Cocktail of the Day

We have all been waiting for the warmer weather and sunshine. Not that you need a certain time of year to drink a certain cocktail, but we all have those cocktails that just work with springtime. So, I thought I would put together some of my favourite cocktails that will be in heavy rotation coming into better weather!

Orchard Collins

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1 parts Lemon Juice
  • 1 parts Cider
  • 5 parts Ginger Beer
  • 3 slices of apple
  • Cucumber Rose Garnish

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a highball filled with cubed ice.
  • Lightly stir and serve.
  • Garnish with 3 thin slices of apple and a cucumber rose

Slainte,

Elijah

C.Gars – Bigger than ever!

Happy Easter! …and it really is a very happy time for C.Gars Ltd as we recently announced our merger with La Casa del Tabaco in Belgium to form a new Group Company: Dominique London. More details on our new website. We can proudly boast to be one of the largest cigars and spirits merchants in Europe and the expansion march will go on over the course of this year and beyond.

No change to my position as Managing Director of C.Gars but I’m also the Chief Commercial Officer for the DL group which is a terribly exciting challenge for me for the future, that I relish. Over the last 24 years I have built C.Gars into a pretty huge business with the help of an incredible team but we can now take the business to higher heights than ever with the added expertise of Dominique and Frederic from our Belgian merger partners La Casa del Tabaco. When travel restrictions are lifted, I can’t wait to visit our shops in Belgium and host some fantastic whisky and cigar sampling events.

The merger took well over a year to complete and what a crazy year it was with a Pandemic, stock shortages, a new mail order warehouse and opening a flagship store in St James’s! Imagine what we can do in a normal year! Congratulations to all of my team as well as our Belgian partners on this monumental merger.

Cohiba stock shortages continue as well as a few other lines, though bits and pieces do go in and out of stock but not in the quantity we need as yet. We are hoping this will improve as the year goes on but huge kudos to our supplier Hunters & Frankau for keeping us at around 95% stock availability which is a lot better than many countries over the last few years.

And what of the quality of Havana cigars at this time? Well, let’s face it, there will always be the odd stick with a construction issue. that’s the nature of the game (you can always try a Perfec Draw  but the tobacco quality and blending recently is definitely in the superior category. I have been smoking through some incredible Punch Double Coronas from 1999 like a fiend! Amazing smokes, almost 22 years old and smoking like a dream.

H. Upmann Sir Winston have been steadily coming into stock over the last few months after a long absence and are also first class as are El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme  which have recently come back into stock, albeit in small quantity.

We have great stock availability of most La Casa del Habano lines and are expecting the long awaited Hoyo Year of The Ox this week.

I can’t wait for the Lockdowns to be over and things to get back to normal. I’m so looking forward to hosting some sampling events at our new St James’s store as well as our other stores around the country. Hopefully it won’t be too long but, in the meantime, join me at our virtual events which are a lot of fun as well as educational (and great value!)

Checkout Nick Hammonds Audiobook… Around the World in Eighty Cigars its great fun and his book is also available online.

Looking for a really special dram? Try our Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood. Its delicious. My business partner Ron and I sampled some on the rocks last week paired up with Trinidad Vigia. Truly a sublime combination and highly recommended.

For a change of pace check out Y Bet Rose Vodka.  Vodka isn’t my regular tipple but this really is something special…

Look out! I’m launching a new range of incredible value Nicaraguan cigars later this month. They will truly be the best value smoke in the UK. We still have a UK regional Havana sometime this year as well as a Davidoff-Orchant Seleccion and a Plasencia – Orchant Seleccion to release so it’s going to be a very exciting year of new releases.

I’m putting the finishing touches on our next cigar auction which will conclude on the 20th April, we expect around 350+ Lots of aged, rare and unusual cigars as well as some splendid single malt whisky Lots. The Lots will be online and bidding open 7 days before the auction concludes. Registration is easy and bidding very straightforward. Condition reports are available by email from the auction team who are always happy to assist and advise sales@onlinecigarauctions.com

Looking forward to see you soon at our virtual herfs and soon after at our cigar sampling lounge events.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Different Pipe Finishes… Rustic, Sandblast or Smooth?

Last time I wrote about where to start with pipes and why but not about their finishes! So, does finish matter when it comes to the smoking experience?

The only thing that the finish will be affecting is the briar’s heat dispersion. The bigger the surface is, the more heat dispersion you will have. A pipe with a rustic/sandblast finish will be technically better at handling the heat than one with a smooth finish.
In reality though, the difference is minimal, and it’s more likely that you will not even notice it.

Personally, it boils down to what you like to look at and the tactile sensation. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, all pipes had a smooth finish supposedly. It was all about the briar’s grain. Its Bird’s eyes and flames defined the quality and the worth of a pipe. This finish is achieved by sanding the briar with extremely fine sandpaper until the surface is as smooth as fine silk could be. Then, the pipe could be waxed, stained, or lacquered. Double staining could also be used, which means that two different stains will be precisely applied to a specific part of the briar’s grain to increase the contrast. Easier said than done!

