Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast

Recorded at Ten86 Lounge in Hawthorne, New Jersey the lizards pair the Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes LCDH with 7 year aged Havana Club Cuban Rum. This is the first part of four recapping their Cuba trip in March. This week's focus: First Impressions, Food/Restaurants, Culture & In Support of the Cuban People

Join the Lounge Lizards for a weekly discussion on all things cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban), whiskey, food, travel, life and work. This is your formal invitation to join us in a relaxing discussion amongst friends and become a card-carrying Lounge Lizard yourself. This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

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What is Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast?

Released every Tuesday, the LOUNGE LIZARDS podcast helps listeners navigate the experience of finding and enjoying premium cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban) and quality spirits. Episodes range from 60 to 90 minutes and feature a variety of different topics including food, travel, life, sports and work.

The podcast features seven members: Rooster, Poobah, Gizmo, Senator, Pagoda, Grinder and Bam Bam.​

This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

Join us and become a card-carrying lounge lizard yourself! Email us at hello@loungelizardspod.com to join the conversation and be featured on an upcoming episode!

**Gizmo:** [00:00:00] Welcome to the Lounge Lizards podcast. It's so good to have you here. It's a leisure and lifestyle podcast founded on our love of premium cigars, as well as whiskey, travel, food, work, and whatever else we feel like getting into. My name is Gizmo. Tonight I'm joined by Roosters, Senator Pagoda, and bam bam.

On our plans to smoker cigar drinks of Cuban rum. Talk about life, and of course, have some. So take this as your 74th official invitation to join us and become a card carrying lounge. Lizard. Planet meet is here once a week. We are gonna smoke Cuba cigar tonight. Share our thoughts on it and give you our formal lizard rating.

We begin our four-part recap of our trip to Cuba this week, including our first impressions on the island, food and culture recommendations, and our feelings about the Cuban people we met along the way, all among a variety of other things for the next 90 minutes. So sit back, get your favorite drink, light up a cigar, and enjoy as we pair seven year age.

Havana Club Rum with Hoyo de Monterey El elegant L C D H A. Perfecto from Hoyo de [00:01:00] Monterey. Tonight out of Cuba, it's called the Eleg Elegant. It's an L C D H A La Casa del Hamano release. And the size, the factory name is the tacos. Nice. This is a really interesting looking cigar. It's 47 ring gauge by six and a quarter.

I'll be honest, boys, when I, when I got these, when I picked these up, I was a little nervous about them. I think you still are. Yeah. Yeah. I, I mean, that does not look pretty.

**Bam Bam:** I like, it looks interesting. It's different.

**Gizmo:** And the other thing too is I gotta imagine that this is a hard cigar roll, right? I mean, yeah, I would think that they're putting some of the better people on this, but mm-hmm.

I guess we shall see. But first, let's cut this thing. See, we're getting on the cold draw on the wrapper. So for the listener, perfect Perfecto means that both ends of the cigar come to a near point. The foot is a little wider, uh, and, uh, both feet are, I guess, semi-closed. [00:02:00] So when we light this thing, the, the foot is actually gonna open up into the full ring gauge of the cigar.

So it comes to a. And it's gonna open up. So not much on a cold draw. Yeah, not much on a cold draw. Looks like a Salomon. Yeah, it's a perf, yeah. It's very close to a Salomon, but I think the Sal, I don't know if the Salomon flares at the end, but it's a baby salamon. Yeah. It's technically a perfecto. Mm-hmm.

It's a tacos. My draw's pretty tight. I'm gonna keep cutting this thing. Yeah. You need to go

**Bam Bam:** three eights of an inch off the top. Yep. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** I got, I got a pretty good draw. Let's see here. This is any better? Hmm. Little resistance. Not terrible.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. And then this marker may not be our favorite as a group overall.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Little, little tight. Yeah, little tight for sure. What are you guys getting on the cold draw? Tobacco? Not a whole lot. We're getting a little cedar. That's about it. Cedar, yeah. Fried fruit. Mm-hmm. All right. Let's light [00:03:00] this thing boys. It's good to be back. The Hoyo de Monterey Eleg elegant again. It's a 47 ring gauge profeta by six and a quarter inches long.

It does not seem as long as six and a quarter, right? I mean mm-hmm. It seems like shorter to me in my hand, but probably cuz the, the tip

**Bam Bam:** flares a little bit. Wow. Very light cigar

**Gizmo:** smooth.

It's actually pretty nice. A little twang on the, on the light for me. A little salt. Um, it's pretty good, pretty

**Senator:** mild for me. My draw was surprisingly good when I cut this. Now that I've lit it, it's like nothing can make it through this

**Gizmo:** cigar. Oh boy. No air. Yeah. The, the head of my cigar is impossibly tight.

Hmm. So these are four years old. They're out of a, uh, provincial factory. May 19. Uh, [00:04:00] so I'm gonna cross my fingers that this is gonna open up nicely, but it's not off to a great start here. It's starting to, yeah.

I guess we have to be patient too. Rooster. How's your draw? Yeah, it's

**Rooster:** tight, but I'm also waiting for it to open up because the, you know, because of the end. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Pagoda same.

**Pagoda:** Yeah, it was a bit tight. It's, um, yeah, I think, I think we all experiencing the same thing. I've got a

**Bam Bam:** great draw, I have to say.

**Gizmo:** I

**Rooster:** think maybe I should cut it a little bit more.

Yeah, I see. Bam. Cut more.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. This is an old school GIZ cut, so it works well. How come I get trashed?

**Gizmo:** I said old school,

**Bam Bam:** which, which is perfect. This is new school Now you, you're, that's old school.

**Pagoda:** I don't know. It, it's, it's really, uh, like when I smelted before lining it, Like around the wrapper. I thought it was a little sweet milk chocolate kind of [00:05:00] a smell. You know what's funny? Then as soon as, as soon as I took the first draw, it's completely opposite, then it gets very, uh, salty Flo, I, I got the salty floor.

**Gizmo:** Ah, interesting. I'm definitely getting the salt thing, I'm actually finding the flavor to be very pleasant. Yes. So I'm

**Bam Bam:** getting salt on the retro hail. I'm getting a very, like a light white chocolate type of thing right on the retro hail. So I, I kind

**Pagoda:** of smelled it before.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Senator, my draw just opened right up, like outta nowhere.

Did you recut it or no? No, that was after my recut. It was tight and then it just whew. Open right up. We shall see. We shall see. Yeah.

**Rooster:** Cut it. Maybe cut it a little bit

**Gizmo:** more.

**Bam Bam:** We're gonna have senator's gonna have to leave the room soon.

**Gizmo:** Go back to Havana. I know. I'm smoking an oil, that's for sure. Mm-hmm. So this is only the second oil we've done on the podcast.

We, we've done, uh, we've only done the other two epicure number two. Which was very, very early on. Oh yeah. So we've had some folks asking, I know that we're gonna have the Rio Secco, which is a 54 range gauge. So when we do the [00:06:00] block of bigger cigars, we're going to, uh, we'll include that one. We got a box of those now, so, you know.

Yeah. We'll see how the, this performs tonight. Once it's o once it opens up, bam,

**Senator:** bam. Cigar has something it wants to say. Yeah, it's,

**Bam Bam:** it's talking to me right now. It's foot, the foot is unraveling. His mouth is wide open. Yeah. Oh.

**Gizmo:** So I'm definitely getting that milk chocolate thing. No nuendo intended, by the way.

I'm definitely getting that milk chocolate thing on the retro. Yeah. There. That's what I'm getting. There's definitely a coco.

**Senator:** Okay. So the funny thing is, you, you zip through the cold draw. That's the one note I got on

**Gizmo:** the cold draw. See, my cold draw was so damn tight. I was just getting cedar and mine was open.

Open dried fruit,

**Bam Bam:** you know, that's all I got on the cold draw. Cedar. But now nice white light, like a light white chocolate type of thing. Fucking thing.

**Pagoda:** But, but there's also some unpleasantness I'm getting, I don't know what it is.

**Rooster:** It's, yeah, I'm not, I'm not getting anything unpleasant. No. Yeah. I'm

**Gizmo:** getting a lot of cedar.

It's smooth. I also just, I don't wanna work this hard when I light a cigar. Like either, I'm so frustrated right now with [00:07:00] this, this cigar, and it, it seems so unnecessary to me.

**Senator:** We talked on a prior episode about how construction can impact performance. Yes. This is the perfect example of that. Yeah. Yeah. A tight draw that a number of us are fighting with to start, which is clearly impacting our ability to enjoy the cigar

**Gizmo:** and had the construction be decent.

I'm getting good flavor. I, I actually kind of find the flavor to be really interesting and Yeah. I'm with

**Bam Bam:** you on that. Yeah. I like

**Gizmo:** it. Yeah. No, I'm, I don't hate it. If this was, if this was a, a. Let's call it a corona. Yeah. Same length. Mm-hmm. No closed foot, no bullshit, no construction. I think it would be a delicious cigar.


**Bam Bam:** It, it's, it's not a punch you in the face profile, but it's pleasant. It's smooth.

**Gizmo:** I, I almost wish that the epi number one came in this flavor profile, cuz I find that to be a little bit more earthy. People love that, but that cigars not for me. Mm-hmm. Talking about the esp uh, the epicure [00:08:00] number. Yeah.

Maybe it is that one. No, no, no. The epi one. There is an epi one. Yeah, yeah. Epi one is like a Corona, I think. Yeah. I just don't love that flavor profile. I don't hate it, but I hear you. Well, we'll see how it develops boys. So, uh, so this is the group, the five of us. Uh, we were very fortunate the Laos Cubanos, the Cuban lizards, uh, we were very fortunate to go to Havana

Uh, so bam and I went in November and, uh, we just got back about a week ago, the, the five of us. And, uh, We had a great, great time. What an awesome trip. Yeah, it was, it was amazing. So, uh, what were your first impressions? What, what kind of over, you know, definitive statements can you give about the trip boys?


**Rooster:** my first impression was when you started saying, you guys have no idea what to expect. You don't know what to expect. I'm like, well, we have been to other islands. I think I kind of have an idea. I think Senator kind of felt the same way. [00:09:00] Uh, but when we got there, you were, you were kind of right. I mean, we didn't know what to expect.

I mean, you know, first you get off the right off, you get off the phone, get off the plane, and your phone's not working. You gotta get the same card. You don't know if the sim card place is gonna be open. And then everybody's phone was working except mine. Mm-hmm. Which didn't work till like the next day.

Yep. So make sure if you go to Cuba, Very important. Have your phones, if they're locked, get 'em

**Gizmo:** unlocked, get them unlocked. Carrier unlocked. Carrier unlocked. Absolutely. It's crucial. It's a must. And if you're going to Cuba, don't buy a phone within the first 60, like within 60 days of going to Cuba, cuz it's automatically carrier locked to prevent fraud.

**Bam Bam:** Right, right. No, I went to the, uh, to my dealer and had them unlock the phone before

**Gizmo:** the November trip. Yeah, you have to. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Thanks for sharing that before. Well, it was on the list. Yeah, it was, it was, it was on gizmo's list. Yeah. The, the big, the

**Senator:** big summary of it, basically if you buy your iPhone directly from Apple, it's already unlocked.

You don't have to worry about any of this. If you buy direct from the carrier, Verizon, at and t, whoever. Then you [00:10:00] need to get it unlocked because it's locked to that carrier.

**Gizmo:** That's exactly right. Yeah. Luckily I

**Rooster:** was able to get it done the next day and uh,

**Gizmo:** yeah. Yeah, it worked out. But, uh,

**Rooster:** kisir your whole list, you know, made us very prepared for the trip.

All the stuff that we, that we bought. I mean, thankfully we didn't need, uh, antibiotics and all of that stuff, which we ended up giving it to, uh, you know, the people there. Mm-hmm. Which was great. So the sim card, I mean, that thing was small issue. Yep. Cabs, taxi, getting to the casa. I mean, as a US citizen, you can't, cannot stay at a hotel.

