THE warmth of good company – plus that from some bonus heat lamps; some excellent appetisers; spirits galore; topped off by a fantastic example of how good Cuban cigarmaking can be when it concentrates.
What more could you want from a wet, cold, blustery Monday night in November?
Not a lot, I say, and that’s why I – Nick Hammond, for those still unsure – was front and centre to welcome a couple of dozen pleasure seekers to Mezcalito of Chelsea for a collaboration between their good selves, the delightful chaps at Enemigo Tequila and, of course, your ever-striving cigar companion, Sautter of Mount Street.
As well as welcoming cigar fans old and new, I was given the job of introducing the cigar, and what a cigar it turned out to be. The Partagas P2 was released in 2005 (was it really that long ago? Feels like yesterday!) and it was a smash hit from the get-go, with its full-throttle earth, wind and fire approach to the palate. A bold, peppery beasty if ever there was one. I have a suspicion that, like a lot of the entire Cuban portfolio, it has been blended down to a more manageable level of rambunctiousness these days – like adding cooling yoghurt to a fiery curry – but while this one was definitely not the ball breaker of his brothers from yesteryear, he was nonetheless delightful in the extreme.
Smooth and sweet, with layered strength and complexity, the cigar was heralded by all and sundry present as a real tasty tonic for a Monday night. There enjoying the experience alongside the other guests, was, of course, the man known in certain circles as El Jefe. Holding court at one end of the room amid a cloud of cigar smoke, Mr Davis was seen to be thoroughly enjoying proceedings, which included taking the mickey out of various friends within earshot and sipping tequila from Enemigo, which was regularly tipped into his glass.
What a delicious drop this is, from a brand relatively young in the market. We heartily recommend you get your hands on a bottle at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mezcalito did us proud with superb, friendly service and some truly delicious Mexican treats to ward off the stomach rumblings of early evening. All of which is just an example of the sort of thing that Sautter is organising, hosting and enjoying on a daily basis. Being a cigar merchant these days means more than sitting behind a cash register waiting for punters to walk in. Customers are better educated (cigar wise) and have less time; they want to get full value for their money. They are looking for a relationship with their retailer which goes beyond mere point of sale. Cigars are a lifestyle, and Laurence Davis is the epitomy of this. Most of his waking moments – and no doubt plenty of his sleeping ones, too – are peppered with cigars, whether smoking them, talking about them or doing business with them. He genuinely enjoys meeting fellow enthusiasts, is incredibly generous when he does, and, what’s more, loves to organise events and the like because he gets just as much of a kick out of them as any paying guest.
I would encourage you to keep close tabs on the Sautter events page and drop in regularly to the Instagram Live shows Laurence and I do on Tuesday nights at 6pm. That is where a lot of the think tank action takes place and you may get an early heads up for your next great smoky night out.