Real Cuban Cigars in Banderas Bay
The following information is contributed by a devotee of Cuban Puros (cigars made from 100% or “pure” Cuban tobacco) The contributor has smoked exclusively Cuban cigars for 50 years, travels to Cuba regularly, has friends throughout the farming, factory, production, distribution and sales related to the Cuban cigar industry...
. . . In ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she traveled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco . . . Huron Indian Myth
Where can I find Cuban Cigars in or near Bucerias ?
• Vendors on the beaches or in the streets: NO (Note: Cuban cigars are NEVER sold in glass lid boxes!!!)
• Non-cigar dedicated shops, stores, markets, bars, etc: NO
• Almost all tobacco and cigar shops: RARELY . . . so why bother?
• Smaller hotels: NO
• Luxury hotels: POSSIBILITY...but are generally a limited selection, poorly stored and are easily switched out with fakes by staff . . . so why bother?
• Duty-Free shop at the airport in Puerto Vallarta: YES . . . but the cigars tend to be less than optimally stored.
The following are 4 recommendations for real Cuban cigars within 100 miles of Bucerias
The Sunshine Bar - Located in Bucerias. Although this is a small bar I personally setup the supply chain with the Havana Cigar House in Puerto Vallarta as well as selecting a nice assortment including some high-end Habanos. The owner, Armando Solorio, plans to open a Cuban cigar lounge in the future and to also add Cuban cigars to his Sunshine Bar in Sayulita. The owner’s personal and posted guarantee says it all “If Not Real . . . They Are FREE !!!”
The Havana Cigar House - This shop and its sister shop, Havana Cigar And Rum, also in Puerto Vallarta, are owned by the largest seller of Cuban cigars in Mexico. Mr. David Tourgeman owns the 2 shops, plus stores in Isla Mujeres, La Casa Del Habano shops in Cozumel and Tijuana and the largest of all of the La Casa Del Habano shops which is located in Cancun. La Casa Del Habano shops are Cuban franchise stores and sell only Cuban cigars. The other 3 shops also sell Avo, Arturo Fuentes and Gurkha brand cigars as Mr. Tourgeman holds the exclusive distribution for those brands in Mexico. Prices are in USD.
La Casa Del Habano - in Puerto Vallarta. The owner, Mr. Gerry Cohen is a recognized expert in Cuban cigars, has written articles for the major cigar magazines and has conducted over 3,000 lectures on Cuban cigars. His cigars are priced in Pesos and are not affected by fluctuations in the USD.
La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant - is located in Puerto Vallarta. This Cuban franchised restaurant is owned by Harvey Tolkin who also holds the exclusive distribution rights for all La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurants (16) in Mexico. Their cigars are genuine Cubans but their humidor is over humidified. Prices are in USD.
A Brief History of Cigars
c. 6000 BCE: Experts believe the tobacco plant, as we know it today, begins growing in the Americas.
c.1 BCE: Experts believe American inhabitants began finding ways to use tobacco, including smoking (in a number of variations), chewing and snorting and was "nearly everywhere" in the Americas.
600 – 1000 CE: GUATEMALA. First pictorial record of smoking: A pottery vessel found there dates from before the 11th century. On it a Mayan is depicted smoking a roll of tobacco leaves tied with a string. The Mayan term for smoking was sik'ar and is probably where the word cigar comes from.
Oct 12, 1492: Columbus receives "Certain Dried Leaves" as Gifts from natives of San Salvador, and he throws them away:
• Columbus and his men set foot on the New World for the first time, landing on the beach of San Salvador Island or Samana Cay in the Bahamas, or Gran Turk Island. The indigenous Arawaks, possibly thinking the strange visitors divine, offer gifts. Columbus wrote in his journal,
o the natives brought fruit, wooden spears, and certain dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance.
• As each item seemed much-prized by the natives; Columbus accepted the gifts and ordered them brought back to the ship. The fruit was eaten; the pungent "dried leaves" were thrown away.
Oct 15, 1492: Columbus writes in his journal. "We found a man in a canoe . . . He had with him some dried leaves which are in high value among them, for a quantity of it was brought to me at San Salvador"
Nov 1492: Two of Columbus’ sailors, Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, discover smoking in Cuba, and Jerez becomes the first European smoker.
• Columbus lands in Cuba and believes that he has landed in Japan. He sends Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres to present a letter to the emperor and are credited with first observing smoking. They reported that the natives wrapped dried tobacco leaves in palm or maize "in the manner of a musket formed of paper." After lighting one end, they commenced "drinking" the smoke through the other. Jerez became a confirmed smoker, and is thought to be the first outside of the Americas. He brought the habit back to his Spanish hometown, but the smoke billowing from his mouth and nose so frightened his wife and neighbors he was imprisoned by the inquisition for 7 years for “being possessed by the Devil”. By the time he was released, smoking was a Spanish craze.
Early 1700s: Cigars are first rolled in Cuba using the recipe and manner of construction as they are made today:
• Recipe consists of (5) types of leaves taken from different areas of a tobacco plant at different growth periods:
o Binder: Thicker leaves from the bottom are used to hold the cigar together.
o Even Burn: Less thicker leaves higher up the plant are used to keep the cigar lit and burning evenly.
o Taste and aroma: Leaves higher up the plant are more aromatic and favorable.
o Strength: Leaves from the top of the tobacco plant are the most exposed to the sun and have the most strength.
o Looks: Tobacco plants grown under shade produce thin and more beautiful final wrapper leaves that are used to finish the cigar with a beautiful appearance.
o Thicker binder leaves are laid flat on the roller’s table, stretched and trimmed.
o Leaves for burn, aroma & flavor and strength are bunched and placed on the binder and then all are rolled into a rough round shape.
o This rough round is trimmed and pressed into a mold to produce the finished shape.
o On the roller’s table, a wrapper leaf is laid flat, stretched and trimmed.
o The shaped cigar is removed from the press, placed on the wrapper leaf to finish the cigar.
Since tobacco was first discovered: Cuba, due to its soil and climate, has been considered to produce the finest tobacco for aroma, flavor and complexity.
This has made Cuban cigars the “most counterfeited product on earth”!!!