Um, so you have to stay at an Airbnb, uh, basically. Which Casa particular? Casa particular, and that actually worked out great. It was fantastic. It was a beautiful place right on the Melancon. Yeah. Right by the water. Mm-hmm. A few

**Gizmo:** off the water. The staff there was wonderful. Staff

**Rooster:** was, were amazing. Seven bedrooms, seven baths.

**Gizmo:** It's a palace. It was. And how cheap? Yeah. It was amazing. You know, that's the thing about going to Havana. I [00:11:00] mean, we will get into it and helping the people and everything, but you can really, you, you can show up there with very little and do a lot. Yeah. Like it is a really, you know, inexpensive way Yeah.

To spend time. Especially if you're interested, let's put the cigars aside. If you're interested in the culture and the music and the art and helping people. I mean, it's just the food and the food and the food. Yeah.

**Rooster:** And, and how safe it is. Like people have a misconception that maybe it's not safe. It's a very poor country.

Maybe there's a lot of crime. Yep. There are no guns on the island. There's no drugs on the island. No. And it's, we've, we all felt very

**Gizmo:** safe.

**Rooster:** Absolutely. You know, we saw people, like even young girls, like walking around at like midnight. Yeah. 1:00 AM. Um, just by themselves. I mean, they obviously felt safe to do that.

**Pagoda:** Yeah. I think the important thing to realize is the rest of the world does go to Cuba. That's true. It's only the Americans who don't. So it is an welcoming island for tourists. Yeah. Yeah. Um, [00:12:00] and I think that helps you change the perspective. Yep.

**Gizmo:** So pagoda, what was your first impression?

**Pagoda:** I think it, um, I was really impressed by the way, because I, I think I might have gone, uh, you know, my view might have been skewed by obviously the conversations prior, but, uh, walking in, uh, pleasantly surprised, although I did feel like, uh, I don't know whether you remember Jordan from Seinfeld when he goes to the soup Nazi.

When I was going through immigration, I race strict, you know, a bit nervous. I'm trying to follow the roads. Uh, but yeah, meaning as soon as we got out, I think it's an island nation and, you know, by the time we got to the casa, saw the water, you know, people are hanging out, uh, beautiful old, uh, vintage cars driving around.

Uh, you know, it's a magnificent buildings, you know, which I did not anticipate. Right. I did not anticipate some high rises over there. I, I think overall, uh, it felt like a city and, uh, you know, I, uh, I suddenly felt very comfortable. Hmm,

**Senator:** I completely agree. For me, it way [00:13:00] exceeded expectations. I think there's this whole mystique about Cuba if you're an American, and that it's this scary, forbidden place.

Um, I think for any listener that has spent any significant amount of time in, in the Caribbean visiting any of those islands, island time is a thing. Cuba is no different. You, things don't happen in an orderly fashion. You gotta wait for things. Sometimes someone's there, sometimes they're not there.

That's honestly everywhere in the Caribbean. So for me, I was pleasantly surprised. It didn't feel out of the norm for what that area's usually like. And then when I say exceed expectations, I mean sort of like pagoda was saying, I expected Cuba, particularly just kind of the infrastructure in some of these buildings and hotels that they would have.

I expected most to be in disrepair. I mean, some of these hotels that we even just walked in, I was sitting there saying, this could be in New York City. Yeah. Like they were beautifully designed hotels that were well maintained. So Hotel

**Pagoda:** Central [00:14:00] Yeah. That

**Senator:** experience that. Yeah. Um, I mean, even the Malia Cohiba was very nice.

Oh, yeah. Um, just so many of them. So, uh, that, I mean, you know, obviously we'll get into some of the restaurants that we visited there. Mm-hmm. But even the experience, even just the aesthetic of some of them felt like they could be in a big major US city. So Cuba is further along than I had imagined before going there.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. It's interesting.

**Pagoda:** And, and there's wealth. You know, you, you get, in terms of the first impression, because I think I walked in with the idea that this could be a very, like, I don't know, I don't know what to expect. I mean, although I've been to China, like in terms of a communist country, is it really poor?

Poor Island Nation cars are from the fifties, but those cars were really well maintained, beautifully painted, you know, like everything. I, it was just very impressive.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. The cars are really something. Yeah. They are. You're, you're riding around in a fifties Chevrolet or a, you know, an Oldsmobile or a Buick.

Mm-hmm. And it's like a lot of them don't have the original engines. A [00:15:00] lot of the engines have been replaced in the vehicles. But you're sitting in the big body, these luxurious, uh, backseats. I mean, four of us could fit in the backseat of these things. Yeah. Or three of us, I mean, five of us plus a driver were riding around in, in one of these cars.

I mean, it, it is amazing cuz you don't have that experience here anymore. No. Right. You know, that's an expensive experience in New York. It was really cool

**Rooster:** to sit in that black t Thunderbird, that Michelle, Michelle Obama and John

**Gizmo:** Kerry Road. That's right. That's right. That was amazing. Yep. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It was, uh, hotel National was a little disappointing. You guys were not happy. I was. I was. I was.

**Rooster:** I mean, I was kind of very excited to go there and smoke a cigar, but it was a bit, bit of a disappointment. Mm. The seating and the

**Gizmo:** service. Looks like it's pretty lit. It's

**Senator:** wide open. And look at this,

**Gizmo:** I'll draw it wide open.

It looks like it's about three quarters lit, half lit from when you draw it. I can see the [00:16:00] red. The whole thing's red. I would give it another shot. I've been scorching this thing. All right. So senator's fighting his, uh, Eleg. Elegants right now. I tell you it won't

**Bam Bam:** look at this. It's performing like an over humidified cigar right now.

**Gizmo:** Well, it's not. I'm getting

**Senator:** no combustion. It's wide open in the middle. Yeah. And I'm getting nothing. That's

**Gizmo:** crazy. Crazy. Mine's doing very well. Me too. I'm really enjoying mine. Yeah. Flavor's great. Yep.

**Pagoda:** Sorry, Senator, but, but back to the same thing, right? You'll find it dod like it's like 20 to 30% of the

**Gizmo:** cigars.


**Senator:** especially with this market. Yeah. This is why I don't smoke oil. Yeah. Yep. So one of the biggest surprises, I was talking about how the infrastructure was honestly better off than I had expected going in. You usually fly into these little Caribbean islands, the airport's number one. Are not air conditioned.

I couldn't believe there's air conditioning in the Havana Airport. Number two, you get off right on the tarmac. You don't, there's no jet bridge and you get out at a gate. That's not a thing in most of these places. I was stunned when the plane was pulling up to an actual jet bridge and we board, uh, dpla into the airport.[00:17:00]

That was even exceeding my expectations. So then we go through, you know, customs and security and all that and get our bag at baggage claim. That process was so easy and quick. Wow. I was

**Pagoda:** shocked and seamless, very well organized.

**Bam Bam:** It wasn't like the first, the first time we went, you and I guess it.

**Gizmo:** It wasn't, it was, it was much tougher.

Yeah. It was way better

**Bam Bam:** this time. Yeah. Yeah. I'm not sure why that was.

**Senator:** They knew all the lizards were coming.

**Bam Bam:** They stepped, they stepped aside.

**Senator:** The country was on high alert.

**Rooster:** Sometimes you get multiple, uh, flights coming in at the same time. Maybe. Yeah. And that can cause like backups at custom, because their computer systems are

**Gizmo:** really slow.

Yeah. Like

**Bam Bam:** coming into customs this time around. There was no one there. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** It was crazy. Yeah.

**Rooster:** We were also the first ones to kind of, you know, get out of the plane. Right. So that helped. But everything was smooth. Yeah. It was great. Yep. The taxi drivers, I was so impressed by his English, uh,

**Gizmo:** cor, uh, corral.

Corral and the other guy. And pilot. No. Oh, uh, [00:18:00] Gustavo. Gustavo. Gustavo, yes.

**Rooster:** Yeah. I'm like, does everybody speak English

**Gizmo:** like you do? No. That took some finding. Oh yeah. That took some finding in November to find a couple guys who could really talk to us. I wish they all spoke English. He was, he

**Rooster:** was an English professor.

At a university in Havana. Mm-hmm. Yep. And now he's like, I make more money driving a cab. Yeah. That's sad.

**Bam Bam:** Well, we've had many discussions the first time we were there with various people and their relatives were doctors or attorneys, and they make less money than most of the, you know, average pro uh, jobs that

**Gizmo:** you can get there.

Yeah. I think the

**Rooster:** average salary is probably around like 50, 50,

**Gizmo:** 50 bucks a month. Yeah. 30 to 50 in that range. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Fifties on the high end

**Senator:** it sounds some our conversations

**Gizmo:** there, which is it's like 30 to 50 bucks, 30 to $50 a month, depending. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and, and the pyramids upside down because it's communism.

So if you're a laborer at the very, you know, at the very front of the, of the production chain, let's say, or, or a taxi driver, whatever, you're making more money than the people who are managing those [00:19:00] people, you know, which is obviously who are doctors and lawyers. Mm-hmm. I mean, it's insane. Yeah. It's ridiculous.

Yeah. Like a janitor at the hospital probably makes more than a doctor at the hospital. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Product of the Soviet system. Yeah.

**Rooster:** So what's the, what's the incentive of even going to school and becoming a doctor?

**Gizmo:** Pride, I think. Yeah, it's pride. Yeah. Family respect. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** But you know, you can see, I could, if you put yourself in their shoes, I can, I can see being lulled into just having a very basic, simple life working in a restaurant or driving a cab and coming home and hopefully have enough to feed my family that week.

**Senator:** You know? And, and I think the other thing is like for some of those higher skilled jobs, like doctors and lawyers, I imagine, I mean, I know there are many, I even know someone personally who has this story. Basically I'm teeing up where their hope is to eventually get out of Cuba, get outta the house. And so they'd rather get those skills so that when they go to another country, they can actually get a good job.


**Gizmo:** And they have. You know, they've, you know, New York Times ran an article, I think I sent it to you guys, it was somewhere around our trip [00:20:00] in November, but they talked about how many of the young, talented folks have left Cuba. So many millions of people have left Cuba during and, and throughout and after Covid, just because the, you know, the, the government's having such a difficult time feeding the people Yeah.

And providing basic need, which is the whole, you know, that's the whole construct of their system. Sure, yeah. Is that you, you're not gonna, you're not gonna want for your needs and what

**Rooster:** an ordeal that is to get out of the

**Gizmo:** country.

**Rooster:** Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. And how much it costs. It's really expensive. And how dangerous.

How dangerous it is. How dangerous it is. It's

**Rooster:** apparent like $4,000 to, you know, you gotta go through Panama and then other countries and eventually Mexico is the hardest part to cross. Sure. And then you pay thousands of dollars and

**Gizmo:** it's not a guarantee. That's right. Yeah. They send you back, you lose your money.

And it's actually

**Senator:** 10,000. So the guy that told us 4,000, that's some crazy discount that he somehow has other folks that I spoke with, and even here, people who either are Cuban or know Cubans that have done it. [00:21:00] 10,000 is the going rate. Wow. It's crazy.

**Rooster:** So if you're making like 30 to $50 a month, how

**Gizmo:** long?

Many. I mean, how do you save that? That's $360 a year. Many years. Yeah. Many years. Guess they borrow from the relatives? The relatives are sending money. Yeah. Side hustles. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. It's, it's a, that's, it's tragic. It is. It is. You know, and, and, and we talked about a little bit about this, bam.

And I, but obviously you guys have now experienced this. I just, I find the Cuban people, despite these challenges and these problems and these, a lot of it, tragedy, you know, not having food or waiting in line for six hours to get food, they're a, a very proud, happy. Resilient. Resilient. And I argue in a lot of ways, content people.

Mm-hmm. Despite everything. Yeah. Which is surprising.

**Senator:** You know, this was like the biggest shock and probably the coolest part of the trip for me. Absolutely. I mean, the Cuban people are some of the most phenomenal people in the entire world to have so little yet be so content, so generous, [00:22:00] so kind. No one's asking for more.

