Best place to buy a fine cigar in Auckland

We had a birthday in the family last week and as is our tradition, we decided to hunt out some nice cigars.

I’ve taken quite a liking to cigars, call me a novice enthusiast. I’ve found that smoking the odd cigar is the perfect rebellion against a harsh Pentecostal upbringing – it’s naughty enough to get a reaction from your mother, but you’ve still got the “at least I’m not smoking cigarettes” defence.

I’m told this argument is typically male.

Anyway, the thing I’ve found about cigars is that if you ain’t spending some decent coin, you might as well light up a rod of aged dowel and have a suck on that.

A fine Cuban

I found these decent cigars at Dominion Road’s Hollywood Dairy while we were living around the corner. They’re well-priced with a vanilla-soaked wood filter at the end, which makes them tolerable to the lady-folk who want to join in. Somehow though, I’ve always felt like I was compromising on candy cigars.

So, back to Hollywood. I went in there last week for the usual fare, and on this fateful night I was greeted by Mohammed, who stopped me at the humidor and indicated for me to follow him behind the fluorescent strips of the Staff Only doorway. I followed him into his backroom, where he revealed his private humidor – home of The Good Stuff; proper Cubans and all that; from the thick Churchill style to the delicious Guantanamera Habana I picked up, for no other reason than it came with it’s own plastic capsule (novice enthusiast, I did warn you.)

Before I left, he gave me a peek at his holy grail – the top shelf of the bottom drawer; kept in a safe below the humidor; the kind of Cubans reserved for politicians, despots and dictators.

Mohammed says his hidden stash is the best range you’ll find round these parts, for the best price.

So, if you have a special occasion, head to Hollywood Dairy on Dominion. Ask for Mohammed, tell him I sent you. He’ll show you the gold.

Hollywood Dairy 638 Dominion Road

– Luke Oram, Guest blogger

Quirky books on Dominion Road

It seems like an age since Don McGlashan immortalized Dominion Road as a ragged landmark in our city’s history. Travel down it now and it’s the same true mish-mash of old and new Auckland; the fast-food joints and haberdasheries rubbing shoulders with the old brick of Methodist churches and the leftovers of the Worota Buildings.

One of my favourite places on Dominion Road is Brazier’s Books and Art. I have a huge penchant for second-hand bookstores, largely satisfied by Hard To Find Books in Onehunga, but Brazier’s had always fascinated me. It’s got that bookstore look about it; from the weathered first-editions scattered across the store-front window, to the faded sandwich board on the curb. It’s almost mythical that way.

The other day, I found myself with time to spare and headed in. As luck would have it, I picked the right day, stumbling across a line of old New Zealand periodicals to greet rock and roll royalty Graham Brazier leaning against a glass case, huffing away on a Pall Mall and strumming a beat-up guitar. Which is about as mythical as you can get.

Graham’s a huge book lover. We had a good yarn about it actually. He showed me his collections of first editions, which are coveted the world over. Early George Orwell magazines, volumes of Middle American out-of-print editions in spades.

He’s a genteel old host, Graham, which is lucky, cos the place is set up like a lost uncle’s attic; boxes of books strewn across every available plank of hardwood floor. In a very endearing rock ‘n roll way of course.

Check it out soon.

In fact, I’ll give you a week before I head back in there and grab the mint condition Hendrix vinyl I found lying in a crate by the Almanacs.

Brazier’s Books & Art, 714 Dominion Road

– Luke Oram, Guest blogger