Red Retro Cigar Chic

red-retro-cigar-chicOk, I confess to being a sucker for retro chic, and cigars are for sure the perfect field to indulge in this passion. In a way, isn’t the enjoyment and pleasure of smoking cigars much based on transplanting the feel of “good old times” to our hectic present days.

Recently an acquaintance presented me with a few cigars he brought back from a trip to Beijing. Now, I am no stranger to cigars produced in China, mostly cheap machine-made stuff rolled with domestic tobacco usually tasting with some unbearable flavor of Oriental herbs. For sure not my idea of a good cigar. However, these cigars looked and smelled differently. No hint of incense, definitely hand-rolled and decorated with an interesting band imprinted with the name “Red Capital”. I had to know more about these cigars.

According to my acquaintance the cigar is sold in a Beijing guest house called “Red Capital Club”. Well, the retro chic sucker in me got hooked. Could it be possible?!… “Yes,” the acquaintance said, “the people at the place say they are made in Cuba.” Wow… retro images began spinning in my head. “But, you know this is China. Things can be quite exaggerated there, but who knows… ” he quickly added. Well, Cuba and China surely deal with each other, share that same outdated political system; and with knowing people in the right places, the possibility could not be outrightly rebutted. To back up his story my acquaintance handed me a pamphlet of said “Red Capital Club”.

red-retro-cigar-chic2The club is located in an old courtyard home in Beijing’s Dongsi district. Finely restored to preserve the antiquity and spirit of a traditional guest house in China. It is not really a club, the guest house is open to the public and anyone with the monetary means can stay there and enjoy its hospitality. The images are a retro chic sucker’s dream.

But let’s get back to the cigar. Upon closer inspection I started to doubt their Cuban origin: no triple cap construction and the tobacco in the filler did not exactly offer that unique Cuban bouquet either, but more likely that of Dominican tobacco. To be fair, the pamphlet does not claim the cigars to be produced in Cuba. The craftily worded text just says that the cigars are their own brand on offer among a wide range of Habanos.

On a quiet Sunday afternoon I finally smoked the “Red Capital Club” cigars. With pamphlet in hand, reading and day-dreaming while looking at the gorgeous pictures I nubbed a fine cigar, which I’m quite sure is of Dominican origin. No disappointment that my red retro cigar chic envision did not come to full circle by the exclusion of Cuban cigars.
It is hard to disappoint a real sucker!

Posted: September 4th, 2002   |   Category: 葉巻なエッセイ