I mean, I, it's like amazing to me. I mean, we're tourists. We're obviously very, for. And we didn't have people asking. I mean, when we even wanted to do something nice for someone, we had to beg them just to take it. Yeah. Yeah. I couldn't believe that. Yeah. Yeah.

**Rooster:** And I mean, I remember like walking down, I don't know what street it was, it was after a, after going to a restaurant, this woman, when their family, like, they're having a party, they're dancing and stuff.

They invited us into their house. They're like, come on in, come on. That's right in Join the party. I'm like,

**Gizmo:** who does that? This is after

**Senator:** La Guita.

**Rooster:** I mean, like here, you don't even know half of your neighbors.

**Gizmo:** That's right. Yeah. I don't know. The people on E like my house is 14. I don't know the people at 12 or 16.

Not at all. You're awful. It's not a, it's a two-way street here. Ba. That's funny. It's true. Yeah, it's true. But yeah, you know, like you said, the, the generosity, I think that Cuban, any [00:23:00] Cuban person that I've met or, or worked with or interacted with, They'll give you the shirt off their back, even if it's the only shirt they have.

You know, very generous.

**Senator:** One of the best examples of this, I still can't believe, we at one point during the trip and will tell this story at some point, needed a translator and Gizmo goes up and arranges for someone to be a translator for us. And he asked him, how much does he want? We wanna compensate for his time.

And he says nothing. Yeah, I was floored.

**Gizmo:** It's amazing. Yeah. And even give him a tip, it was like I was like struggling to have him accept it. I was ready to like try to stick it in his shirt pocket or something. Yeah. They, they truly

**Bam Bam:** want to help people. Yeah. Right. And those around them.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. They're very proud.

Yeah. They're very, very proud. They're

**Bam Bam:** also struggling tremendously though, you know?

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you think about how much we pay for a cigar here. Oh, you know, this cigar I think is about 30, 35 bucks. Ah, please. That's a month of their salary. Ah, that's absurd. And senators fighting to keep it lit. Well that, that's why you will not see

**Rooster:** a local

**Gizmo:** Cuban No.

[00:24:00] Never

**Rooster:** smoking a cigar. That's true.

**Gizmo:** Which is called tobacco. Yes, that's right. And Cuba not a, not a cigar. A

**Rooster:** cigar is actually a cigarette. Cigarette is called cigarette,

**Gizmo:** but not

**Bam Bam:** a cigar. That was cool.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. So the, the music was amazing. There's music everywhere. Yeah. Obviously. And, and we were so fortunate, um, to get to experience.

I mean, these, these trios that walk around and just play acoustic music for Tip mm-hmm. At the Hotel Massal, there's a band that plays there and walks around, which you and I obviously Yeah. Also saw in November. Um, but the music is, Really, really special. Everybody who's playing is rooted in their culture and they're all so proficient.

And talented.

**Bam Bam:** And talented. Very

**Gizmo:** technically proficient. Yes. Yeah. And they're just brilliant musicians. Yeah. The

**Bam Bam:** band at La Carone was excellent. Yeah. Al

**Gizmo:** Carone. Yeah. Al Carone. It's a great restaurant. Um, over, uh, by the Museum of the Revolution. Mm-hmm. Uh, that we love. Yeah. It's a great place. Yep. And they had abandoned there when we were there.

Awesome. That was, it was four or five [00:25:00] women, all women, and these women. Crushing. They were on point. Everybody in the restaurant was like Ford. And you know, here, we've joked about this in the past, you know, we go to a cigar lounge or a restaurant or something and some guy starts playing his acoustic guitar.

It's like, I, I just one

**Senator:** What? Lizard gets very upset. Oh yes.

**Gizmo:** I was gonna say for years. What's the, what's

**Bam Bam:** the term you use? Amateur bullshit's. Right? The

**Senator:** ocean starts boiling.

**Gizmo:** What are we doing? You know, it's like unsolicited, uh, amateur bullshit. I'm not into, but there's none of that in Cuba, man. No, every person that plays an instrument there, they are technically brilliant.

**Bam Bam:** Every vocalist I heard was superb.

**Gizmo:** Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So on the food thing, I mean, For me, I even more than November bam. It was even a bigger surprise this time. Yeah. It was excellent. You

**Bam Bam:** know, I didn't have a bad meal in November. Yeah. I didn't have a bad meal at this trip. I know you guys maybe won.

**Gizmo:** We had one the last night. Yeah. Uh, it wasn't

**Bam Bam:** [00:26:00] great, but I didn't have that experience. I mean, I'm just floored with the food in the cuisine there. I agree. And their ability to deliver it with all the flavors and that's an art.

**Rooster:** And there was ample food. Yeah. There was no shortage of It's subsided. Your fear us.

I mean, not well, but that's what you hear, right? Yeah. Yeah. There's a shortage of

**Gizmo:** food. You can't get this, you can't get that. Well, just to touch

**Bam Bam:** on that, our translator that helped us in at several times during a trip, you know, he, we were all walking at night after dinner at night. We were talking, and I, you know, I said, I said, there must be people all around us right now that are hungry.

And he said, oh, you wouldn't believe how many starving hungry families there are. So that's a real thing. And because we're tourists and we have spending power and we go to these restaurants, they can't go to those restaurants. Yeah. So there is that irony that exists there for us as tourists. It's, it's a little tough to to think

**Senator:** about.

Oh, it is. There's definitely two worlds there. Yeah. I mean, it's like, I mean, even locals we were talking to, I [00:27:00] had asked some question like, you know, how do you, how do you like living in Cuba and do you wanna stay? And this person said to me, you will not find a single person on this island that wants to stay here.

Everyone wants to come to America. Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, I was surprised to hear that. But then on the flip side, you know, they also said, this is a tremendous place for tourists. Mm-hmm. Like, if you're a tourist here, there's so much for you. Yeah. If you're a local, it's not quite the same experience. Um, but I think what was so nice about our trip and why, you know, I, I'm already just so excited about the thought of like, when we'll go back.

There's such a opportunity for tourists to really help. Yes. Locally in Cuba, um, uh, that was like probably some of the most fulfilling parts of the trip. Sure. You can just walk down the street and make some little kids, you know, months if not year, or stop at a school that you happen to see and help out a bunch of people, community centers.

So, um, I think despite how challenging it is for them, for anyone who goes, like, there's such an opportunity to do some really, really [00:28:00] good work and help people that need it there.

**Rooster:** They, they need so much. They do. And they need basic, you know, basic necessities. I mean, nothing fancy.

**Gizmo:** I mean, aspirin, regular stuff, toothbrush,

**Rooster:** toothpaste, I mean women hygiene products.

Right. Clothing, right.

**Gizmo:** Pinky balls. Yeah. So let's, let's, let's detail this a little bit, not as a pat on the back for us, but for a listener who's considering going to Cuba, let's run through some of the stuff that, that each of us brought. So, um, each of us brought a suitcase full of stuff to just give away.

Um, So for me, I always bring feminine hygiene products. I kind of just raid Walgreens and I load up a 50 55 pound suitcase full of stuff. Aspirin, bug spray, sunscreen. And you know, we have a, a, you know, I just handed most of my stuff to a community leader there, Elias, uh, in the Sania movement. And he's like a famous spiritual leader.

Yeah. Spiritual leader there. And he runs a community center and they do a lot of good for, uh, uh, the poorest of, of [00:29:00] Cubans. So I just kind of give him, uh, uh, a lot of my stuff. But I know you guys had some other things, so I'd love to go around the room and, and just kind of lay out some of the things you brought and some of the things you'd recommend listeners bring.

**Rooster:** Yeah, I mean, I, I, I brought a lot of clothing because I'm in the clothing business, garment ladies garments, and we have stores in like the Latin market. So there's a lot of Cubans actually come, so I see when they buy stuff to bring back to their own countries, like what they're looking for. And it's all, you know, summer stuff, I mean all that, this was winter, but there we had enough inventory and I brought a lot of, uh, uh, more than half of the suitcase was full of clothing that, you know, we could give away.

And I'm glad we were able to, and when we go back, I have a little bit of a better idea so I can kind of pinpoint exactly. I know, I know more like what they want and what they need. Mm-hmm. So I can kind of focus on that a little bit better. So yeah, that was

**Senator:** great. I have a little son, so I brought, um, like kids toys, um, pinky balls, [00:30:00] baseballs, uh, hot Wheels cars.

Um, I mean, it was so sad. I remember GIZ saying before the trip that, you know, most kids have at most one toy. I mean, that's like crazy at boast. Crazy to think. Yeah. Um, so it was really cool just seeing the smile on some of these kids' faces. And I know we dropped off a bunch of stuff at that school that they, it was funny and we, we kind of walked up to the school as school was coming out, we were gonna start just handing out all this stuff to kids.

One of the teachers quickly runs over, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don't do that. Come inside, come inside. And she has a start, a riot. Yeah. She has us beat the principal and the principal says, I'll take, take all of it and distribute it out, because otherwise the kids are just gonna go crazy trying to fight over the toys.

Um, so mostly kids stuff, which, um, I intend to bring a lot more

**Gizmo:** of next year. Yeah. I think school supplies are, are like, that's pretty, that's what BAM did. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** So in November, I brought a suitcase full of, uh, notebooks, pads, pens, um, post-its pencils, color, crayons, crayons, coloring books, the whole nine yards that went over really great.[00:31:00]

But where our, where we stayed this time. The school set up there was different than the school where we stayed before. They seemed to be much more open here. Yeah. Uh, so I'm excited if we go back and we stay at the place that we stayed, I'm gonna go all out for that school.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, no doubt. It, it definitely seemed like a school that was like Yeah.

Yeah. It, it seemed like first it was a large school there. Definitely a lot of kids that go there. Probably. Yeah. Much bigger than the other schools. Probably several hundred. That's right. And I think, you know, Senator giving them those toys, those will probably be used, you know, you get a good grade, you get a Hot Wheels to like, and, and that stuff that, you know, is, is gonna really make an impact on kids, which is great.

Mm-hmm. Um, I mean,

**Rooster:** you can really just go to the dollar store and like, load up, load up. There's so much. Yeah. You know? Yeah,

**Pagoda:** no. So essentially very similar to, uh, the rest of the guys that we here. A lot of toys, books, pencils, pens, even sunglasses, you know, hot Wheels. Uh, a lot of the stuff for the kids, uh, you know, uh, when you hand it out to them and see the joy on their faces.

It was, it was just excellent. Uh, [00:32:00] uh. There, there is some joy in giving and seeing the joy in the kids. I'll tell you, it does, uh, make you feel special and, um, in a way kind of is, uh, makes you wanna go back as well. It's, uh, it was excellent.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, it's really magical. I think, I think that I, and certainly I came away with this in November, I think we kind of primed you guys that it was gonna be like this, but certainly in November I went thinking that okay, this is a boy's trip for cigars.

Yeah. And, and I think some of the most impactful things that I left both trips now and I'm, I'm assuming you guys did as well, um, is, uh, you know, the, the, our ability to just help people. And how easy it is for us to do that with things that are so simple for us.

**Senator:** Yeah. I mean, honestly, I, I, I would be excited to go back to Cuba for tons of reasons, but what we're talking about is definitely at the top of that list.

Like you just, they're, you know, we're so fortunate here, we're so busy during the day. It's not like we're [00:33:00] going to work every day and stopping by helping, you know, people who are less fortunate. We, we don't have much time. And when you take a trip like that and you have time and you can make such a tremendous impact just as normal people like ourselves, it's uh, it's a special thing.

And I think, uh, seeing how. Easy it actually is for an American to travel there. Mm-hmm. I'm not even sure if we mentioned the 12 categories. If not, we've kind of Yeah. The general licenses. Yes. Yeah. I mean, it's like if you're an American, you're probably sitting there saying like, well, how exactly do you go about visiting Cuba?

Sure. Um, there's really 12 categories that the US allows travel to and from Cuba. And one of them is simply in support of the Cuban people and it's literally doing what we are describing, just supporting and helping the people in any way. Mm-hmm. No matter how small. Yeah. Um, that's a legitimate reason to visit and Sure.

