Desert Companion

Shop: It’s just a cigar

donvicente-8.jpg

Roll with it: Vicente Perez of Don Vicente Cigars.  Photo by Lucky Wentzel
Photo by Lucky Wentzel

Roll with it: Vicente Perez of Don Vicente Cigars.

 

Except at Don Vicente Cigars, where they share the old Cuban wisdom of matching fine, hand-rolled tobacco to the perfect occasion

This year, for the first time in more than half a century, Americans can legally partake of that fabled forbidden fruit, the Cuban cigar — when they’re not on American soil. Despite easing tensions between the U.S. and Cuba, smoking a Cuban here is still prohibido.

Vicente Perez of Don Vicente Cigars demonstrates his hand-rolling technique,

Vicente Perez of Don Vicente Cigars demonstrates his hand-rolling technique.

But if you want a Cuban-made cigar right here, right now, we can make that happen. At Don Vicente Cigars (624 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-386-9117), Cuban expat Vicente Perez applies his family’s five generations of experience to produce 100 percent hand-rolled cigars. Like, they actually roll them right there at a little desk. You can watch as you enjoy a stogie and sip your preferred aperitif, often alongside the Don and his friends and family.

Cigars are pretty simple: tobacco leaves rolled in other tobacco leaves. But the different varieties and blends, shapes and sizes, produce an array of possibilities that can be overwhelming. The company’s CEO, Altoris Levar, says that choosing the right cigar isn’t just about the cigar. “A cigar is a tool of leisure,” he explains. It creates a vibe, and it’s about pairing that vibe with the right occasion.  “Cigars have many different personalities to match the many different personalities of people.”

Cigars

1. The Churchill

Like the old bulldog himself, you’re a boss, and you want the world to know it. “Big car, big house, big cigar,” Levar says. A lighter-colored cigar indicates a milder, creamier flavor — this bad boy will burn smoothly for the hour-plus it takes to smoke it.

The occasion: You did a banker thing, and you did it well. You’re the top hat, and you just passed Go. You’re fighting them at sea, in the air, on the beaches. You shall never surrender.
 

2. The Pyramid

This sharp cigar “embodies success,” Levar says, and its tapered shape gives it a bit of panache. You can get it box-pressed (squared off rather than round) for a more comfortable fit in the mouth. Like wines and whiskeys, premium tobacco leaves are aged for years to bring out their characteristics. Darker wrappers, like the maduro, produce a bolder, sweeter flavor.

The occasion: You’re chilling at the same club with that guy over there who you’re not sure exactly who he is but you’re pretty sure he’s famous.

 

3. The Corona

Long and lean, you can jam this one between your teeth, loner-style. Most cigars have a band, and it’s hotly debated among aficionados whether you should take if off before lighting up. Some people want to show off their brand; others smoke just for themselves. We’re guessing Clint Eastwood takes off the band.

The occasion: You’ve got your hat and poncho, you’re roaming the desert, you’re about to ask some punk if he feels lucky, and you’re so badass you don’t even care that that’s not the same movie.

 

4. The Robusto

This cigar’s shorter length and slightly smaller gauge make it popular among the growing ranks of lady smokers — but don’t confuse that with being dainty. Its more manageable smoking time makes it a great punctuation mark for a job well done.

The occasion: You just brought down the mother ship, and the planet is safe. For now.

 

5. The Perfecto

With its bulbous middle and tapered point, the perfecto is straight-up, old-school villain. The last time you saw one was probably in the mouth of a cartoon character tying a damsel to the tracks. Their distinct shape indicates a centuries-old hand-rolling method. Bitterness, the classic mark of a bad cigar, results from poor rolling or stems being left on the leaf. Hand-rolling, Levar says, is the best way to avoid these pitfalls. Even the dastardly don’t want a bitter smoke.

The occasion: About to set your evil plot in motion, you broke your monocle while twirling your mustache. But just because you’re foiled again doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good smoke.

 

6. The Culebra

This monstrosity isn’t even a cigar, really. It’s several cigars, braided together. Levar explains that this practice started when rollers on the plantation were permitted to have one cigar at the end of their shift, so they started weaving three or more together. Look, boss, one cigar! (Pro tip: You cannot smoke like a cigar roller. Unbraid that sucker.)

The occasion: You’ve toiled all day for meager wages, like you’ve done for innumerable days past and will for innumerable days ahead, and you wish only to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Or some blackjack!

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