A Drink and a Smoke

cigar and coffee

I have taken up a new hobby over the last few months.  Late in the week, most often on Fridays, I wrap up work at a reasonable hour to spend an hour or so relaxing quietly with a cigar and a coffee.

Technically speaking, this isn’t a new hobby – I have smoked cigars intermittently since a girlfriend brought me back a box of Cohiba Churchills from their factory in Havana.  I later married her, but it wasn’t only because of the cigars. Yet, I digress.

I consider this a new hobby because it has become regular, about weekly – although I wish it were more often.  In the ordinary course of events, my Friday diversion takes me to a tobacco shop tucked into the corner of one of the ubiquitous strip malls of northern Virginia’s suburbs. It’s not a large store, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with a fantastic selection and more importantly, a small lounge.

It is here, where amidst leather chairs, wood paneling, and the gently rising cloud of smoke that disappears in the quietly humming ventilator, that I lament the past work week and devise plans for the coming weekend.

The only problem with my newfound haven: it’s a tobacco store and not a bar; thus, a notable absence of adult beverages. In place of my usual Talisker I must make do with a medium decaf from a neighboring Starbucks. In the grand scheme of things coffee isn’t the worst substitute in the world.  A dark roast drip or espresso-based Americano pairs decently with a bolder robusto-style cigar.

As anti-smoking laws continue to decrease the number of smoking lounges, this trade-off – enjoying a cigar with a coffee rather than a real drink – will be all the more commonplace.  As it stands, there are only a handful of bars in the DC metro region that permit cigar smoking, making it all the more difficult to enjoy a cocktail and a smoke out on the town.

Thankfully it appears more smoke shops and tobacco lounges are popping up, not in large numbers, but enough to offer additional options to casual smokers who are flexible with their drink of choice.  Those shops also seem to be setting space aside for a sitting area and introducing weekend beer and wine tastings to enjoy while smoking.

More importantly to me, perhaps, are the warm weather and longer days, which encourage me to freely smoke on my new patio, and drink whatever I choose.

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Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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It’s About Time

old pocketwatch

That I got back to blogging.

Winter ended and surprisingly, we actually had spring this year. Not a long one, mind you, but one longer than the usual day or two. All the while, bit by bit, my family, work, and the house sapped my energy. Along with my time, the ideas and the motivation disappeared. And dormant sat The Hip Flask, month after month.

During that time, two posts have sadly sat in the queue since March, nearly complete. Yet writing and editing is less than enjoyable after a long day, and the prospect of sitting in front of another computer during the precious few hours between the kids’ bedtime and my own did not excite. I admittedly have not been up to much, aside from the occasional cigar after work – about which I’ll soon post. Drink has been mildly entertaining: particularly notable were the bottles of Rolle Bolle, one of New Beligum Brewery’s new summer seasonal ales, I enjoyed over the Memorial Day weekend. Along with a few Miller High Lifes, because this is America dammit!

I hope you all have been drinking well during my recent absence. To those making your own homemade brandy – peach or otherwise – keep sending the comments and questions! If you’ve had a comment in limbo, please accept my humblest apologies.

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In the meantime, for those information hounds that also enjoy a fine “craft brewed” beer, the New Yorker produced an excellent interactive graphic of American craft breweries – their Idea of the Week – which contains both state or brewery data and can be sorted according to eight tab selectors, including “total breweries,” “annual production” (state data) as well as “fifty largest breweries,” and “new breweries (opened in 2012).”

Needless to say, it’s a beautiful geographic depiction of the rise of American craft brewing, which I declare, is here to stay. As the New Yorker notes: “These beverages have become so popular that craft beer now represents thirty per cent of Costco’s beer sales…But such statistics and anecdotes fail to communicate a fascinating aspect of the craft-beer boom. The beverage is colonizing what one might call the craft-beer frontier: the parts of the country that are far from the major craft breweries of the West Coast and the Northeast.”

Published in: on June 10, 2013 at 10:32 pm  Comments (3)  
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