That's definitely the top of my list of reasons I

**Gizmo:** want to go back. And what also plays into that too is staying at a, a Casa owned by a Cuban National Yep. Eating at restaurants that are not government owned, they're not in hotels. You're eating at. [00:34:00] Privately owned restaurants. That's very important. Very important.

And you want to do that

**Rooster:** anyway, because the ones that are got a state run are


**Gizmo:** You'll

**Bam Bam:** know as a visitor, you'll know immediately. Yeah. State run's, state run

**Gizmo:** and what's not. Oh, yeah, yeah. If

**Rooster:** you don't, if you don't get the menu within the first half an hour, you know, you know it's a state run.

**Senator:** And when you get the menu, if there's one item on it.


**Gizmo:** And they only, and they only have half of what's on the, do you want ham

**Rooster:** and cheese sandwich or do you want cheese and ham sandwich?

**Gizmo:** Oh, by the way, there's no ham. There's no

**Rooster:** ham. Just the cheese.

**Gizmo:** It's a ham and cheese sandwich. No ham.

**Senator:** No, but it's so true. I mean, honestly, one of the days, we were one of the early days in the trip, we were trying to figure out our kind of breakfast routine, and we went to this hotel that's nearby and it's a fairly nice hotel.

And we're like, okay, we'll go get breakfast there. And I just remember you like walk in and there's like just a few people sitting at tables. It's very quiet and, uh, no one seems interested in at all serving us or telling us, you know, take a seat. And, uh, finally when someone does, uh, we ask if they serve breakfast, and they're like, oh, uh, [00:35:00] Just sandwich.

We just have one sandwich. We're like, okay. And then we're like asking them what's on the sandwich and they're said something like, uh, ham and cheese and egg. And I'm expecting like, you know, an egg ov easy or something with a nice runny yolk. And it's like, oh no, we get the sandwich and it's like a boiled egg that's like over boiled and like chopped up.

Like it was just not what you get at other restaurants that are privately owned in Cuba. So it's like, I don't say that as, oh, you know, I have this ridiculous standard there, but you go to some of these non-government owned restaurants and you're stunned how great the meals are there. Oh yeah. And then you just see how stark the contrast is when you go to one of these government places.

So, um, I advise trying to frequent privately owned establishments and yeah, even when you stay at a house, a lot of the time what the case was at our place. Um, the, the folks who are managing the property, they'll for a very modest fee cook breakfast for you and anyone else who's there. And we definitely took advantage

**Gizmo:** of that.

Oh, that was amazing. It was so good. The, the, the, the guy who, uh, it kept our casa named Yvonne. Made an [00:36:00] incredible breakfast for us every morning and we'd, we'd, we'd start our day, we'd go up on the on the roof light a cigar. Relax and have this amazing breakfast, and it was served so slowly. Mm-hmm. You know, you'd first get your guava juice, then you'd get toast.

You'd get your toast. That's right. You'd get the, the fr uh, the fruit plate with the Yep. By the way, the fruit off the charts excellent. I mean, it doesn't taste anything like the fruit we get here off the charts. It's just so fresh and they cut it every morning. And the coffee. And the coffee. Coffee was great.


**Bam Bam:** was good. The coffee was good, right? Strong. Yeah. Oh yeah. Like

**Gizmo:** you, like it? Only, only issue I have There's no milk. No, there's no, no. It's powdered

**Rooster:** milk. I miss, I, I miss, like, you know, I like to with a half and half a little

**Gizmo:** bit of cream. Yeah. You can't get that. You should bring some of those, those creamers that don't need to be refrigerated.

You should bring some of those next time. Yeah, that's a good idea. Yeah. Like the, That's a great idea. The little cups. The little cups. Great idea. Rooster's gonna bring his German the next trip.

**Bam Bam:** Yvonne, here you go.

**Gizmo:** By

**Rooster:** the way, no issue with plugs [00:37:00] there. Which was, which was very good. I was a little concerned about that.

So just, it's a good idea to kind of take

**Gizmo:** power, power, power. Yeah. Power. Power. Plugs.

**Senator:** Plugs. Yeah. Yeah. It's really crazy. I mean's to rooster's point, I I, I'm really shocked by this, but they have both, yeah. Standard American plugs and 1 10, 20. Mm-hmm. So like whatever country you're visiting from, it's very easy for you to be able.

Plug your stuff in and not have to worry about adapters and all that. You should still bring an adapter just in case every place is not the same. That's exactly, of course, that's exactly right. But the fact that there are options that do have both is,

**Gizmo:** is pretty remarkable. And the best thing on Airbnb is just to contact the owner or the casa prior to going.

Yeah. And asking them what they have and what to bring so you can manage expectations. It's very cheap to get the adapters online on Amazon, you get three for 25 bucks or something, so I just bring them anyway. Yeah. Uh, but you know, it, it is good that they have both options at the casa. Yeah. It was really especially

**Senator:** nice they had those.

Gizmo one time during the trip. Really needed his shirt steamed.

**Gizmo:** Did he? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He did. Did you not ask Steve? I did, but don't, don't put this [00:38:00] on me. But he was, he was

**Rooster:** getting laundry done every other

**Gizmo:** day. He was that too. Listen, I'm a laundry, laundry fanatic. I like, I only

**Senator:** said because Gizmo thought it was so funny when you brought a steam.

I'm getting, I'm getting, he's giving us the list of things you need to bring collared shirts, uh, this, all this stuff cuz some of these places are a bit nicer. And um, I was like, okay, well can I bring like a travel steamer or something? Or do they have an iron? Cuz you know, if you bring any kind of collared shirt, it gets wrinkled.

It's all stuffed up in your bag. Sure. And gizmo's laughing at me. Oh, senator's gonna bring a steamer. And about halfway through the trip I just hear he's in the room next to me. Senator, can I use your steamer? No, I didn't even ask if I could use it. I

**Gizmo:** said, can you

**Senator:** steam my shirt, my shirt? I'm like, just give your damn shirt.

So there's a, you know, for, for anyone who travels quite a bit, a travel steamer is a very good investment.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Senator came prepared. He did. All right, so we'll get back to food in a second here, boys. We're coming up, I guess on the halfway mark here of the Hoyo Eleg. Elegants. I'm enjoying the cigar. Uh, I'm, I'm kind of in, [00:39:00] uh, I don't mind it.

It's decent right now. Yeah. I don't mind it. It's not great. Not getting a whole lot of flavor. Me neither. It's, I can't even tell like what notes? Uh, I'm getting a very round sweetness. There's a little bit of covering the roof of my mouth, but it's just not special or interesting at all. The fact that they put an L Cdh band on this a La Casa del Hao band, I think is a sin bait and switch.

And the fact that you said it's $35. Oh man, that's criminal. Yeah, it kind of, it's a sin. Yeah. Now

**Senator:** one person in this room is raving about this cigar and it's 35 bucks. Yeah. I like the way

**Pagoda:** you say it's criminal.

**Bam Bam:** It's a crime. It's like, I like that word.

**Senator:** Just sell a cigar for 35 bucks. That not one person out of five is enjoying.

That's a problem.

**Bam Bam:** I don't hate it.

**Senator:** I can't say that I hate it. I'm not saying that you hate it, I'm just saying you're not raving about it. For,

**Gizmo:** for $35, you should love the cigar.

**Senator:** You can buy a Chef's edition almost for that. Sure. It's $39 for a Davidoff Chef's edition.

**Rooster:** We talking about five people eating breakfast on the rooftop at the casa for 35

**Gizmo:** bucks.

Yeah. [00:40:00] For the week total. Total four for the week, four courses. And they were all good. You're close. Yeah. So, uh, before we jump in back into restaurants, boys, let's talk about our pairing tonight. So we, uh, we're fortunate we brought back some Cuban rum. Uh, we brought back this one, we brought back another one that we'll have a couple weeks on a, on a upcoming episode as we continue recapping our Cuba trip.

Tonight, though, we have the very delicious Havana Club seven year. Yeah. And, uh, I think this was a little bit of a revelation because I think Senator had mentioned prior to going, he'd had this somewhere in the States prior, so I, and it wasn't great. I did too.

**Senator:** So I, so the thing is, uh, anywhere outside the US you can get Cuban products, so, okay.

Sorry. Whenever I travel or vacation in Europe, you can get Havana Club anywhere. It's just standard fair rum everywhere. And when I was in Greece just last year, um, I had gotten some Havana Club seven having [00:41:00] a cigar, and it was, it had a real bite. I mean, it was harsh. I, I couldn't even drink at Nita. I had to get a lot of ice to really just kind of mellow it out so I didn't have a high opinion at all of Havana Club seven.

And then shortly before our trip, as in a few months before, I'm sitting in our lounge here with, um, a friend of ours and this new member comes in and he's got a bottle of Havana seven. And he's like, oh, do you guys want some? And I was like, no, thank you. Because I didn't think it was very good last time I had it.

The guy I'm with, he takes a little taste and he, and he's visited Cuba. He has actually been very helpful to us, um Oh yeah. Uh, with this, with all of our trips there so far. And, uh, he's got this big grin on his face and he looks at me and he goes, this is way better than I remember it. And he was, this guy's been a Cuba like 10, 15 times.

Yep. And so I take a little bit of, of it and I'm sitting there saying, oh my God, this is so smooth, so enjoyable. And it's nothing like what I just had a few months ago when I was in Greece. [00:42:00] So something is different recently. I don't know what it is, but when you say a revelation like for. I was stunned how good this is.

And the price point is absolutely outrageous. I mean, we got it for 20 bucks a bottle, 20 us a bottle. Yeah. And every one of us is sipping this meat with no ice. Yeah. It

**Bam Bam:** would actually be a crime to have ice with us. It's so delicious and smooth. Great. Vanilla caramel there. A little bit. Tiny bit of cinnamon.

I think it's really something special for what you're paying for it.

**Gizmo:** So we, we started the trip with, uh, 11, 12 year age, uh, uh, Santiago. Yeah. Santiago, which is, uh, we, we started the trip at 20. No, but I'm saying that we purchased a few bottles and then we migrated. Really? We were, we were drinking a lot of the Havana Club seven for most of the

**Rooster:** week.

Yeah. Yeah. But at Malia Cohiba, that was the first

**Gizmo:** time. And we had a 20 there. That At the 20. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So we're gonna have that in a couple weeks on a future episode. Cause we brought up all of that home. Right. But, um, yeah, I, I, I find this to be great. [00:43:00] Now, the one thing that you guys got a little, uh, so I had it in my fridge.

And I brought it up to the roof deck and you guys were not happy that it was cold. Did it change something for you about it?

**Senator:** I have a very strong feeling about this and I should be, I wish I could explain it better cuz I don't know why a lot of spirits people like to chill because it takes some of that burn off it, it smooths out some of those rough edges.

Like you see people who are like vodka drinkers, they wanted ice freezer, ice cold like a martini. Mm-hmm. Because then you, you don't get the same bite for some reason with rum, again, I can't explain it, but rum cold, it almost brings out a bite. It doesn't take away any bite. And so when it was in your fridge and we brought it upstairs, I'm sy.

I'm like, wow, I'm not enjoying this as much as I was the other night. And then the next night we had it warm and it was back to exactly how, yeah, I expected it. So absolutely. I think this is how it should really be. Unless

**Gizmo:** it's Captain

**Rooster:** Morgan

**Gizmo:** that can be

**Bam Bam:** cold. Yeah. There are some [00:44:00] spirits that do very well Room temperature.

Yeah. And even some SCOs that we love that we can drink without ice, much prefer room temperature than cold.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. I find this to be, uh, it, it's a really wonderful warm rum. It's, it's, i I, it's absolutely delicious. I wanna say viscous, but I, you know, it, it, it really just takes over your mouth for a moment in, in a really wonderful way.


