After Thanksgiving the other day, I wanted to become a recluse. Not because I didn’t want to spend time with family, but because I wanted to enjoy a cigar. I have no idea why, but many people find cigars offensive. For this reason, finding a place where you can enjoy one is not easy. Many restaurants offer smoking sections, but very very few of them actually allow cigar or pipe smoking. To enjoy those, your only option is to go to the bar, but even there you might be hard pressed to find a bar that allows it as well. Since Calloway Gardens is geared more towards a family environment, I knew that it might be difficult, but I was going to try.
Staying at the Mountain View Inn, I walked around a bit to see if there were any areas that would be conducive to enjoying a fine cigar. Calloway Gardens is known for golfing and many golfers enjoy a cigar on the links, but that is an outdoor activity, so even though the gift shop sold cigars, I had not expectation that they would allow this activity indoors.
My first stop was the restaurant. I knew that there was probably no way that they had a cigar friendly area, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. They suggested that I check the bar. The bar was busy, but I did see ash trays, so I grabbed a seat at a small table and ordered a Makers Mark, neat. Even though I was in the bar, I still wanted to ask if it was OK. Even though I enjoy cigars, I try to be respectful of those that don’t. The last thing that I want to do is offend someone. With cigars it seems that people either love them or hate them. So if someone dislikes them, they usually make their preferences known and it’s never pretty.
When I first sat down, a woman and her daughter sat down next to me. Even if it was allowed, I knew that my chances were good that the ladies would not appreciate it, so I waited and enjoyed my bourbon. After they left, an older gentleman with three ladies sat down almost immediately. Again, I didn’t want to risk it. After they left though, I went up to the bar to ask if cigar smoking was allowed. Just because ash trays are provided, you should never assume that cigar smoking is OK. The bartender informed me that cigars were not allowed.
At this point I was ready to go outside. It was raining, but maybe I could find a dry chair under an overhang or something. However, I took a step further and asked the bartender if there was any place on the grounds that allowed cigars. That’s when she informed me that there was an adjacent room that used to be the bar. They had an adequate ventilation system and that I could smoke there. There was no service in there, so I’d have to walk back to order from the bar, but I could at least enjoy a cigar.
I grabbed my Makers Mark and my bag and made my way in there. Much to my dismay, the room had quite a few people in it. Most were just hanging out, but there were kids playing a the pool table, several were watching TV and others were just talking. I found a small table that was as out of the way as possible. My biggest fear was that someone was going to come up and ask me to put out my cigar. Since this was the only place at the inn that allowed cigar smoking, I would have to defend my right to smoke and suggest that they find some other place to go. That conversation was not going to be friendly and I really did not want to have it.
Besides, it’s not like I was going to light up a Swisher Sweet. I smoke very nice cigars and the one I had on me was one of the best. It’s a special edition cigar that is only made for the Holidays. It’s made by Arturo Fuente and it’s called a Reserva Xtra Viejo. The shape is called a box pressed torpedo in maduro. Box pressed means that the cigar is somewhat square. Torpedo means that it’s cone shaped. The front of the cigar (where you light it is big and the tip is small. Why is this important? Well fine cigars are rolled by hand and only the best rollers can roll a torpedo shape. Maduro means that it’s a very dark rich leaf. I compare maduro cigars to espresso. A regular cigar would be considered coffee, but maduro is espresso. Being so rich though, means that they can also be more pungent.
After setting up my Dana and making a place for me to type and enjoy my cigar and bourbon, I lit up my Arturo Fuente. The flavor was sublime. I’ve been choosing the Helix brand as my regular cigar and by regular, that means one or two a month. Helix cigars are good, but not as good as an Arturo Fuente. They are less expensive though. My usual cigar – an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature – runs around $12 – $16 dollars a piece. A Helix runs around $4 – $5. It took a little bit to get the cigar lit, but that could have been because of my being so timid about offending someone. Once it was lit though, it was a great cigar. The draw was smooth and the flavor was rich and almost buttery. I tasted hints of dark chocolate and coffee and the burn was very even. It’s one of the best cigars I’ve ever had.
Unfortunately I noticed that the room cleared slowly, but surely. Maybe they had plans, or maybe my cigar chased them out of the room. I don’t know, but no one came up and asked me to stop. Instead, I enjoyed sipping my bourbon and puffing on my cigar All the while, I caught up on my travelogue and happily wrote away. It was the perfect way to end a great Thanksgiving day.