Its August 21st and by September 23rd, Autumn will be here. In Houston, the transition isn’t as extreme as the northern or western parts of the U.S., but the break in heat anywhere is always bittersweet. We’ll miss lazy Sundays at the pool, but we can look forward to new Fall wardrobes and cooler days.

In 2007 I packed everything I owned in my black 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII and headed north to New Jersey from Dallas, TX. It was an all or nothing move I made for a better future.

What I found along the way will never be erased from my mind. By the time I got to Maryland, the rollings hills were covered in trees reflecting the deepest purples, brightest yellows and purest orange leaves. Other colors like blood red, burnt brown and every shade in between were also present.

It was Autumn, my windows were down so the cool crisp air could help me stay awake during the 30+ hour drive and the rumble of my 4.6L Ford V8 pulling me into the unknown future ahead of me.

Using this memory as my backdrop and the anticipation of Autumn ahead of us, I am going to pick & pair the perfect cigars and drinks to enjoy during upcoming seasonal shift.

My good friend Andres Chapa (read his back story here) who was voted Houston’s best bartender and mixologist, and runs the bar at Houston’s hottest lounge, 1919 Wine & Mixology will help select the perfect pairing to these cigars.

Today, I’ll write about the cigars and then within a few days when I post Part 2 of this post, Chapa will make the cocktails and we’ll pair them up with each cigar and share the recipe so you too can enjoy them yourselves!

Week 1: H. Upmann The Banker

  • The Banker has been my favorite cigar the entire Summer. Everyone who I’ve turned on to this cigar has loved it as much as I have. The rich history of the H. Upmann line along with the pure cigar flavor coupled with the quality construction of The Banker, makes this one of the best cigars I have smoked. The deep aroma of the cigar once its lit is perfect for deep introspection as you reflect on the love, struggles, happiness and every experience in between the Summer of 2014. The best part, you can buy it for under $10 in cigar shops.

Week 2: La Aurora Puro Vintage 2004

  • What a surprise this smoke was for me. Although this is not a new cigar; it was new to me when I smoked it a few months ago. It’s a torpedo with one of the smoothest draws of any cigar I have smoked. A total of 8,000 cigars were released in 2011 so finding one may be a bit of a challenge. If you are in Houston, Stogies of Houston on 6100 Westheimer carries them. Much like Summer is ending day by day, each La Aurora 2004 you smoke, one less exists on this Earth. The proof of its phenomenal smoke will soon only exist in the experience you tell your friends about. The cigar itself has a Habano wrapper with a creamy, nutty smoke. Tip: If you can’t find the 2004, you may have better luck finding the 2007. I can’t say its the same smoke, but I also can’t say its not a good one!

Week 3: Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva

  • The Gran Reserva is a cigar most seasoned cigar lovers enjoy. It’s not the first cigar you grab, but it definitely makes its way into your rotation more often than not. The Gran Reserva is not a flashy cigar, it doesn’t offer a sexy back story and it’s not rare by any means. Ultimately it is a dependable, quality smoke with a mild finish. This is a great cigar to pair with an IPA as the stronger notes of the IPA will be balanced out with the milder Gran Reserva. This is a perfect post-Summer / pre-Fall backyard pairing to be enjoyed around 7 pm when the mosquitos are gone and the evening is cool and crisp! I am eager to find out which IPA Chapa pairs it with.

Week 4: Graycliff Chateau Grand Cru

  • If you follow me on Instagram @houstoncigarlife, then you know all about this cigar. Here is my Instagram post on it: “Graycliff Chateau Grand Cru, one of the best full bodied cigars out there. This fine cigar is handrolled in Nassau Bahama with Honduran, Costa Rican and Nicaraguan tobaccos sourced from Graycliff owned farms. Fidel Castro’s personal roller and founder of Cuban Cohibas, the late Avelino Lara first rolled these cigars at the Graycliff restaurant. The cigar itself is a beauty with a distinguished body and regal, double purple bands, but the amazing draw coupled with rich and complex flavors make it more than just a pretty smoke. At $30 a stick, its not an everyday smoke for most of us, but a better than great smoke if and when you do get your hands on one! @graycliff_cigars great job on these wonderful…” This is the perfect cigar to smoke to finally end Summer with a smile. With each draw you can think about it being rolled in the Bahamas were Summer never ends… in my own mind, its always Summer!

Week 5: TBA

  • I have the perfect cigar in mind and it will be paired with the perfect drink… but this will be done live in Part 2 when Chapa will be live mixing cocktails and pairing drinks with the cigars mentioned so far.

I hope you enjoy these smokes and although I may not be with you, I will be smoking somewhere… and with that, I’ll leave you with a quote from Jay Z, “may the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrows…”

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