**Senator:** yeah. And the thing I love most about this, I think anyone who's heard us talk about spirits, wine, any of that, I'm a huge fan of things that are on the drier side, not super dry, but I don't like overly sweet things. That's my problem with most rum that's not made in Cuba or Jamaica, honestly, is that there's a ton of added sugar.

And it's way too sweet and you get a hangover because it's all this added crap in there, and you feel bad the next morning. This rum is perfectly balanced. It's just a little sweet, not too sweet, little dry, not too dry. So for a $20 bottle, I think like. [00:45:00] They've struck the perfect balance that I think most people, not all, um, seek when they're looking for a refined rum

**Gizmo:** or spirit.

**Rooster:** Agreed. It's a, it's a good thing that Havanas doesn't own,

**Gizmo:** bro. The rum factor, the rum factories,

**Senator:** this'll be $80 next year. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Speaking of rum factories, we were, I, I don't know if you guys pointed out, but on the, uh, the Prada, the old Bacardi factory is there. Yeah, yeah. That obviously was pushed out. Very cool.

You know, in Puerto Rico now. Yeah. During the revolution it was pushed out. Mm-hmm. But the old factory remains, and I believe they rolled cigars there for some time. I don't know. Um, I'm not sure they did some sort of other production there for some sort of vice. It was either cigars or Bram or something else.


**Rooster:** I mean, you can, you can kind of roll cigars in any building. I mean, if you have to, if you have the raw material and the torso doors,

**Gizmo:** you probably roll them in your garage. Put a couple of dusts I wish in Patterson. Yeah. All right, so let's get back to the food because that was, uh, that was a real special Yeah.

Part of the trip. Sure. And, and certainly food always creates [00:46:00] great memories, right? I mean, when you go somewhere, you go on a vacation, I find that I always remember. The restaurant experiences and the conversations you have and the people you're with. Yes. It's always a definitive, it becomes an imprint.

Like a timestamp for me. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Go

**Rooster:** back to the, uh, you know, what do you recommend, like for somebody who's going the first time, would you recommend this day in Old Havana, or would you

**Gizmo:** recommend this? That's a great question. That's a great question. So we stayed in Old Havana, uh, in November. In November.

It's different than where we were very different. A lot of walkup, uh, very tight spaces, but you're really close to everything. You don't need

**Bam Bam:** as many taxes. Yeah. It's more densely populated. So you get the sense of the city and you actually get to see, like, I, I really wanted you guys to see the, the decay of the city and, and how it's really starting to fall apart.

We saw that when you walked around a little bit. Yeah. Visually it's, for me, it shocked me when I was there the first time. I was really shocked. But that's the cool thing about staying in downtown. You get to really see a lot of that.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. You get,

**Senator:** see a lot of the, oh, I mean, as an architect, I feel like [00:47:00] you were having an aneurysm was the street we walked down, like, that's unsafe.

That's not to come. Yeah. Like they're holding that

**Gizmo:** up by two, by fours. It's unbelievable.

**Rooster:** Yeah. But so having stayed, you know, in Old Havana or Havana and then also stayed where we stayed, which is in Vido. Vido. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Where do you, uh, more

**Bam Bam:** sub, so that was a suburban setting and it's much quieter. I would probably stay where we stayed the second time.


**Gizmo:** I, I'd stay in Vido

**Senator:** personally. Yeah. I, my take on this, I didn't stay where you guys have, but we certainly walked around that area to at least understand it. Mm-hmm. If I were traveling by myself or with just very few people, I actually may be inclined to stay closer to where you guys did in November.

A hundred percent agree. Yeah. And I say that because you're not like coming back to like your place with a big group and you're gonna spend a lot of time there. If you're just you and another friend or even just two other friends, you maybe wanna just spend your nights out more. Yeah. Around other people.

That's true. Experiencing other things. So I, that would make me more inclined to [00:48:00] probably stay closer to that like downtown area. But if you're traveling with a bigger group, five or more, I think you kind of at the end of a day where you've gone out and done all these great things and seen sites and had a great meal.

Yeah. You kind of just want to come back and with your group, have cigars, have some rum and just, you know, sit on your rooftop or whatever the kind of setup is there. That's where I think our setup is really ideal. Yeah. It's like

**Bam Bam:** every urban setting, right? So when you're staying in an urban center, you can walk, we walked out of our casa and a block away had breakfast.

Yeah. Another block away. Had a coffee. But

**Gizmo:** all the, most of the restaurants we went to were all walking very close

**Bam Bam:** to where we stayed in November. Yeah. And four blocks from where we stayed, we had the parka

**Gizmo:** shop. Yeah. Where were you guys? Oh, you were close to the Partica shop, right? We were actually right by Al Corone.

Yeah. In Cha Chacha. Yeah. Very

**Bam Bam:** close. Yeah, right there. So, Senator, that's very good advice. It depends on the size of the group and what you're hoping to do also. You really pick

**Gizmo:** your location. Yeah. And, and for this group, the five of us, we had a very specific agenda of, of, you know, kind of staying isolated.

Just the five of us. Let's experience it like this. So the house that we [00:49:00] stayed in, the way that we stayed, having the roof, It just worked, you know, for this trip, it's perfect, you know. Um, but it was good when we went in November because we really did a lot of walking. We did a lot of, so we saw everything.

We saw so much. And it also, you know, I, I, I told some folks who were talking about going to Cuba, some listeners emailed. I find if you, if, if you're uninitiated, you know, uninitiated with Cuba, you know, and, and you're not super familiar with what to bring or what to do, I probably would stay in in, in old Havana or something like that.

Yeah. As opposed to Adato, because you're gonna, you're gonna have difficulty getting cabs. It's transportation. Yeah. It's gonna get costly very quickly. Um, you know, so, you know, if you're uninitiated, that's where I would stay. Yeah. I

**Rooster:** mean, by the way, Alvo is only about

**Gizmo:** four or five miles from, it's about 10 minutes, eight, 10 minutes away.

It's all very close. Yeah. $20 taxi ride. 10 10. Yeah.

**Rooster:** Yeah. Or if you have uh, lave the

**Gizmo:** local Uber app. Yeah, the local Uber app. They don't like that we use that, but we do. Is that right? Yeah. Ah, that's for locals. Okay. But who cares? Leve [00:50:00] download it before you get there. Um, so restaurants, food. I thought this trip, the food was excellent.

Even better than November. And so we started, what was the first restaurant we went to? The lunch. The lunch spot. At lunch spot. Ah, which is great. There's Marden. That's a staple great place for us. Yeah. Very close to where we stayed there. Oh yeah. Best

**Rooster:** rice and beans and uh, toast

**Gizmo:** donuts. And that was so cheap as well.

Yeah. Yeah, they're so hospitable, friendly. They have like a front patio area where you can smoke and then yeah, they have an air conditioned closed, uh, uh, restaurant area. Mm-hmm. Very small place. Clean off the beaten path. Nicely done. Very clean, very nicely done too. And the food is great. Yeah. So we ate there.

We had a breakfast or lunch there, and then we had a lunch. Mm-hmm. A another lunch there as well. Mm-hmm. It was excellent. No complaints at all. Yeah. Uh, so then we did, um, what else did we do? Uh, we did Al Corone, obviously with Juan Moy Saturday

**Rooster:** night. So that, that night we went

**Gizmo:** to cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha.

That's right. We Saturday night.

**Bam Bam:** We love Cha cha cha. It's a great place. Oh

**Gizmo:** [00:51:00] yeah, yeah. Well, the beef tips. Yeah. Tell 'em about the Beef Senator. I love how you tell this story.

**Senator:** Was it they ran out of Yeah, they ran outta Cuban beef. Oh yeah. This is so funny. So, um, gizz had eaten there before, uh, some of us had.

**Gizmo:** And yeah, I got, so I got there

**Senator:** three days before these. Yeah. So he's like, you gotta get these filet mignon tips they have there. So we go to order it, and the, the waitress, she's like so disappointed to tell us, she's like, we don't have any more Cuban beef. So it will be, uh, from Argentina. I'm looking at her like, Argentina has some of the best beef in the world.

I've take Argentina, exporter of beef. I'm like, I'll take that any day over a Cuban or American Beef. I mean, they have great, great, great product there. Um, so the food was actually really, really good. But even when you just walk in that place, back to my point earlier about how like some of these places you go in, in Havana literally look like they could be in New York, la, or a major city.

That place had like this Brooklyn kind of vibe to it. Yeah, great ambiance, very trendy, like wine bottles on [00:52:00] the ceiling. The like hostess. This guy's got a blazer. He's dressed up like the

**Bam Bam:** servers. The servers were high energy and very friendly.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, they were great. Very quick on their feet too. Oh yeah.

Yeah. So

**Rooster:** that was a bit of a shock to me. Yeah. How good the restaurants are. Yeah. And the menu and everything else. You thought you, I thought we were gonna

**Gizmo:** starve. Well, I

**Rooster:** had, I mean, that day I had the mushroom risotto. It was, it was delicious. Off the

**Gizmo:** char. I would compare

**Rooster:** that it was better than some of the risottos I've had

**Gizmo:** anywhere else.

Yeah. Yeah. It was delicious. Excellent. So, uh, we had some wine at Cha cha cha that you ordered. That was pretty good. Yeah. Serviceable. It was serviceable. I, I find the wine, I is surprisingly decent in Cuba. I did expect it to be very bad table wine, you know, when I went in November. But it was good. I ended up not being the case.

You know, so the next night we went to Cardone, which is right around the sh, right around the corner. That place is just excellent.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. It's a combination of traditional cuisine and the ambience is very traditional, but it's so nicely done. [00:53:00] Food's prepared. Great. I think I

**Senator:** was very pleased there that I initiated gizmo into a particular dish.

That's one of my all time favorites. It was amazing.

**Gizmo:** Was it a river? It Carpa. Oh. Oh. Dave Carpa. You're in. I never had restaurant. Yeah, I never had it,

**Senator:** honestly, as a starter. It is phenomenal. It's like shaved, like, like steak basically super, super thin. They'll put like arugula, some like olive oil, uh, some G graded Parmesan, some do capers.

Fantastic. The

**Bam Bam:** Pacio everywhere we went was great. I liked it at Chacha Cha

**Pagoda:** better. Yeah. Yeah. I think I, I really enjoyed

**Gizmo:** it. Yeah. A lot of ceviche and Cuba too. We had it almost every restaurant. Oh yeah. Which was excellent. I was swimming in ceviche. You did You guys like

**Rooster:** carbon better than

**Gizmo:** Chacha Cha or They're different but both.

I thought they were good. Neck and neck for me. We went to Cha Chacha twice.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I love them both for me. Yeah. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** for

**Rooster:** me it was, uh, the other one, the lag Gori

**Gizmo:** though. Oh, well. Yeah. We have about that. We'll get there. No, that's special. We'll get there. I'm jumping ahead. Yeah. [00:54:00] That's the special one.


**Senator:** special. Yeah. But I think must visit So far we're definitely saying Chacha cha. If you go, you have to eat carbon and Al carbon. Carbon and carbon. Also the live

**Gizmo:** music component there is So that's where the the band, the, the all women band. Oh. Plus Crush. Crush. You can smoke inside. Oh

**Senator:** yeah. Could another great point.

You couldn't do that at

**Gizmo:** Chacha cha

**Rooster:** at table. That's right. That's right. You know you could smoke inside. Yeah. Listen to the band eating food and uh, how you gonna beach enjoy

**Gizmo:** the drinks. Amazing. That. Yeah, I love you just sit down and you pull a cigar out and all of a sudden an ashtray disappears. Like magically, like outta nowhere.

The, the, an ashtray just shows up on the

**Senator:** table. Literally the stuff lizard dreams are made of. Right. When we sat down, I was just sitting there like, this is all I've ever wanted. If I could do this everywhere in America, oh my goodness,

**Gizmo:** be in heaven. And

**Rooster:** the waiter that we had at, uh,

**Gizmo:** carbon, oh, that guy was

**Rooster:** great.

He was very knowledgeable, very professional. Professional. Yeah. He had idea about wines. I mean, he had, he

**Gizmo:** was, he was great. Yeah. You know, it was perfect. That

**Senator:** wine was very good. [00:55:00] He was a very, you know, um, a, a guy at our lounge shoe, I said has been extremely helpful to us. Uh, just in planning our Cuba trip.

