In the USA, where Cuban products are wanted but cannot be bought, compromise is in order. There is little point in looking ‘underground’ for say, cigars, or rum unless you have very good connections, which take time to establish.
So, the ascendance of Dominican tobacco as a replacement makes sense because 29% of the city’s 8 million residents are Hispanic, the majority Dominican, and 10-15,000 more Dominicanos arrive each year.
To avoid the many terrible cigar options available, compromising cigar smokers now consider a shop down on 29th Street near Penn Station — “Martinez’s”, a small, old shop, walls adorned with baseball mementos (remember the great pitcher Juan Marichal? — Dominicano) and painted portraits, family photos, and a rotation of three or four cigar makers smoking near black cigars within the beautiful, smoky atmosphere they create.
There are five or six random office chairs, two for customers, where I sit to smoke and spend twenty minutes in observation or conversation. The only thing missing is a barber chair.
About Martinez’ product, the cigar site Kaplowitz posts: “Creamy, lo not barnacle-building tobacco core… balanced by piquancy of white pepper which turns to peppercorn through the schnoz, and a slight Diner cup a’ joe. Butterscotch is on-board. Roasted salt. Leather. Under-belly is dirt with some sweet influence. Smoke stays cool as a cuke. Pass me my tooth-pick, please.”
Whatever that means.