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Last Friday I got a haircut in Denver. While Smoking a cigar.
How cool is that? When I was a kid in Parma, Ohio, Frankie Scicchitano would cut my hair to the sound of Frankie Valli and Frankie Avalon, and many of his customers were also named Frankie. Most were smoking. Now it’s a rarity.
I was in town to keynote the Independence Institute‘s 10th annual “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms” party. If you’ve never been to this event, consider it in 2013. It’s a lot of fun. Cam Edwards, the host of NRA News, will be next year’s keynote speaker.
But first I needed a cigar — and a haircut, since C-SPAN’s cameras were coming. I found both at Cigars on Sixth in the Mile-High City. A burly, muscular Gary Audi showed me around, and we enjoyed the Litto Gomez Diez Americano 2012, a full-bodied toro by La Flor Dominicana.
This cigar hit me like a sledgehammer. I think the only La Flor I’ve tasted that as strong is the Double Ligero. But more about that later. (RELATED: The complete “Cigar Hunter” series)
Audi’s shop, owned by the self-styled “Moral Compass” of Denver, Dan Dunne, is a masterpiece of old-world atmospherics. Every piece of artwork, every fixture — even the paint on the walls — seems calibrated to relax. Some of the customer seats are actually old barber chairs. And the lights are mercifully low.
It’s all about making the clientele comfortable, he said.
“We really try to build the shop around relationships,” Audi explained. “Some shops aren’t as warm, they focus so much on retail transactions, or they’re too big, really. They’re sectioned off to the point where you really can’t have a conversation. You just hide out in the corner.”
No one was hiding out while I was there. About a dozen customers — half of them “regulars,” Audi told me — were smoking, reading, and Web surfing on iPads. (Cigars on Sixth, like most shops I’ve seen lately, offers free Wi-Fi.) They were an eclectic mix of old, bearded bikers and business-suited office rats, and an African-American 20-something sporting a spiked mohawk.
“We have a little saying here,” Audi said, without a hint of a grin: ‘We don’t care what color your skin is, as long as it’s tough.’”