The Cigars We Choose

The Cigars We Choose


When I was growing up in New York City, I became aware of cigars at a fairly young age. One of my first jobs–at twelve years old–was working as a dishwasher and bus boy at the famous John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. John’s is arguably the home of New York’s best coal-fired brick oven pizza, and you should make it a bucket list item if you’re a pizza fanatic, as I am.

The owner’s brother was sight-impaired. I picked up a few extra bucks to walk “Blind Louie” around the neighborhood so he could get some exercise. He always had a cigar in hand or mouth. The small cigars were machine-made and usually sold in a pack of five. The price was right for working-class guys back in the day.

Some men in the neighborhood wore nicely tailored suits, mysteriously conducted their daily and nightly business from darkly lit “social clubs,” drove Cadillacs (or were driven by others while comfortably sitting in the back seat) and smoked what I later learned were Cuban cigars.

Long story short, as the years went on, for me and many of the guys I grew up with, we reached the proverbial fork in the road and had to figure out which type of man we wanted to be. And which cigars would be our choice.

I was fortunate enough to go to college. I decided to do the work, pull myself out the right way and resist the temptation to go for the short money. I figured I’d fuse the best of the different elements I was exposed to in my youth and make myself into my own man. I put it together so I would end up with both street smarts and book smarts.

To that point, I’ll smoke a working man’s cigar or a premium stick any day of the week with people I connect with, or with others where a cigar is the conduit to a new relationship. Connecting to people through cigar appreciation has been a impactful part of my life. Some of the most meaningful conversations, celebratory moments and contemplative thoughts in my life have occurred with cigar in hand.

I find it rewarding to experience new cigar moments with colleagues and the audience we reach with Cigar & Spirits Magazine. It’s my way of building a bridge to people regardless of the cigar they smoke. My hope is that you’ll take away entertaining information from our cigar, spirits and lifestyle coverage during the time we have together, and our connection will be that much stronger.

Remember, we are the people we choose to be.


Randy Mastronicola
Editor & Publisher

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