I was talking to him, uh, talking with him about this the other day. The people in Cuba for how limited the resources are there. They're very, That, that waiter, yeah. He and I were talking wine. I mean, most of the night. He h I don't know where he's getting all this in. Like this is not a country where everybody's on the internet on their phone twenty four seven and has access to all the information we do.

There was no wifi. Right. It's like how he knew some of the stuff that he did. I was just so impressed. Like also like his knowledge of just different parts of the world and travel it. It's, you have some really fascinating conversations with locals there and it just blows your mind because you know, here, it's easy to take for granted because we have access to so much information and education and all of that, and they don't have the same there yet.

Somehow they're picking all of this up. That was such a cool experience. [00:56:00]

**Gizmo:** Yeah. There I find that the people are really, really sharp and bright. Sure. Across the board, they're very well educated. You know, it's like taxi drivers. I mean, some of the best conversations that we have are with people in a

**Bam Bam:** car.

Many misconceptions about

**Gizmo:** Cuba. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm glad that we're able to talk about some of those and, and eliminate them because there are so many people out there just telling, just lies about Cuba. Oh yeah. I mean, it's just not the case. Yeah. Yeah. It's funny,

**Senator:** I mean, I was sitting there saying to myself like, I don't wanna say communism works because I mean, it

**Bam Bam:** doesn't, it doesn't, you're saying that,

**Senator:** but, but you go to, you go to, you go to Cuba and it's just like, you know, in spite of.

These people have just somehow like mm-hmm. Found a way to keep themselves so connected with the world, even though in so many ways they're so disconnected. Yeah. I mean

**Rooster:** it's, it's communism works if you go there as a tourist, but not as a person

**Gizmo:** who lives

**Senator:** there, you know? I agree. But I'm saying the fact that even as someone who [00:57:00] lives there, they're able to get this somehow, this education and knowledge.

Right. Despite like everything being so state controlled and here's what you should know and all of that. Right. I was just amaz, I mean, I'm literally sitting here like, how does this guy know this? Yeah.

**Gizmo:** And I, I think the one thing that transformed that for them was the internet. The fact that the internet is so, so available.

It's pervasive. It's pervasive, yeah. You download a VPN or something, you know, you can access any information. I mean, it's hard for any government to, well, we can,

**Senator:** they

**Gizmo:** can't download a vpn, but there's ways that they get around it. For sure.

**Senator:** So you're saying there are other gizmos in Cuba?

**Gizmo:** There are a lot of gizmos in Cuba.

**Pagoda:** Hey, don't get the people into trouble there, buddy.

**Gizmo:** There's a lot of, you know, listen, there's phones coming in from other areas of the world. Yeah. And already preloaded. You know, there's a lot of ways that you can do things, but, you know, it's, uh, it is nice to see that, that they're finding a way to, to do their very best and try to make it work

**Bam Bam:** from the point of view of communication.

The WhatsApp app is extraordinarily helpful. Yeah. Even for me communicating back here at home with clients and more ways than one. Yeah, [00:58:00] no, it's, it's fantastic. And with Mrs. Bam, bam, just communicating with her, it's the easiest

**Gizmo:** way to, to communicate. And you can make calls too, over data. Sure. So, you know, in the US it's iMessage because Apple's so, yeah.

Uh, you know, everybody has an iPhone, right? So if you're

**Bam Bam:** traveling to Cuba, that's

**Gizmo:** a must. You want to use that WhatsApp and set your people up at home on WhatsApp. And also maps.me. Which works, it does work without wifi. That's true. You gotta download the Cuba map, but at least you have a direction where you're going very, very helpful.

Because Apple maps, Google Maps, ways do not work. Right. Uh, in Cuba, at least, especially without internet, you need to download maps.me mm-hmm. And download the Cuba

**Senator:** map to your phone. I mean, that thing without internet honestly worked better than some of our maps here. Totally. With internet, I was so shocked.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, Google translates another one as well, so you can translate your stuff. Yep. Um, alright, so we'll get back to restaurants in a second. We're coming in the last third here. Boys of the oil alleg. Elegant. Yeah. Mediocre at best. Okay. For me,

**Senator:** I had to give up on my I know. You quit. It won't smoke. I [00:59:00] mean, I, I took a perfect draw to it, which opened it up completely.

And when I just draw air, I get no smoker combustion back in return. It, it's very odd.

**Gizmo:** Crazy. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** It's a, it's a mark of this maker. Right. So mine's, mine's smoking perfectly fine.

**Gizmo:** Brewster, hows yours? I

**Rooster:** mean, I'll say it again. The La Hok series is, is a better hoyo de Monterey than epi two, epi one speciality with this.

So yeah, I'm not, I'm not getting like a whole lot. The draw is still tight, so you're not

**Gizmo:** not

**Bam Bam:** enjoying it. Yeah. It's unremarkable, but for me it's not, it's not a bad cigar. Can't say

**Gizmo:** I'm get a good combustion. The flavor is, there's there, but it's, there's nothing interesting or complex about it. Right, right.

It's sweetness. It's, it's just, it's. Pagoda. How's yours? Pretty much the

**Pagoda:** same thing. I, you know, I've been able to smoke through it. Uh, but yeah, there's, it's pretty much, uh, not all, it's

**Bam Bam:** not offering much. It's kind of a dud.

**Gizmo:** It's ever dud. At best. It's a morning cigar. Yeah. At best it's very, it's very [01:00:00] mild.

But imagine working this hard when you're trying to have a cup of coffee in the morning. Yeah. $35

**Bam Bam:** morning cigar. That's, I think your

**Pagoda:** lungs are gonna get exercise. I don't know about that. That was sucking onto something. It's,

**Senator:** thank God for Havana Club. That's what

**Gizmo:** seed my, yeah, there you go. Oh,

**Bam Bam:** big time.

Yes, please. Who needs a refill?

**Gizmo:** I need a refill. That's a good one tonight. Delicious. So, uh, so some of the other restaurants, one of the, one of the off the beaten path places that we found in. Thanks to our friend Phil, that, uh, that, that senator mentioned a few times, who's been there 10 or 12 times, um, who was, who was a great guy to us in November, uh, we found, uh, Sani.

Pescador The Fish Restaurant. Yes. Oh. Which is off the beaten path. I mean, you, if you don't know where that place is, you're missing out. You're gonna, you're go, you're gonna get lost because it's in the middle of nowhere on the water. Mm-hmm. And it is phenomenal food.

**Pagoda:** Beautiful setting, too.

**Bam Bam:** Beautiful setting.

Would you call it a, a speakeasy type of

**Gizmo:** a. Uh, no, I would call it like a, like a really, really just a hidden gem. It's a hidden gem. Hidden gem [01:01:00] Seafood. Yeah. I mean, it's all fresh seafood. Yeah. Huge portions. I

**Senator:** devoured the food there. Yeah. We actually over ordered there. Well, we devoured every crumb.

Remember we got some fit, like sea bass we were sharing in the middle of the table Lobster? No,

**Rooster:** that was a Maria swordfish. That was at Maria. He's talking about San

**Senator:** Oh, you're talking about the like sushi, the, the raw pla. Oh yeah. That

**Gizmo:** place was cool. Yeah. On the water. Mm-hmm. There was another place on the water, which Oh yeah.

Senators alluding to, which is Maria also very good. Which was beautiful. Another off the beaten path kind of place about 20 minutes from where we were staying. Yep. Um. And so we went there kind of late afternoon, early evening as the sun was going down. The views were incredible, gorgeous. Great. Great setting.

Yeah, great setting. Oh, beautiful setting. Very romantic, very classy. Ba bam. And I had a really romantic evening. I held your hand. You did Very erotic. Uh, the food was just, the, the food there was was also excellent, but I, I think Santi took the, was a little bit better for me than, uh, Maria. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

**Senator:** I don't know.

I [01:02:00] might go the other way. I might go the other way.

**Bam Bam:** Really? I'm with, I'm with Gaz. I like, it's so unpretentious and very relaxed. But the food I think was fantastic.

**Senator:** I don't even, I don't mean the ambiance or the restaurant itself. Mm-hmm. I mean the food, food wise, the reason I say that is like the, the raw food was excellent there.

It was, despite it not agreeing with my stomach that much, uh, it was great while I ate it. Amateur. Um, oh, some stomachs have standards. Gs I'm sorry.

**Bam Bam:** Well, some stomachs are more seasoned. Ooh, no,

**Gizmo:** I got it all out in November. Yeah, you did. Well,

**Senator:** that's the thing I'm hoping conditioned out. I'm hoping that that was my conditioning.

I'm fully

**Gizmo:** calibrated now, baby.

**Senator:** All the Cuban bacteria. I'm, I'm ready. Um, but, uh, the, the issue for me there was the cooked seafood that we had as kind of the last course member. It was just like all this crazy seafood. Yeah. Mm-hmm. I thought that was good, but honestly, like didn't live up to the raw food that we had there.

So, I thought the cooked seafood at the other place, Maria, Maria was much better to me. Yeah. The [01:03:00] lobster there was

**Bam Bam:** fantastic.

**Pagoda:** And, and I think, uh, I think bam really enjoyed, uh, the nice little what it, the

**Gizmo:** brain that, oh yeah, the octopus brain. The brain. That was, I've never seen bam. So stressed out at a meal.

He was, it was disgusting. I

**Senator:** love bam. When I was like, oh, bam. What does that taste like? And he's like, it just exploded in my mouth.

**Bam Bam:** It, but

**Gizmo:** it, it was awful. And he was not trying to joke and he was dead ass serious. Not a joke. He was not happy. No, I was very unhappy. You were

**Bam Bam:** very unhappy. O never again. No way.

I didn't even know Octopus had braid. They're very intelligent creatures.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. So I, I, for me, Santi, I, I'd put a little bit above Maria. I mean, I, I, I thought the, the, the visual was nice. The setting was great, but I don't know, Santi just works for me for some reason. Yeah. Plus, I just love the, the fresh sushi.

You know, it just tasted so great.

**Bam Bam:** Yep. Sitting in Maria. Yeah. I could see Mrs. Bam bam with me there.

**Gizmo:** Very, very, that's a very [01:04:00] romantic date night


**Bam Bam:** of place's. A great place to take the wife or girlfriend.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Oh, no doubt. Can we talk

**Senator:** about the best meal? All

**Gizmo:** right. The best meal with the whole trip,

**Bam Bam:** Lakita Oh yeah.

**Gizmo:** So we, uh, we, so I'll set this up before we talk about food and wine, but, so, Lagar Rita's a, a very famous, uh, it's a restaurant. It's in the third floor of a very famous building. There was actually a very popular movie made there. Water. Water and Cho chocolate. Yeah. Uh, a long time ago. And it's a beautiful, you know, there's a marble staircase going up to the third floor.

It really, really elegant, amazing place. Mm-hmm. You get your steps in, you get your steps in, for sure. Mm-hmm. Uh, but. You know, you don't hate it like it was totally, no. So the setting's beautiful. The setting's

**Bam Bam:** beautiful. The building was a relic that they converted into a restaurant. So as you go up, you, you see the history and feel it.

It's fantastic.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. So we were very, very unusual, usual. We took, we took some, uh, friends of ours who were Cuban nationals, uh, to the restaurant. You know, it was, I think most of their first times, maybe one or two had been there [01:05:00] before. But it was a really, really nice treat to, to take some of the friends that we had met and celebrate, you know, our appreciation for them.

Right. And, and they're giving us their time and, and

**Bam Bam:** knowledge. What's interesting is we thought they had never been there before, but a few of them have been there two or three

**Gizmo:** times. Yeah, yeah. I think as guests of, of other, uh, maybe yeah. Tourists of other tours maybe. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, Lagar. Senator. I

**Senator:** mean, the, the thing for me, so when you just look up, like we were all doing a little bit of homework before the trip, even though we went obviously with the wealth of knowledge rooster's, favorite source being YouTube.

