We’ve Lost a Great Actor and a Big Fan – Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper was a Cigar Aficionado and a Modern Art CollectorDennis Hopper passed away on Saturday, May 29th from prostate cancer. His acting career extends across five decades and during that time he inspired many. At Cuban Crafters we’re big fans of the actor, and Dennis Hopper was a big fan of our cigars.

People know Hopper as an Academy and Emmy Award nominated actor, an artist, photographer and collector of modern art. We know Dennis Hopper as all of the above, and also as a sophisticated cigar smoker and cigar collector. Dennis Hopper loved his cigars and while collector’s don’t usually consume their collection, Dennis Hopper Smoking a CigarHopper did, and often.  In the art world Hopper was among the world’s top 100 collectors of modern art. As a photographer his works have been displayed in museums and galleries throughout the world. As a fellow cigar smoker, he experimented with different brands of cigars but seemed to always smoke Cubans when doing it publicly.

Hopper enjoyed sharing stories about his life and about cigars. His favorite Cubans were Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. As for non-Cubans he would occasionally smoke Cuban Crafters Cabinet Selection (the 60 ring gauge Chairman), Dennis Hopper Enjoying a Cigar and Flipping CardsLa Carolina, Medina 1959 Miami Edition and Don Kiki Red and Brown Label cigars. He was introduced to Cuban Crafters cigars through a sampler pack a friend bought for him, and he preferred the medium to full-bodied large ring gauge cigars.

How many cigars did Dennis Hopper smoke daily? No one really knows but filmmaker George Romero was once quoted as saying “We spent more money on Dennis Hopper’s cigars than it cost us to make Night of the Living Dead”. Of course that was an exaggeration but Hopper did smoke quiet a few cigars daily.

Dennis Hopper in Easy RiderIn 1955 Dennis Hopper got his first big break in Rebel Without a Cause, starring with James Dean. In 1956 Giant elevated him even further. After that came Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Trip, Cool Hand Luke, Hang ’em High and then he co-wrote, directed and starred alongside Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider. Thereafter it was True Grit with John Wayne, Apocalypse Now with Marlon Brando, Rumble Fish (a film by Francis Ford Coppola), The Osterman Weekend, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers, Black Widow, The Pick-up Artist, Flashback, Super Mario Bros., Speed, Search and Destroy, Waterworld, Basquiat, Knockaround Guys with John Malkovich, George Romero’s Land of the Dead, Sleepwalking with Charlize Theron, Swing Vote and An American Carol.

Regardless of your age or interests, there’s at least one movie that you have seen with Dennis Hopper in it. Now that’s a real legacy to leave behind. To Dennis Hopper, this cigar I’m lighting up right now is for you!

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Best of the Best Cigar

Best of the Best Cigar Award
For those who enjoy the luxury lifestyle the Robb Report’s June issue is a must-read. It’s the issue that publishes the annual “Best of the Best” awards. The award recognizes products and services of excellence. For 2010 the “Best of the Best” award goes to …(drum roll)… Berger & Argenti for their CLASICO cigar.  Robb Report selected the Berger & Argenti Clasico based on its superior quality, craftsmanship and value.

Here’s what Robb Report said:

‘It is unusual for a new cigar brand to garner praise from virtually every individual who smokes it, but that is what seems to have happened with the Berger & Argenti CLASICO (www.bergerargenti.com; $4.50 – $7.50 depending on shape), a joint venture between brothers Albert and Michael Argenti of Miami-based Cuban Imports and Enrique ‘Kiki’ Berger of Miami’s Cuban Crafters. The CLASICO’s distinctive flavor is creamy, with hints of caramel and cocoa, thanks to its well-aged Ecuadorian Connecticut-seed Desflorado wrapper, Cuban-seed Nicaraguan filler, and Nicaraguan Corojo binder. The impressive full-bodied smoke is available in four sizes: the 4 ½ x 46 corona gorda, 5 x 50 rothschild, 5 ¾ x 50 belicoso, and 7 x 50 Churchill. The CLASICO’s unpretentious band and box hardly do it justice, but the cigar is aptly named, for it is, indeed, a classic.’

–Richard Carleton Hacker, Robb Report

Berger & Argenti Clasico CigarsBerger & Argenti CLASICO® cigar is comprised of meticulously blended bold and deeply aged Nicaraguan filler tobaccos cultivated at Tabacalera Esteli, its rich farmland widely considered by cigar makers as among the finest in Nicaragua. The Cuban seed Nicaraguan fillers are sheathed in a sumptuous Nicaraguan Corojo binder and skillfully enveloped in a stalk-cut, molasses-colored Ecuadorian Connecticut seed ‘Desflorado’ wrapper; exhibiting a well-balanced, full-bodied character bursting with a confluence of sweet and spicy flavors. It offers exceptional value through its impeccable craftsmanship. It’s totalmente hecho a mano, completely crafted by hand, and fashioned with a mounted, triple cap at the head of each cigar.

