Cigar and alcohol enthusiast, romance author, lifestyle blogger. I've been published in romance for the last 17 years, but only as o f late have been able to combine my passions for the grape, leaf and written word into a careeer that allows me to live passionately!
Due to a staggering economy and low foot traffic plus the fact that Oakland is a struggling city both financially and with intellect (Yeah I said it!) Franklin Square, the smaller wine bar opened and operated by the folks who brought us Lukas Taproom and Lounge (just across the street) has closed.
They had a nice selection of wines, reasonable prices on very good food and a friendly atmosphere. Tastings were held on Thursdays at a reasonable price.
Hell I probably could have lit up a cigar on the patio with a glass of wine.
But this is what happens when people don’t spend money and downtown looks like hell.
Downtown Oakland looks like a ghost town on weekends now.
Sadly I hear the champagne lounge on 24th and Telegraph is also empty much of the time.
I had this earlier at Grants and all I can say is WOW! The construction of this box pressed cigar is solid, producing a tight white ash. Flavors on this easy to draw cigar include pronounced coffee and tobacco that smooth out as the cigar smokes.
This is definitely an upgrade if you’re familiar with the general thousand line of Padron, which I am as those are my go to sticks most of the time.
I sipped a decent brandy while smoking and watching the news discuss the proposed smoking ban in San Francisco and talking to some of the more politically inclined smokers.
For $15.50 a stick, this is definitely worth buying a few if not a box.
Got to try an a good scotch tonight at Occidental. They have a great list of scotches, whiskeys and bourbons along with a nice wine and beer list. The Glenrothe 1991 is a light amber colored scotch with a nose typical of Speyside single malts.
A soft entry entices the palate with nuts, heather and very soft caramel that opens up as the whiskey aerates. More pronounced caramel flavors round out the smooth whiskey with a medium to fuller finish.
A few drops of water helped smooth out the peaty flavors on the back of the palate. I enjoyed this scotch with a Padron 7000.
Retail runs around $80 for a 750 ml bottle. I’d probably pair this better with a more oily cigar like Tatuaje or the Torano 1959 Exodus in the future.
I was extremely surprised when I first popped the cork from this wine. Pleasant flavors and typical aromas hit the nose before I’d poured into the glass. The cork crumble was expected since the wine was a few years old but 1996 was a good year for solid production in wine.
My reservation was with the fact that I paid $5 for this wine and it retails for like, $17 or so. The Grocery Outlet store here in Oakland has a less than stellar selection of wines and most of what we pick up I’d consider drinkable. Nothing more.
But this wine had structure though it was starting to fade. Deep red in color with tints of brown from age, this wine swirls with nice long legs. Aromas of cherry and fruit come to the nose with a welcome bit of terroir. Soft tannins and mellow undertones of berry fruit are evident with a nice medium finish.
After half an hour, the wine softened more and opened up with more sweetness on the palate and some light acidity that paired with spaghetti.
I’ll be going back to pick up a few more bottles of this cab at this procie for sure!
The winery’s website is: Bighorn Cellars. They like to specialize in small production of exemplary wines from the regions they grow best in. Also, they’re out of Oregon. Remind me to go back and read the label as I just saw they have a higher end wine for $45 and I’d be curious to know if I picked that up.
I think I’ll be updating this blog on Thursdays. It makes sense to me since I do a WriteSEX update then and traffic seems to show that I get higher views on those days.
Did you enjoy my review of the Diamond Crown Robusto? If you missed it you can find it here.
After a little thought, I’ve decided to lower my price points for reviews.The purpose of any blog is to grow, but until I have more product coming in from vendors, (and more time to dedicate to obtaining samples!) I think I can provide a valuable service by hitting the mid range prices on wines/liquors/cigars. I spoke with Thomas at Grants when asking abou a higher end stick than my normal Tatuaje or Padron and he told me that slightly above $17 per cigar, you start getting into the higher end products like the Padron 80th anniversary or Fuente OpusX.
Plus, I need to expand exposure of the blog. On a brighter note, Chehalem Vineyards is sending sample bottles of wine to me. I emailed heather at the vineyard last week and she responded with a positive note and what sounded like incredible wines from Oregon. So look for that in the coming weeks!
Picked this up at Grants today. It’s a 5X54 sized vitola with a dark maduro wrapper from the fine folks at JC Newman.
On the prelight, toasty aromas and typical tobacco drift towards the nose in a pleasing fashion. After cutting the cap I lit the cigar and drew in flavors of cocoa, roasted coffee that wafted across the palate. The flavors were subdued with undertones of creamy milk chocolate. The structure of the flavor profile is solid as is the draw and construction.