Um, don't get me

**Gizmo:** started,

**Senator:** uh, but just as I was

**Gizmo:** just saying, rooster, the sky is blue in Cuba. You know, I saw a YouTube video that says it's green.

**Rooster:** Look at these. I won't,

**Gizmo:** I won't comment.

**Senator:** Uh, but I, I'll

**Bam Bam:** be careful that choke is coming.

**Gizmo:** The choke is coming.

**Senator:** But just as I was googling a little bit, you just look at like best restaurants in Cuba.

Basically, every list has lagar, [01:06:00] Ritas like the best restaurant in Cuba. Now, usually when that happens in any city you're visiting, it's usually overhyped. So I went in honestly, with a healthy level of skepticism, not expecting, uh, Disney's refill, not expecting a bad experience, but just thinking that it's probably not gonna be as all you know, as it's jazzed up to be.

One, the setting that is laid out, beautiful place. You're sitting out on like this patio on the third floor. You have like a view of the city. They've got string lights up there. It looks really nice as it gets dark and it's nighttime. Um, and all the food, even just how some of it was brought out and prepared, like beautifully prepared food, like the entrees.

I have a photo of this. I mean, my god, it's uh, beef tenderloin, a filet mignon, uh, lobster tail, which was a very smart order on bams part. Yeah. He ordered this surf turf. Yeah, kind of. Yeah. And they gave you three lobster tails. So I got one of 'em, which was great. How come I didn't get one? Well, [01:07:00] you were too far away.

You were too busy with the, uh, were, you were,

**Bam Bam:** yeah. You were animated that

**Gizmo:** night. Yeah. You were filming me talking to everybody

**Senator:** and just the presentation and like some kind of puree that you can tell, like was in like a. One of those pastry things they like squeeze out. I mean, it looked like a five star restaurant presentation on the plate, which again, you're not expecting in a country that resources are so limited to be able to pull this off.

Um, so I thought all the food was outstanding. The pacio

**Bam Bam:** there was very good. Yeah. Excellent. It was very, very good. All the appetizers were, and the, the octopus we had, right? Yep. And another fish was a red snapper maybe? Yep.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Excellent. It was the only restaurant

**Rooster:** where there was white table.

**Gizmo:** Really on the tables.

That's an interesting note. I didn't catch that. That's

**Senator:** probably true. Hmm. The other thing that was nice, they, they have a sommelier there, which again, I'm not expecting, uh, in Havana. And, um, the guy was definitely very knowledgeable because he asked what types of wines I, I typically like, and I said, you know, we want something, [01:08:00] um, that's got some body to it, but not over, not like a super full cab, um, that's like a, a cab that has some structure but isn't too aggressive as like, as far as we want to go.

And I said, nothing is light as like a pinot or anything like that. And he had recommended two wines. And I said, all right, we'll start with one of the bottles. It was a Spanish Tempranillo and it was excellent. Everybody was happy with it. We drank several bottles of it. Um, I actually bought some, uh mm-hmm.

After the trip.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. So did I, I bought a case. Yeah. And

**Senator:** so Well, that's the other one. That's the other place that's, uh,

**Gizmo:** oh yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's narrow. Oh, that's right. I'm sorry. That's right. You're correct.

**Senator:** Um, and so just start to finish. I, I feel like everything was perfect. The, the service, the wait staff, everybody was so nice and accommodating.

Um, really, really defining moment in the trip. And

**Rooster:** that was the only restaurant where we all ordered, well, not all. We ordered dessert. Yeah. Yes. We didn't order dessert

**Gizmo:** anywhere else. This is true, right? Yeah. Yeah. We were, we were very happy to be there that night. It was a scrumptious meal. Yeah. Pagoda had a delicious

**Rooster:** dessert.

**Pagoda:** Yeah. No. As a, but before that I had a [01:09:00] Indian meal.

**Rooster:** Yeah, you have the lamb tea

**Pagoda:** aala. Oh. Something. But it wasn't, wasn't, it was only very close to in Indian meal. But I'll tell you, the lamb was delicious. Wow. Very well. You

**Rooster:** order steak. You ordered lamb even at, uh, carbon or Cha Chacha think No. At carbon

**Pagoda:** I had, uh, the traditional dish.

Okay. Oh, rope, right? Yeah. Rope away here, which was our,

**Gizmo:** yeah, yeah, yeah.

**Pagoda:** But I did order lamb

**Gizmo:** somewhere else. Right. The stakes at Margarita were shocking. Oh. ERO at ero. The stakes at La Guita were shockingly good. They were so, uh, on the table. We had a massive ribeye, I don't even know why they called it a ribeye.

I mean, it, it could have fed six people and they brought it out with a real hot plate. So I guess they cooked it rare if you wanted it medium rare. And then they brought out a, a hot stone plate that you kind of cooked the rest of temperature that you wanted. Delicious, really well cooked and, and the tenderloin like Senator said, I mean, I know that you think I'm crazy when I say this.

I'd put it up against almost any steak I've ever gotten in New York or New [01:10:00] Jersey. It was perfect. It was delicious. It was a 10 ounce filet. It was perfect. I

**Pagoda:** think the quality of the meat was excellent

**Gizmo:** though. Yeah, it, I agree. Was it was really good. They're clearly importing that from somewhere.

**Senator:** My, my only problem was bam, bam.

Stole my steak. I think I got his dish. Oh, that's right. You guys, bam. Ordered medium. I only eat a steak media rare. And I look at him, cut his, I'm like, well, that's a perfectly cut steak. I cut it to buy. I'm like, this is medium back. It was perfectly

**Bam Bam:** bloody. Now I will say when I travel, I'm a little leery going medium, so I do go a little bit, uh, you know, a warmer steak.

**Gizmo:** That was great. Are you, you, are you converted or are

**Senator:** you gonna order medium now?

**Bam Bam:** That's the way to order. So I usually order a medium rare. Okay. But when I travel, it's gotta be medium. Yeah. I'm, I'm just a little leery

**Gizmo:** about that. Yeah. Yeah. Log go Rita, with That was an amazing night off the charts. That was a very memorable, the weather was

**Bam Bam:** perfect.

Yeah. The cigars were smoking. Great. I had a Lucy that night. It was off the charts. Oh yeah. We both did. Oh.

**Gizmo:** Great night. So

**Rooster:** to me, I mean, the restaurants were [01:11:00] totally beyond what I expected them to be at. Uh mm-hmm. In Cuba. I know beyond,

**Pagoda:** I know. They were all, they were all nine and 10, in fact, all tens close to, yeah.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. The only disappointing meal that we had was the entree at Elco Cero. Yeah. Yeah. Well, year two, right? Yeah. So we have Rooster two, three. Yeah. Okay. But

**Rooster:** the setting, that's a beautiful restaurant. Beautiful. One of the

**Gizmo:** nicest, that place could be Miami. Nicest. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, it

**Senator:** totally could. All the, the greenery there and this loungey vibe that it had literally could be in Miami,

**Gizmo:** and it's actually

**Rooster:** owned by the daughter of, uh, Raul

**Gizmo:** Castro.

Yeah. Yeah. Which is why we got such a good. On the c u p conversion there because it's, I guess it's owned by someone in the family, so they haven't adjusted like the privately owned restaurants have, thank goodness. Yeah. Uh, but I, I thought the appetizers were very good there. It's just, uh, uh, Senator and my, uh, I guess in yours, ro our entree, the lobster was way overcooked.

Yeah. The lobster was overcooked and the rice had the

**Senator:** tea, like bar soap, lavender bar soap, [01:12:00]

**Gizmo:** uhoh. Literally it was the last night of the trip. I wish we didn't save that one for the last night. I hope we go back

**Bam Bam:** there again and you order something else. I think we certainly will, because I do love that spot.

Yeah, it is a good spot. Greg. Senator can stay home that night. I'll be at

**Senator:** la I'll be at La Guita.

**Bam Bam:** We'll all meet up at cha cha cha for a drink.

**Gizmo:** So the other thing I wanna talk about as we're talking about food, culture, music, everything else was the Tropicana Show. Oh, yeah. Phenomenal. So for, it's a must.

Yeah. For folks who don't know, the Tropicana is, I, what was it, 1937? I think 27, 27. 1927. It's been going on. It's a very famous variety show, uh, put on by, you know, Cuban nationals. And, um, it's everything from Dan choreographed dance to ballet, to opera, to singing, to pop music, to, uh, everything you can imagine.

Magic. Magic. Yeah. I mean, it's a, an incredible variety

**Bam Bam:** show. [01:13:00] What's, what's amazing is it seems like they put on a different show every night.

**Gizmo:** It's constantly iterating. It's un it's unreal. And you would think for something that's been around that long, you look at like the Rockettes, like, I don't think there's much changing.

Maybe they changed some of the music, but this is constantly iterating to the point where the show we saw in November, oh, it was totally different, was totally different than the show we saw in February. I like the February better. Me too. Yeah. It was really, Dynamic. I also just couldn't

**Senator:** believe like, just the production quality of the whole thing.

Like these costumes they're wearing are like super elaborate and well done. The lighting, the stage, the setup, I mean, way, way better than I would've ever. The

**Gizmo:** olives. Yeah. So we got an, we're our ticket, so we got really good tickets, which was nice. And we sat right close to the, like right on the stage the, and with those tickets.

Front row. Front row. Yeah. With the, with those tickets you get an, what they call an appetizer and they literally bring out the little dish with three olives. I [01:14:00] regret

**Bam Bam:** being


**Gizmo:** my phone for that moment. Oh yeah. There was a, yeah, one of the performers was right in BA's face trying to get his attention.

Like serenading you, I blame you for that.

**Bam Bam:** Oh, you're the, you know, you're the man. You gotta let us all know what's going on around us. Oh, it's my fault.

**Senator:** You're his eyes and ears.

**Bam Bam:** I

**Gizmo:** did say that, that is true. But yeah, I a anyone who goes to Cuba, Has to go see the Tropicana Show. I think that is an absolute requirement.


**Senator:** honestly, like if you, if you go to Cuban, don't see that show, you've completely missed the mark. Yeah. Completely missed the mark. It's one of the best shows I think all of us collectively said we've ever seen. Yeah. Concerts,

**Gizmo:** Broadways musicals, magic, anything I've ever seen. It wipes the floor with any of them.


**Senator:** the best part is the show itself is spectacular. If I had to sit there and watch the show and I couldn't drink or have a cigar, it would still be spectacular. The fact that you're sitting there watching this fantastic show with a cigar and they put a bottle of rum [01:15:00] on your table. Yeah, I'm, it just, the experience was perfect.

I, I wish I could go to a Broadway show and light up a, I mean, it's like

**Gizmo:** unbelievable.

**Rooster:** Yeah. And the level of professionalism, you know, among. The

**Gizmo:** artists, the performers. Performers. That's incredible.

**Bam Bam:** It's unbelievable. The vocals are just incredibly off the charts. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Powerful singing and all the music is live.

There's a full, I don't know, 20, 30 piece band, not

**Bam Bam:** one Miscue. I mean,

**Senator:** they are not one misq Perfect. I also love even, you know, depending on where you sit, obviously we were super lucky to be right, like in the first row, but kind of wherever you're sitting, they, they come into the crowd too, like the dancers during the performances.

And so, you know, even if you don't have the best seats, like there's this connection and interaction with the, the fans and kind of the, the patrons that are sitting there. And then it's funny, at the very end, they do this whole thing where, um, people who are there to see the show can actually come onto the stage and dance and they honor people.

Birthdays. Birthdays. And it, it's a, it's a funny

**Gizmo:** scene. Yeah. Oh [01:16:00] yeah. And they, you know, to your point, they have, you know, to allow, to expand on what you're saying, they have like little side stages around the audience. So if you're in the back row, For several numbers during the show, there's gonna be someone within three feet of you.

