In it’s third year running, Black Smoke Miami kicked off the Labor Day weekend on Wednesday night, August 28. Though I did not attend the opening event, which was held at Smoke on the Water Cigar Bar in Weston, FL, I heard it was spectacular with cigar enthusiasts from all over the country partying the night away. I did, however, attend the the next two days of this multi-day cigar extravaganza.
I drove down early Thursday morning to take some time to hangout with brothers and sisters of the leaf on the pool deck of the host hotel, Miami Lakes Hotel and Golf Club. This is also where check-in was being done for the event – which I have to say was very smooth. I quickly got my credentials and headed over to the pool deck to chill out and share some Red Breast Irish Whiskey, cigars, and conversation. That conversation was more about the impending Hurricane Dorian than it was about cigars.
Many of the attendees come from out of state for this yearly event and the fear of not getting out was on everyone’s mind Thursday, even though the storm was just a Category 2 hurricane tracking across the open waters of the Atlantic. We eventually just got back to enjoying cigars, sharing libations, and reacquainting ourselves as we relaxed our minds in the balmy Miami heat.
As the evening approached, reports of the storm getting stronger, while the cone of probability was showing Miami may be impacted by Monday was all over the news. That report calmed the fears of some as flights got rearranged while others, like yours truly, were still very concerned of the potential issues my home state of Florida may experience. Regardless, it did not stop the cigar fun at the Black Smoke Miami 2019 Havana Nights party being held at Cuban Crafters in Miami.
Havana Nights – Cuban Crafters
Every year, the second event, of this ever growing cigar herf, is held at Cuban Crafters Cigar Factory and Shop. It is one of the few shops in the Miami area that can handle the large crowd that Black Smoke Miami brings in. This year Caldwell Cigars was the premium sponsor at the event along with Hiram & Solomon Cigars, Karen Berger, Camacho, Plasencia Cigars, and of course Cuban Crafters hand rolled. It was a pleasure to see more brands being represented at the event, showing support for the Black Cigar culture and keeping the vibe of the event flowing through the night.
Here is a small video that captures that vibe and all the happy faces of this gathering of brothers and sisters of the leaf from as far way as Las Vegas, New York, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Baltimore, LA, Oakland, and the list goes on.
As I said in my social media posts, “If you ain’t at Black Smoke Miami, you are no where!”. I mean that, this is turning into one of the better events and gathering of cigar smokers from across the country. With this being my third year attending, I have made so many friends and shared such great stories that I can’t count them. Kennedy Achille and his team have taken input over those years and worked hard to make each year better and each year has been better.
Well we made it through the night, Havana Nights that is, and as the sun rose over Miami, reports of an increasing category 4 Hurricane Dorian was all over the news and social media. That of course was not stopping anyone at Black Smoke Miami from having fun. As for me, I relaxed on the pool deck of my hotel, Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club in Miami Lakes. The Shula hotel is a just a short drive from the primary host hotel and I should note, both hotels were completely sold out. That just shows the kind of draw Black Smoke Miami brings in.
After some morning breakfast, coffee, and cigars I pulled myself together and headed over to the Miami Lakes Hotel where I relaxed with some very cool folks from Memphis. I turned them onto some Sexton Irish Whiskey during the afternoon and we sat and chatted about cigars and Memphis. I will need to take up their offer to visit on one my cigar travels and be introduced to the best that Memphis has to offer.
Speaking of best, my Stogie Press associate and good friend ‘Shirtless’ Mike Holmes drove down from Melbourne, FL just for the Friday night ‘Rep Your City’ event and got to hang out with the Memphis team too. Mike was wearing a shirt, but as you scroll down, you will see him at his classic best.
Friday Night – Rep Your City Event
This year, Black Smoke Miami did something a little different. They rented out part of the Miami Lakes Hotel golf course and hosted what was billed as ‘Rep Your City’. The party started around 7:30 PM and there were numerous tents and seating areas set up on the grounds. The vendors and sponsors were wrapped around the perimeter. DJ Ali was spinning the songs through the night and Cigar Mike from Atlanta was calling out the cities. Even Robert Caldwell, from Caldwell Cigars got up on stage and thanked everyone for being a big supporter as he noted, he is a huge supporter of the Black Cigar culture. In fact, he sated that if not for this culture, he would not have been in the business. Kudos to you Robert.
As I walked around the event, we did have a passing shower, but it lasted only a short time and the party did not stop. Smoke was filling the air and drinks were flowing. I did meet two new vendors that I found to have some fine craft; Lee Cecil from Sanctuaire Brands and Christopher Dangler from The Kentucky Double. These two gentlemen shared a tent and had a terrific selection of artisan cigar accessories. If you missed them, check out their websites for more information.
Here is a short slide show and video of the fun that we all had at the Rep Your City event at Black Smoke Miami 2019.
Friday Night After Party
Due to noise restrictions, the main event had to close down at 11 PM sharp and that was just in the nic of time, as the rain started to fall. Now this rain had little to do with Hurricane Dorian, which at this point was a solid category 4 storm with it sights set on the Bahamas. It was just a typical Florida Rain storm, but it made driving to the after party, at Top Notch Cigars, a little more difficult. In fact, I rented a Lyft to take me over. As we approached the road it was on, the police had it shut down and the rain was falling pretty bad. I made the decision to have the driver take me back to the Shula Hotel. I later found out that the traffic was being diverted because the Rolling Stones concert was letting out at that time also. OH well, from what I saw on social media, I missed a good party.
I did however find a group from Dallas sitting out under the tiki hut by the pool at the Shula Hotel. I sat down and we discussed cigars and why I am a Boston Red Sox fan when I was born in NYC – a story that never gets old. We got into sports talk and just a little about the weather, a topic that was on everyone’s mind at Black Smoke Miami 2019. After finishing my late night cigar, I called it a night and made it to my room.
As I awoke on Saturday morning, I checked the news and I just did not like the enormity of the storm that was coming westward towards the east coast of Florida. Having already canceled my Saturday Hotel stay, I left Miami and headed home, bidding farewell and safe travels to all. You never know what happens with storms like this. I was looking forward to going to the Backyard Boogie event this year which was scheduled to be held at the historic Hialeah Park, but the park made the decision to close due to Hurricane Dorian and Kennedy reacted quickly and moved the event back to Cuban Crafters. I followed the event on social media and it looked like it went off without a hitch and everyone was having fun.
In closing, I hope everyone got home safely and enjoyed the events as much as I. Kennedy and his team did an excellent job this year to keep the flow and vibe moving even under the threat of horrendous weather that stayed away. If you live anywhere in the track of Hurricane Dorian, please take this storm seriously. It has, as of this writing, turned into a massive Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 180 MPH and just of over 220 MPH!!! Be safe and help thy neighbors.