For over 30 years, Robb Report magazine has been the authority on connoisseurship for affluent consumers. Robb Report not only showcases the products and services available from the most prestigious luxury brands around the globe, but it also provides its sophisticated readership with detailed insight into a range of subjects. For connoisseurs seeking the very best that life has to offer, Robb Report is the essential luxury resource.

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Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist Visits Cuban Crafters Cigars

Florida Governor Charlie Crist at Cuban Crafters CigarsFlorida’s Governor Charlie Crist stopped by Cuban Crafters Cigars on Thursday, May 20th to drink Cuban coffee and smoke cigars with his friends and supporters. May 20th is celebrated as Cuba’s Independence Day. The Republic of Cuba gained independence from Spain on May 20, 1902 and went on to ratify the Cuban Constitution. The Governor was in Miami for the celebration.

Charlie Crist With Supporters at Cuban Crafters CigarsGovernor Crist is a candidate for the United States Senate and invited his Miami campaign volunteers to join him. Over 250 supporters joined Crist and his wife at Cuban Crafters. The Governor thanked each volunteer personally while they drank Cuban coffee, listened to old Cuban songs and smoked special Medina 1959 cigars that were hand made in the Miami cigar factory. The cigars had the Governor’s name on the cigar band.

Governor Charlie Crist with Cigar Maker J.L. Salazar (left) and Businessman David Miller (right)Crist is originally from Tampa, Florida and is a strong supporter of Florida’s cigar industry. He’s a cigar smoker and his support, as well as that from State Senator Rudy Garcia from Hialeah and State Representative David Rivera from Miami, stopped the state legislature from imposing a $1 a cigar tax last year.Charlie Crist Volunteer Smoking a Cigar at Cuban Crafters Cigars

Crist was too busy shaking hands and taking pictures with his supporters to smoke his cigar. Instead he placed the cigar in his shirt pocket for a more relaxing moment.

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Cigar Saves Woman

Cigar Saves WomanNow it’s a proven fact, smoking cigars can save your life. Well it’s not exactly as it sounds but in Jacksonville Florida a cigar saved a woman.

An 18-year-old woman who was kidnapped fought off her attacker with a cigar. The woman’s 23-year-old boyfriend was checking into a Motel 6 on Youngerman Circle in southwest Jacksonville when he left the 18-year-old woman in the car with the keys inside. While he was inside a man jumped in their Grand Marquis, pointed a gun at the woman and sped off with her still in the car. He saw it happening and thought “that they were going to probably kill her”.

After trying to get the man to release her, the kidnapped woman reached down into the car’s ashtray, pulled out a burning cigar and stuck it in her kidnapper’s face. The kidnapper let her go and grabbed his face. She took advantage of the situation and jumped out of the car. The car was moving at the time and the woman ended up with some minor bumps and bruises. The kidnapper was eventually caught by police. His face sustained minor burns but his ego was up in smoke.

You can see the news video from Channel 4 in Jacksonville.

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U.S. Senator Visits Cuban Crafters for a Miami Cigar

United States Vice President and Senators Smoking Cigars in the White HouseLong gone are the days when a United States Senator could smoke a cigar in the Senate Office Building, or the President and Vice President in the White House. Throughout history some of the most accomplished leaders were known to smoke cigars. John F. Kennedy and his brothers Ted and Robert F. Kennedy  proudly smoked cigars publicly. World leaders Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Bill Clinton and George Bush enjoyed cigars. It’s obvious that cigar smokers rule.

We were honored on Friday when United State Senator George LeMieux unexpectedly dropped by Cuban Crafters to smoke a Miami made cigar with us, and listen to the concerns of his constituents. United States Senator George LeMieux (Wearing a Tie) Enjoys a Cigar with J.L. Salazar (Far Left), Don Kiki and Jose Bermudez (Far Right)Senator LeMieux is the U.S. Senator from Florida and currently serves on the Armed Services Committee, the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, the Special Committee on Aging and the China Commission appointed by Senate Minority Leader McConnell. While he enjoyed his Medina 1959 Miami Edition Torpedo, both Don Kiki and J.L. Salazar had an opportunity to speak with him about the importance of the cigar industry in South Florida. Miami is currently the cigar mecca of the United States and the Senator was very impressed with the quality of the cigars being made in Miami by Cuban Crafters. His knowledge of cigars and of Miami’s needs made all of us supporters. We thank the Senator for his visit.