Yeah. That's singing the main vocal of the performance. I mean, it's really a magical thing. They're, they're doing like jumps off of rafters and they must work incredible production. Tremendously hard in rehearsals. They must, and and the biggest takeaway from me putting everything else we just set aside is every single one of those performers genuinely seems like, not only that they're happy to be there, but they love their coworkers, they love the other performers that they're dancing with.

It's not put on, like, I really think they're genuinely enjoying their time there. Mm-hmm.

**Bam Bam:** They travel the

**Gizmo:** world. Is that right? I've heard that, but I've, I'm not sure

**Bam Bam:** if that's the case. Then I can see them being enthusiastic because they get to go places. Yeah. Among other things, right? Yeah. They must get perks something.

I'm sure they do. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** they must. But yeah, they were [01:17:00] all magnificent. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. So, yeah, the Tropicana Show Boys. Yeah. So I wish, uh, the Museum of the Revolution, which is obviously, you know, a little bit of a controversial thing, is closed through the end of this year. Um, we, I, I had heard it was open, but it's not, but I, I did want to go walk through that, you know, to see what it was like.

But that's two trips now. We didn't get to see that. But, um, were there any other highlight spots that, uh, any other cultural spots, restaurants that we didn't go over that we should share with the listeners? I'm trying to think. I think we kind of hit them

**Senator:** all. I mean, we, we didn't drink there, but we stopped at, uh, Floridita.

Oh, the Floridita? Yeah, that's right. Hemingway. Dary Bar. Yeah. No beer. Yeah, water. They're not water. When they say a Dery bar. Yeah. You're either drinking a Dery or get out. That's it.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. I was surprised they didn't have beer or water there. They only had daiquiris. Yeah. But I love that. Seeing the Statue of Hemingway.

I think that's so cool there. Sure. See with his elbow on the bar. Yeah, sure. The history. Yeah. There was a

**Rooster:** restaurant back there too.

**Gizmo:** There was a, there was a back [01:18:00] room there. I've

**Bam Bam:** never eaten there. No, there is a, a back room there. Not sure if it's, if they serve food. I don't think so.

**Pagoda:** And there was a museum by, uh, what of Casaro?


**Gizmo:** the art museum. Yeah, the art museum. Yeah. It was closed when we were over there, but they had the lights on real bright, big glass windows you could see. And it's all, I guess it's art by Cuban nationals that either you can view or purchase or both, I don't know, but we missed fabric, the art this time.

Yeah. Fabric di art. Yeah. We didn't get to go to fabric day art. That is a must. You guys went. Yes, we went in November. Yeah. We talked

**Bam Bam:** about that in one of our recordings. That is

**Gizmo:** a must for anyone going to Cuba. Yeah. So for anybody who didn't hear that episode, uh, how would you describe it? It's a massive complex, it's

**Bam Bam:** very eclectic.

It's four or five stories, but the levels are, you know, they're staggered between three and four steps, so they're kind of interchanging and they're bars tucked away in corners in their, you know, interstitial among the artwork. It's very. Very, very cool. So it's

**Gizmo:** like a club kind of museum, like

**Bam Bam:** an art? Yeah, there's music, there's video, there's art, there's um, several bars so [01:19:00] you can get a drink and walk around.

It's a lot of fun. Is

**Gizmo:** it all

**Bam Bam:** enclosed or is it like it It's enclosed. Yeah. There's some rooftop terraces there too. Yeah, it's

**Gizmo:** very nice. And that's where a lot of, uh, Cuban nationals, that's where they spend their Friday, Saturday nights. Sure. Like the kind of the singles. It's very affordable. Yeah, they it's very affordable.

It's a dance club, so that's kind of where they go. Yeah, it's a got loose after work on a Friday, Saturday. Very unique. Yeah. All right boys, we're coming to the end here of the oil. Elias Senator finished his about an hour ago. I think everyone's struck. Put it down except for Rooster and yeah, I just put mine down.

Um, So I guess before we do that, we'll talk about that in a second. Let's get to the rum. Let's do a, any final thoughts on the, uh, seven year Havana Club. And we'll do a rating cuz I'm, I'm, I'm ready to rate thoroughly happy with Oh, sure. This rum. Sure. I mean, we certainly had a lot of it. Now having it again is kind of taking me back to that rooftop.

Mm-hmm. Right. And, uh, good times we had all week. Oh yeah. All right, boys, you ready to do the, uh, formal liquor rating? Mm-hmm. All right. Bam. Bam. You're up. I'm going with a 10

**Bam Bam:** on this guy. Ooh, wow. 10, [01:20:00] $20 for a bottle, no ice. All the beautiful notes like caramel and vanilla, and it's delicious. It drinks smooth.

It's, it's for, for what you're getting for the price. It's unbeatable. All right.

**Gizmo:** I give it a 10. Pagoda, uh,

**Pagoda:** you know, I've been debating between eight or a nine. You know, I, I'll give it a nine. I, I think I, look, I'm not a rum drinker per se, but this is one of the few rums that I, I think I've sat and drank a lot are.

At least in Cuba. And, um, I really enjoying it of now. It's fantastic. Like I could keep drinking this. So, yeah.

**Rooster:** Tonight is it, is it better than Old Monk?

**Pagoda:** I don't even remember

**Gizmo:** how that is.

**Rooster:** Old Monk is an Indian rum, which is very common with the

**Bam Bam:** s This old monk put hair on your palms. You could drink it.

**Pagoda:** I think maybe, and, and maybe that's why I

**Rooster:** don't have rom.

Indians are

**Gizmo:** hairy to begin with. So, Senator,

**Senator:** well, with that imaging,

**Gizmo:** give it a four.

**Senator:** This [01:21:00] one is, uh, surprisingly easy. It's a 10. All right, my man. And the, the biggest factor. It's so enjoyable there. There's no, there's not one offensive, no, there's not one problem with it. But what really puts it over the edge, like when I say this is the most complex run I've ever had.

No, but what gets it to a 10? Cuz I started at a nine. There is truly no spirit that is $20 a bottle that I consume that exactly right. And enjoy. Not one. I, I mean, honest, I would challenge any of us to think of a spirit. We pay 20 bucks a bottle and we actually enjoy. Yeah. I don't this the best value that probably exists, period.

In spirits.

**Gizmo:** I totally agree. And I was surprised. You know, you, you guys were giving me a little bit of shit, pushing the Santiago 11 and 12 when we had gotten to the island and then we tried this seven and we stuck with this real quick and it, it was delivering at a half and maybe even a third of the price of the 12, the third.

So Yeah, for, so for 20 bucks, I am totally in agreement. It's a [01:22:00] 10 all day, my man. For sure. Um, okay, so let's do the, uh, composite lizard score here. It's a 9.8.

**Bam Bam:** Excellent. It's awesome. Excellent. It's well deserved. Well

**Gizmo:** deserved for the Havana Club. Seven year. Yeah. And now boys, oh, oh, let me get the calculator out for this one.

Let's do the, uh, formal lizard rating on the oil demo. Monterey Ganti. L C D H. Rooster, you're up.

**Rooster:** So we've never given a zero,

**Gizmo:** right?

**Pagoda:** What do you think is low than a cva?

**Gizmo:** I forgot what I gave the cva. It wasn't good. No, I know. This is,

**Rooster:** I don't know. I don't know what, I don't know what to,

**Pagoda:** for a 35 bucks steak.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Five. Yep. Yeah, it's horrible. I'm also at a five, that's where I've been for sure. I was at a six or seven, and then the last third was just horrendous for me.

Smoked fine. Like it burned fine, but [01:23:00] the taste was. Really not great. It's definitely, I would smoke it over the calavera any day, so I'm absolutely also at a five. It's surprising you called that too. I definitely a five for me. Yeah. It's odd

**Rooster:** that it's got an L C D H, so I expect a certain amount of, uh,

**Gizmo:** you know, like experience.

Yeah, yeah. Some delivery on a cigar, but this is, yeah, it's, it's bad. Yeah. Not great. All right, here we go. Senator.

**Senator:** This is hard. This will be the first cigar that I have to review without actually smoking much, much of it at all. Um,

**Gizmo:** you're finished mine. I'm gonna be,

**Senator:** I'm, I'm gonna be slightly chaired, but I'm gonna give it a four.

Okay. Ooh. And here are the reasons, um, the things that ding it. I mean, what's honestly really sad about this cigar before you even smoke it. I don't think this is a nice looking cigar. It's not. As soon as GIZ brought them around, I'm sorry, they just, They're very rustic, but not in a good way. Not like a RAs that's like purp a RAs looks [01:24:00] purposefully rustic like it was intended to be.

This looks like they tried to make this really nice and have tight visible seams and it's just not come together. Um, so the construction I don't think is great. The draw almost everybody, if not everybody had a tight draw. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** we were all suffering. I was okay with mine. Yeah. Except yours. Yeah, it was

**Senator:** fine.

So four outta five had a tight draw and that, that's a problem. Um, flavor-wise, the reason I was charitable with a four, the cold draw, I actually liked. I was getting milked chocolate. I said, okay, maybe this is promising. So the cold draw was good. Um, but then obviously there, this is a dud in some way because I opened the draw as much as you humanly can and it draw, it drew perfectly, but no, no combustion, no smoke output, no nothing.

Um, and uh, the little flavor I was getting was very muted and nothing interesting, uh, present. So I'd give this a four.

**Gizmo:** Okay. Pagoda. It's a

**Pagoda:** four for me. I agree with you, Senator. Like from the very beginning, I think I smelled the milk chocolate as well. I [01:25:00] was expecting a slightly different experience getting onto it.

Um, and then, you know, I think I experienced something very unpleasant, uh, uh, you know, around an inch and a half into it. And then it really did not, uh, just do it for me, meaning at the end of the day. But it, you know, it smoked, so I continued smoking it. It's like one of those. Uh, but yeah, I'm glad it's over.

**Bam Bam:** Mm-hmm. Bam. Bam. I can't go as low as a four. I think five is a pretty fair score. You know, my cigar, the draw was great. Great. I thought the combustion was pretty good on my cigar because I had the draw. Me too. You know, the flavor wasn't awful. It wasn't off putting. I'm gonna go six.

**Gizmo:** So the Composite Lizard Score Boys on the Oyo de Monterey elegant l cd h is a 4.6.


**Bam Bam:** beats the La Punta. I

**Gizmo:** don't, I don't think it beats the La Punto,

**Pagoda:** but you know, considering the price point, this might be the lowest. It's the lowest. There's no doubt

**Gizmo:** lower than cadavers. Uh, no Cadavers was like a 3.3. [01:26:00] Yeah, this is definitely on the lower end. Oh, I didn't know that. This will be in the 2023 recap We do early next year.

This will definitely make an appearance. I think so. Henry's still the

**Rooster:** champion.

**Gizmo:** We love you, Henry. That's terrible. That's terrible. Well, gentlemen, so that was, uh, part one of our Cuba recap. We're gonna keep this rolling over the next, you know, maybe three or four Cuban episodes. So, uh, in two weeks from now, this will continue with part two. We have a lot to talk about. Our visit to, uh, El Gito la Corona.

We have a lot of stuff to share with you. Um, so we'll keep that up. But tonight, boys, an excellent rum. A 9.8 for the Havana Club's seven year. And a 4.6, unfortunately, for the Hoyo de Monterey Alleg, elegants, L C D H a huge disappointment, especially for a cigar that's over 30 bucks. I mean, if this was a $5 cigar, I think it would've been incredibly disappointing too.

Sure. But, you know, uh, un unfortunately, it, it just did not perform well. So. All [01:27:00] right. Great night boys. Glad to be back from Cuba. Good to be back with. And, uh, we'll see everybody next week. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for joining us. You could find our merch store and ratings archive at our brand new website, lounge lizards pod.com.

That's lounge lizards, p o d.com. Don't forget to leave us a rating and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. If you have any comments, questions, if you wanna reach out, say hello, tell us what you're smoking, email us hello@loungelizardspod.com. You can also find us on Instagram at Lounge Lizards Pod.

We really appreciate your time and we'll, uh, we'll see you next week.