This paired well with the inexpensive brandy from the flask. The sweetness and floral notes of the brandy emphasized sweetness on this Dominican cigars from the Arturo Fuente/JC Newman family.
Honestly, I prefer the Maximus, the line they came out with ten years later. The Diamond Crown was released in 1990 to honor the 100th Anniversary of Standford Newman.
Stanford Newman’s dream became a reality when Diamond Crown cigars debuted in the early 1990’s. Today the cigar is as popular as ever. It features a Connecticut wrapper that is absolutely seamless over a smooth Dominican filler. The cigar is mild to medium-bodied, and very creamy and flavorful. Without a doubt, Diamond Crown is one of the best made premium cigars being made in the Dominican Republic
While I prefer the Maximus, for a $17 cigar, this is a good value for thsoe seeking exceptional quality when they are looking to up their standard of The Good Life!
picked this up for my second cigar at Grants today and thought I’d review it. I know it doesn’t meet the criteria but I’m thinking in my tough economic times, I have to relook at the standards i’ve set. But for now, we’ll just discuss the cigar.
Construction is good. Non veiny , chocolate colored wrapper on this Tatuaje maade cigar from Pete Johnson. Aroma on the prelight is typical of Tatuaje and once I took a draw, I picked up typical full bodied flavor and taste.
After the first third I picked up espresso flavors that rolled into a heady roasted coffee taste with earthy undertones. I should add that I’m sick right now so my palate is a bit off.
Overall a good cigar but I still prefer La Riqueza. I have a Tatuaje Conoju in my humidor for the blog I plan to smoke once I get some good scotch 🙂
It was nice to see Chris at Grants, he poured me a littleof one of his favorite grappas that had an interesting taste if you’re not a grappa drinker OR new to the drink. I’ll share later.
I was given the opportunity to try this robust Islay scotch Thursday while a good friend was visiting.
The Bruichladdich is a golden colored scotch with not a lot of peat. The heat level is there definitely and will keep you warm but it’s not so overpowering. This is a smooth scotch with light smoke and peat compared to most normal Islay single malts. The balance of body and oaky vanilla sweetness.
A nice finish compliments this 12 year whisky.
From the website: There is no chill filtration, no coloring added and the whiskys are bottled naturally.
Paired this with a CAIN cigar and god company. The CAIN cigar had a much better profile than the last time I smoked one but that’s another review I’ll do for another night.
at 46% ABV this is a little lighter than what I’m used to (Glenfiddich or Grants Blended) but a nice way to wind down the evening or celebrate good company!
I want to wish you all a happy and successful new year and that you may all enjoy the finer things in life! I started off the year working with a bang, cranking out plots and words for three new stories, and had to take a cigar break Tuesday!
First cigar of the year was NOT up to blog standards, but was still a good, tasty stick. I had heard a lot about the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Fuente by one of the guys who smokes them at Grants so I picked one up.
Definitely a good stick for an occasion when I want something more mild to medium with creamy, woodsy notes.
As for drink, nothing spectacular has hit my palate yet. We’ve gotta work on that!
Just got back from Tobacco Rd and thought I’d post a few pictures of their smoking lounge.
The nice leather chairs have provided me with a comfortable seating arrangement that’s allowed me hours of reading/smoking time.
As for selection, they offer the following:
Ashton (including one of the VSG sizes)
Romeo y Julieta Habano Reserve, Reserve Real and 1875
Arturo Fuente (including the Short Story)
Joya De Nicaragua
Rocky Patel 12 year Vintage
RP EDGE (robusto size 5X48 I think)
Oliva V, O and G series
Hoyo De Monterrey (Excalibur)
And a cuban seed house blend robusto and torpedo. The robusto is available in EMS or Maduor and I like the maduro bettter. It’s better constructed, not as strong but still a sweet, tasty maduro.
I’m not sure which NUB she’ll be bringing in but she’ll have those too. I’ve had those and they’re pretty good.
Most of the prices are lower than SF and I wonder if that’s due to taxes. The shop itself has to overcome ridding itself of the ghetto element so I understand they may be phasing out cigarette sales and some of the more less lucrative products that tend to attract the element as I call them, but Kathrine is determiend to give cigar smokers a place to call home.
She’ll be installing a TV soon in the lounge. I’ve been allowed to bring in alcohol under the “don’t act a fool” rule. My question is, once she rotates some of the stock out, what would you like to see in the humidor?
I’d like to see Padron, Cuesta Rey, Tatuaje, Punch Uppercut, along with an expansion of the RP line. How about you?
The shop is located at 14th and Franklin, close to 12th St. BART station. Come on down and enjoy a smoke!