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Cigars and Rock and Roll in Cleveland

Cuban Crafters Cigars in Cleveland Hopkins International AirportI’ve smoked cigars in many different cities, but smoking cigars in Cleveland, the official home of Rock and Roll, was special. Working for Cuban Crafters I travel often and take the opportunity of lighting up wherever I go (while you still can). Cuban Crafters will soon be opening a cigar store and small cigar factory in concourse D of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. It’s the first time that any cigar company opens this kind of facility in an airport. We’re even sending one of our best Cuban born rollers to work in the Cleveland cigar factory. Concourse D is Continental Airlines’ hub so be on the lookout if you’re travels take you there.

During a recent visit to the city I enjoyed a Cuban Crafters Cabinet Selection Churchill after a perfect dinner at Michael Symon’s Lolita restaurant in the warehouse district. Michael Symon is a legendary chef from the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. We ordered 5 different plates and shared them all, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the creations. I had the hanger steak and it was exquisite, but whatever you order make sure that you get brussel sprouts as the vegetable with your meal. Yes I said brussel sprouts, no kidding. It was delicious and will make your night.Smoking Cigars and Listening to Rock and Roll

After the meal we had the opportunity to enjoy the city’s nightlife while smoking our cigars. What was obvious is that Clevelander’s love their cigars. Ohio has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation. We noticed that in the downtown area there aren’t too many cigar stores. The ones that are there have been there for many years and have a very nice relaxed atmosphere.

The following day we headed over to Cousin’s Cigars. Cousin's Cigars in Cleveland OhioWhen you walk into the cigar shop you immediately feel at home. There were four gentlemen sitting in cushioned chairs and smoking their cigars, while 2 employees of the cigar store enjoyed theirs behind the counter. Cigar smokers have an all-access pass at Cousin’s cigars. They go behind the counter to select their cigars or go into their five walk-in humidors. The humidors are food coolers that are cedar lined and have built-in cedar shelves. The temperature is kept in the 50s and the humidity in the 70s. Everyone gets a warm welcome. We left the store’s employees some Cuban Crafters’ Perfect cigar cutters and they immediately started using them on the cigars that the customers were buying.

Rock and Roll Hall of FameNow about Cleveland and why it’s the home of Rock and Roll. Cleveland Disc Jockey Alan Freed coined the phrase “Rock and Roll” on his Moondog Rock and Roll Radio Hour in the early 1950s. He is also credited with the first rock concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball on March 21, 1952. As a result, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland. I walked it and was very impressed with the exhibits. Did you know that Jim Morrison of the Doors was told by his father, a rear-Admiral in the U.S. Navy, to quit the “talentless band” he was in? This caused a 2-year rift between them. I learned John Lennon’s middle name was Winston, named after cigar smoking Prime Minister Winston Churchill. If you like Rock and Roll music, the Hall of Fame and Museum will be a fun and enlightening experience. And by the way, you can smoke cigars outside.

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Cuban Cigars – The Day Before They Were Banned

Cuban Cigars Ban and President KennedyThe ban on Cuban cigars was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in February 7, 1962. This video provides the details of the day before the Cuban cigar ban was signed into law, as well as the morning of February 7th. It’s of Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary. The day before Cuban cigars were banned he was summoned by the President for a very special presidential mission.

Pierre Salinger’s interview was filmed on May 3rd, 1991. It took place in the back room of Wilton’s restaurant in London’s Jermyn Street, at a lunch for a German Television station that filmed Pierre for a documentary about Cuban cigars. It provides a great look into cigar history, and how passionate cigar smokers are about their favorite brands and cigars.

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Maduro Cigars Get Five Stars

Maduros range in taste from mild to full-bodied, depending on the tobacco used and how the dark, almost black wrapper was processed. True Maduro cigar lovers enjoy the stronger taste that brings the earthy and dark chocolate tastes. Maduro Cigar J.L. Salazar y Hermanos Reserva Especial SerieThat’s why we conducted a small experiment with the J.L. Salazar y Hermanos Reserva Especial Series cigars. It’s a very limited edition cigar that is handmade in Nicaragua in small batches. Since the wrapper is extensively cured and aged, not many are available. Only 100 boxes or so are made monthly. As a result the cigar has not been rated by the major cigar publications. There just aren’t enough of them.

We took 20 cigar smokers who have been smoking cigars for at least 10 years. Many of the panelists were Cuban, most were not. All had experienced Maduros and liked them. Maduros - J.L. Salazar y Hermanos Cigar BoxA box of J.L. Salazar y Hermanos Reserva Especial Series Churchill Maduros was opened and passed out. They were all asked to review the cigar and to give it a final rating based on stars. One star was the lowest and five stars the highest. Here are the results, including some of the statements.

