off to Havana…again…

Sumeet and I decided to hit up Havana again for a little get away. The way we see it, Havana’s cheap enough (comparable to an all-inclusive to mexico etc) and it offers the best bang for your buck. We can hit the East Havana beaches during the day and head out to the many clubs during the night. We’re staying at the same casa as last time, right in front of the Hotel Nacional for 30$ CUC’s a night. Other then the beaches and nightlife, there’s also the people, music, art, history, cigars and never have to feel threatened roaming the streets while intoxicated 🙂 We’ve also made some friends there now so we’re looking forward to seeing them again.

I got an email from our friend Nakamura, he’ll be in Havana for a couple days while we are in town. He’s basically a rockstar in Havana, every bar we stopped at the employees knew him, like Norm from cheers “Nakaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. He imports/exports stuff from/to Havana/Japan so he’s pretty well known and spends about 3-4months a year there, and loves the country and its people.

I think this will be one of our last times to capture Cuba as it is now, change is inevitable there and its just a matter of time before we see the embargo lifted and relations between Cuba and the U.S . I think the new leaders in Cuba will look to have some sort of relations with the U.S. which will be good for everyone but Cuba will need to deal with all negatives that will come with that, retaining their traditions, culture etc, it wont be easy. I’m looking forward to talking about this with some of our friends there, should be interesting.

First stop will be our casa to drop our stuff off then off to the Partagas store for some rum and a cigar and some conversation with the guys there.

Havana Corner: The Cuban Cigar Fast Lane

Came across this article..sounds like a great smoke.  I’m not a fan of the regular Edmundo (even though I’m told their starting to taste better these days) but I’ll have to give these a try when I’m in Havana next week.  Also looking forward to seeing the guys at the Partagas shop again, Kiki and Abel are great, Abel actually invited me to the annual dinner/celebration they have coming up in April but I wont be able to make that.

I found the perfect “all-purpose” cigar yesterday at the Partagas factory shop. It’s the Por Larrañaga Petit Corona. The cabinet boxes of 50 are to die for, and at $165 a box, they’re reasonably priced. The cigar delivers wonderfully balanced aromas and flavors of blanched nuts, cedar, honey and tobacco. What a wonderful smoke. 92 points, unblind tasting. I have been smoking them like my children eat gummy bears in England!

While the price is reasonable, if you are paying in dollars you have to add a 20 percent commission, as well as an exchange rate of .898 cents to the Cuban convertible peso. I don’t think the global stock market, European Central Bank or any other international monetary institution has anything to do with the exchange rate in Cuba. You even get charged 11 percent commission on credit card purchases.

Nothing I can do about all that. So if you are here, you have to pay. Unfortunately, the prices for cigars are about the same as buying in less expensive markets in Europe, such as Spain, or even Switzerland. Much of the incentive for buying Cuban cigars as a tourist on the island is gone.

Still, there’s nothing more satisfying than kicking back in one of the top cigar shops on the island — such as Partagas, Havana Club or Quinta — and shooting the breeze with one of the merchants, smoking and maybe having a coffee, or rum or two. That’s the good life…

I was speaking with Enrique (Kiki) Lopez at the Partagas shop; he, along with director Abel Exposito, is a rock star of cigars in Havana. Lopez was saying how his customers are loving the Petit Edmundo, or the “perfect one-coffee” cigar. He said you can smoke it in 10 or 15 minutes and it delivers all the richness and flavor you could expect out of quick-fix smoke. It’s about the same time it takes to enjoy a good Cuban coffee, he says. I couldn’t agree more.