In our new “Beyond the Ballroom” series, we take you on some of our favorite tours and experiences outside of the hotel. Part one of our two-part Hispanic Heritage month blog goes to the heart of Little Havana to Havana Classic Cigars for a lesson in cigar rolling!
As planners, we all love giving our attendees the local experience, and in South Florida, that means it’s time bring on the salsa dancers and mojitos! At Koncept Events, we know the Havana Nights theme is always a hit and are constantly re-imagining ways to bring the Latin flavor to your reception. But in honor of National Hispanic Heritage month, we thought this was a great time to take you off property and into one of our tours for an up-close look at another local cultural favorite, the authentic Cuban cigar.
Our destination is in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood at Havana Classic Cigars, a small boutique shop that’s been in business for over 20 years. Groups of about 10 people are invited to tour and are instantly greeted with a cafecito (a shot of super potent espresso we love in SoFla!) and a meeting with the owner, Lazaro Quintana. Lazaro, a quiet man, is perpetually smoking a cigar, not necessarily by habit but to quality check his products. “My English is not so good looking,” he’ll joke, but his love of his industry and his excitement is infectious! After introductions to Lazaro and Rene Diaz, the tour leader extraordinaire, guests watch a short video on the growing of a tobacco leaf. The process, from seeding to fermentation of the leaves, is quite extensive and the video does a great job explaining it all while Rene and Lazaro add in additional industry and first-hand insights.
Guests then move to the production area to see the leaf rolling process, which is where the instructional video leaves off. “You have to have the passion,” Rene told us when we stopped by. “We want to keep the cigar industry in the hands of the cigar maker.” And they do. At Havana Classic Cigar, there are no machines, although some of their larger competitors are going in that direction. Instead, skilled craftsmen and craftswomen are seen hand-rolling cigars with swift, practiced hands. Peeking over their shoulders, guests can see the care that goes into each stage until the finished piece is ready for the press.
Making their way through the floor, guests will also see bins of tobacco pilons where the leaves are stored, the authentic (and aforementioned) cigar press where stogies spend 21 days before they are ready for consumption, and finally the humidor where bundles wait for their time in the store. Each cigar has its own hand-written recipe, and Rene compares cigars to the more well-known world of wine. Just like wine, a cigar will taste differently based on the seed, soil and leaves, and the best connoisseurs can tell you its origin with just one inhale.
To complete the experience, guests have a chance to purchase their own cigar or event planners can pre-purchase for their group. Lazaro and Rene are both on hand to advise on the perfect puff! After sharing some delicious Cuban pastelitos, it’s time to depart with a muchas gracias!
This is a great South Florida tour that can stand on its own or be added into a fuller day of activities to include a stop for lunch or a round on the golf course. And of course, you can always bring the cigar rolling experience direct to your event as an interactive element which is a hit every time. For more details, contact Koncept Events!
Muchas gracias Lazaro and Rene! We had a great time!
Stay tuned for part 2 of our Hispanic Heritage off-site experience where we stroll through Little Havana on a food tour. We promise, it will be delicioso!