Most said that the cigar started out spicy or strong. It quickly mellowed out to smooth and flavorful. Some said that it was medium-bodied after the first inch while most said that it was still full body all the way through. Some said it was powerful yet very smooth, giving the impression of being medium-bodied when in fact it was full bodied. The tastes identified were cream, floral, bittersweet chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, licorice, leather, toasted nuts and earthy. All agreed that the burn was perfect and had a pure white ash. Only one had some burn issues but that could have been due to his proximity to the air conditioner vent that was blowing on him.

After smoking the cigars, here’s what some of them said:

“Didn’t want to put it down. It was a sad moment when it finally ended. Wanted to light up another one.”

“Very complex. It’s so smooth that you think it’s milder than it really is. Loved it.”

“I normally smoke the J.L. Salazar Toro. The Series Maduro cigars have all the same features plus more. Perfect balance between cocoa, cream and leather.”

We can include 17 others but in a nutshell, they were all about the same. Not one smoker made a negative remark. Even those who originally said it was a bit powerful in the beginning ended up smoking them to the nub. Can it be that they were adverse to making a derogatory statement because they got a free cigar? To make sure that they were honest about how they felt over this Maduro cigar, the ratings were anonymous. Each smoker was asked to give it from one to five stars, fold the ballot over so that no one can see their rating and put the paper into an open humidor. This way the ratings would validate their statements. The final results? An average of FIVE STARS.

On a personal level, I like the stronger Cuban-seed Habano tobacco cigars. The J.L. Salazar y Hermanos Reserva Especial Series have become my personal favorite. I try not to smoke it daily as you can’t smoke just one. The taste is so good that you want to light another a few minutes after finishing the cigar. It’s also what many of the panelists said.

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Medina 1959 Miami Edition Cigar Goes Habano

Medina 1959 Miami Edition is considered the finest cigar made in Miami. That’s saying a lot as Miami is now the cigar mecca of the United States. You’d think that even Cigar Maker Manuel MedinaManuel Medina, a Cuban cigar legend, would be satisfied with the success of his cigar. But when one of Miami’s well known aficionado walked into our Miami factory and challenged Medina to come up with an equally elegant and smooth cigar but with more power, he accepted the challenge. That was over a year ago.

Medina 1959 Miami Edition Habano CigarSince then Medina developed the new blend and is now making the Medina 1959 Miami Edition Habano in very limited quantities. They’re made in our Miami cigar factory, side by side with the original Medina 1959 cigars. This beauty tastes and burns as good as the cigars that Medina made when he was in charge of the H. Upmann and Davidoff factory in Havana, Cuba.

Handmade with an ultra-premium Cuban-seed Rojo Habano wrapper, the leaf’s rich oils give the cigar a bright shine that makes the cigar as pleasing to the eye as the mouth. While Cuban-seed Habano tobacco usually has protruding veins, this premium wrapper’s veins are barely visible. The full-bodied smoke starts with extremely smooth floral tastes that include toasted nuts, nutmeg, mild cooking spices and cream. You’ll quickly sense crisp waves of butterscotch and bittersweet dark chocolate. It’s a complex and exhilarating taste that only Medina can create. The cigar produces a perfectly white and even ash. That’s the result of extensively cured tobacco and perfect construction. While Medina personally makes some of them, he also supervises the Cuban born rollers that make the cigars. Some of them worked for him in Cuba, and all of them have years of experience making some of the world’s most expensive cigars in Cuba.

Since such few are made and the word is out about these cigars in Miami, they are only available in our Miami mega store. As they age and more become available, you’ll start seeing them in some of our dealers throughout the country. Until then, come by our Miami cigar megastore and enjoy one with Medina. By the way, the aficionado who challenged Medina loves them. His favorite size is the big Corona Gorda that’s 6 1/2 inches long with a large ring gauge of 64.

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Perfect Cigar Cutter Review – Latest Style

The Perfect cigar cutter was developed by Cuban Crafters so that cigar smokers never have to guess how much tobacco to cut off the cigar’s head when preparing it for smoking. It’s a patented Cuban Crafters exclusive and recently a new style was introduced. It’s a lighter version with a black anodized aluminum body. Like the other Perfect cutters, the blades are made with surgical grade stainless steel and are self-sharpening.

CigarObsession.com’s Bryan Glynn reviewed it recently and in addition to his opinion, shows exactly how to use it. We thank him for the cigar cutter review, and his outstanding photography.

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