From the early years of the 20th century, the rustic/sandblast finish became popular because of Dunhill himself and his Shell briar finish technique. A sandblast finish will allow the crafter to bring a new depth to the briar’s grain by literally blasting it with abrasive dust such as sand or glass. This technique removes the softwood but preserves the grain and will define the briar’s growth rings. Wax and stains (single and double) are also used to finish the briar.

On the other hand, a rustic finish is not about the grain but the texture. This technique gave the crafters a chance to use any briar that didn’t have any exciting grain pattern. New ridges and edges are created onto the briar’s surface with many different tools. As you can imagine, wax and lacquer are not used that often for this type of finish. Stains are the go-to.

Are shell briar and sandblasted interchangeable? No, not entirely. A shell briar is sandblasted, but not the other way around.
Let me explain!

Dunhill, back in the nineteen-teens, patented the shell briar technique. Some people say, by mistake, some others say intentionally, but his new method changed how our pipes look.

To put it simply, a soft briar (Algerian Briar before the 60s, then a Greek Briar) gets submerged into oil for several weeks. After that, the briar gets exposed to high temperatures for many days. As a result, parts of the grain will harden and stand out, and an oil waterproof coating will be formed. The briar will then go through sandblasting, which will remove the oil coating and reduce the cutting effect. The Algerian briar will get a deep, defined contrast in the grain. In comparison, the Greek briar will have a much softer result because the material is much harder.

This technique allows the crafter to have complete control over the process, preserving all the details of the Bird’s eyes and the flames that you don’t have when you sandblast the briar.

I personally like pipes with a mixed finish. I love to have a smooth section and a textured one close to each other.

What about you? Which one do you like?

Till next time!

Chris

Cocktail of the day

We have all been waiting for the warmer weather and sunshine. Not that you need a certain time of year to drink a certain cocktail, but we all have those cocktails that just work with springtime. So, I thought I would put together some of my favourite cocktails that will be in heavy rotation coming into better weather!

Citrus Breeze

Ingredients:

  • 50ml (2oz) – The Botanist Gin
  • 25ml (1oz) – Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 15ml (0.5oz) – Elderflower cordial
  • 85ml (3oz) – Tonic water
  • Sprig of thyme to garnish
  • Grapefruit wheel to garnish

Method:

  • Mix the gin, grapefruit and elderflower cordial in a mixing glass.
  • Pour into an ice-filled highball and top up with tonic water.
  • Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a grapefruit wheel.

Slàinte

Elijah

Pipes… where to start?

So, you are new to pipe smoking and want to know where to start? Well, let’s start with the first question I often get asked when a new pipe smoker comes into my shop…

“Which pipe should I buy?”

Pipes come in many different shapes, sizes, colours, and finishes. When you search on our website for pipes, the results can be overwhelming for a new pipe smoker. We’ve all been there! The first time I bought a pipe, I was overwhelmed with the pipe selection that my local shop had (and their selection was really small!)

So, let’s break it down.

Shapes:

The pipe’s shape will mainly affect three things: the draw, the smoke and the build-up condensation.

A bent pipe will have condensation forming between the bowl and the shank, and because of the curve, the draught might be a bit harder. On the other hand, it will be easier to hold it in your mouth because the pipe is more balanced and will be easier to smoke on the go while you are out or doing something.

Have a look at these Savinelli, I love their bent pipes.

A straight pipe will have an easier draught and no condensation build-up because there are no curves in which the smoke will linger. The main problem of straight pipes for a beginner is their balance and weight. It will feel heavier when you clench it and not so easy to deal with when doing something else while smoking.
For a classic straight pipe, try a Peterson.

Length: 

The length of the pipe will affect the warmth of the smoke. The longer it is, the cooler the smoke is going to be.

For a beginner, I would suggest going for a medium-length pipe. The smoke is cool enough that it should not bother you, and it will not be too challenging to light.

Filter:

Pipes come filtered and non-filtered. We always mention on the description if the pipe has a filter and which kind it uses. 😊
Filters helps to achieve a smooth and pleasant smoke. They also help to remove humidity and impurities. There are many different filters, but for now, let us talk about the most common: metal and 9mm.

A metal filter, often called a stinger (because of the shape), will help reduce the impurities as they will get stuck to it which will then change the smoke flow.

In my opinion, the most efficient filter is the 9mm! It will filter humidity and impurities without affecting the smoking experience. If your pipe uses 9mm filters, try Vauen Dr Perl Junior 9mm Pipe Filters.

This sums up the pipe smoking basics, but which one should you buy?

A good tip is to think about the pipe that you envision yourself smoking. Or even better, visit one of our shops to let us help you decide. Physically holding a pipe sometimes gives you a better understanding on which finish and sizing you like.
A pipe needs to fit your style but also be something that you like to look at when you are not using it.
In the current times though, the pandemic may make it difficult for you to come see us in store so be sure to have a look on our website and if you have any questions, get in touch with us.  We are more than happy to help with selecting your first (or third 😉) pipe!

Most importantly though, take your time and be patient. Remember, your pipe smoking journey has just begun.

Let me know about your first pipe experiences or if its your first time, let me know which one you go for!

Christian