jamal HattarAs he put it, “My theory is that stress is bad for you. Cigars relieve stress so cigars must be good for you. I smoke between 4 to 5 cigars a day.” When asked about the cigars he prefers, his response was “I was inspired by President Clinton,” as he smokes a large 60 ring gauge cigar. “If Clinton used a big cigar like this Medina 1959 Miami Edition Corona Gorda, Monica would’ve kept her mouth shut.” He continues, “I like full-bodied cigars that burn evenly and give you a nicotine buzz. I prefer darker and Maduro wrappers. I’ve smoked every Cuban and non-Cuban brand out there. My favorites are the J.L. Salazar Series Maduro Churchill and the Medina 1959 Miami Edition Corona Gorda.”

Born in Jerusalem, Israel he came to the United States in 1978 and jokes about being from the Middle East. “Because I’m from the Middle East, after 911 I got a Christmas card in the end of September. I was wondering if the mail in the Middle East was so bad that the Christmas card was 9 months late, or if somebody was very early in sending the card to me. When I read it, it said “We know when you are sleeping, we know if you’re awake, we know if you’ve been bad or good.” It was signed by Homeland Security.” “I started looking out my window at home and there was always a government car out there. So I called ADT Security Services and cancelled the alarm service for my house. They asked me why I was cancelling and I told them cause I now have the Homeland Security Company for my house. Why pay when someone watches your house for free in America.”

Cigar Maker Don Kiki Talking Cigars With Comedian Jamal HattarJamal started comedy in 2008. “I always enjoyed making people laugh. It started out as joke.” He regularly performs stand-up comedy at Improv Miami, Improv Ft. Lauderlade, Improv West Palm Beach, the South Beach Comedy Festival and the Deco Drive television show. Some of his acts are posted on YouTube and on his site jamalhattar.com. He considers himself an equal opportunity insulter and jokes about the difference in cultures. “One of the things about being in the United State is my son. My wife asked me to talk to my son about safe sex. So I told my son when you go out with a girl, make sure her family doesn’t find out. That’s safe sex in the Middle East.”

UVA Lounge in Miami FloridaSeven years ago he opened his restaurant and night club UVA in Coral Gables, Florida. It’s now a Miami landmark and during weekends he’ll stand at the door as the patrons stand in line to get in. It’s considered one of the best places in Miami for salsa, and is open 5 days a week from 5 pm to the wee hours of the morning. More information is available at UvaLounge.com.

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Nicaragua’s Tourism Minister Visits Cuban Crafters

Nicaraguan Tourism Minister Mario Salinas (Left with his daughter), Don Kiki, Nicaragua President's Son Laureano Ortega, Consulate General Luis Martinez, J.L. Salazar and Alberto GutmanNicaragua’s Minister of Tourism Mario Salinas and Laureano Ortega, son of President Daniel Ortega, visited Cuban Crafters to talk cigars and tourism. They were accompanied by the Honorable Luis Martinez, the Nicaraguan Consulate General in Florida. The cigar industry in Nicaragua plays a vital role in their economy. In the tobacco areas of the north economists estimate that nearly 30 percent of the population, about 500,000 people, work directly or indirectly in the cigar industry. Estelí, where we have our farms, is the center of the cigar-producing and tobacco-growing region.

One of the areas Minister Mario Salinas and Laureano Ortega are focusing in on is the potential tourism that the cigar industry can bring to Nicaragua. Cigar tourism has the potential of bringing cigar aficionados from throughout the USA. The tours would bring cigar smokers to cigar factories and tobacco fields, sort of like the wine tours that are conducted in Napa Valley, California. The visitors will have the opportunity to meet the cigar makers, see how the cigars are hand made, sample a variety of different cigars, learn about the local culture and eat the local cuisine.

Cigar Enthusiast, Comedian and Businessman Jamal Hattar with Nicaragua's Tourism Minister Mario Salinas on left and President's Son Laureano Ortega on right.After an enjoyable meeting with “Don Kiki” Berger and J.L. Salazar that included smoking Miami and Nicaragua made cigars, and drinking California wine, the Nicaraguan dignitaries toured the large 20,000 square foot Cuban Crafters facility. They offered their support to the cigar industry and their intentions to assist entities that offer tours for cigar enthusiasts.

Mario Salinas Pasos has been the Tourism Minister of Nicaragua since November 2007. During the 80s, Mario Salinas held the positions of Secretary General for the Ministry of Transportation, Vice-Minister of Air Transport and President of the Tourism Corporation, HOTELINSA. From 1988 to September 1990 he was President of the Tourism Corporation, COTUR. From 1991 to 2007 he was the President of the Sooner Group, a company that develops hotels, tourism and commerce. He was appointed by the President of the Republic of Nicaragua as the new Tourism Minister and President of the Nicaragua Tourist Board (INTUR). Minister Salinas has a degree in Architecture from the University of Naples, Italy and a Post-Graduate Degree in Urban Development from the University of Milan. The Minister’s main objective is the development of sustainable tourism in Nicaragua.

Laureano Ortega is son of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and is an advisor to ProNicaragua, a public and private partnership that promotes and facilitates foreign investments in Nicaragua. Laureano is a cigar smoker and recently announced that the Consulate General Office in Miami will house a tourism office in order to promote Nicaragua as a tourist destination. Tourism is the 2nd largest industry in Nicaragua.

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