September 27, 2023 1:47 pm

On My Way

“Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away
If you can use some exotic booze
There’s a bar in far Bombay
Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away…”

~ Frank Sinatra


“Cousin Frank” Minutillo and “Retired Bob” Pecorini, of The Great Lakes Smoke Show (GLSS), are obviously enjoying their time living in Florida. They record their cigar, tobacco, and spirits focused live podcasts right from Frank’s lanai, where they also do short funny pre-show videos on Instagram @greatlakessmokeshow. 

On March 22nd, I joined in on the pre-show Instagram message board. “Retired Bob” immediately requested that I “bring a bottle on down here, come on down here man!”. “Cousin Frank” echoed Bob’s request with an open invite: “we’re waiting for you to appear here in Florida, you always have a place to stay, mi casa es su casa, you know that’s the way it works here, so remember you’ve always got a place to hang your hat!”

Considering Frank’s famous but professional “we’re not messin’ around here” attitude, and my quick humorous response, “I’m on my way”, I decided it was time to surprise and meet the GLSS Florida crew. On the morning of Tuesday April 19th, I packed my lucky backpack, jumped on a plane at Chicago O’Hare Airport, landed in Orlando, and immediately headed to Total Wines & More on Colonial Drive.  After sampling crazy whiskeys with their awesome Spirits Consultant, Dominic Gasbarro, I was off to Frank’s place, in an Uber, with whiskey bottles and cigars in tow.

After “James Bonding” my way into Frank’s gated community, I finally arrived on a very surprising “happy afternoon”. A very elated Frank was “blown away”. We were quickly off to meet an unsuspecting Bob Pecorini for dinner at the Lighthouse Seafood Market & Cafe. A very dazed and confused “Retired Bob” was shocked when he figured out who “the new guy” server, wearing a Great Lakes Smoke Show logo hat, really was. Absolutely hilarious!

Back at Frank’s lanai, we cracked open my new bottle of Mcfarlane’s Reserve 12 Year bourbon, which is finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. This expression is absolutely delicious, and paired well, on level, with my Camacho Connecticut cigars. The three of us “chooches” had a blast over great bourbon, cigars, and conversation, before nearly missing the evening’s regularly scheduled Great Lakes Smoke Show.

Then came the big podcast surprise, for Chicago based GLSS Co-hosts Ronnie Pecorini, Kyle Jesso, and the entire GLSS live audience. I magically appeared on the Florida screen, sitting in between Frank and Bob, in the middle of the podcast. The podcast ironically yet appropriately featured special guest Kevin Gold, life-long magic enthusiast and now owner of Rock-A-Fellar Cigars. Kevin’s white label Habano Cigar, which features an Ecuadorian Habano leaf, really ramped up the caramel and sweet wine flavors of the Mcfarlane’s Reserve bourbon, until there was none left.

The next day, I joined “Cousin Frank” and “Retired Bob” for a special event podcast at the Corona Cigar Company & Montecristo Lounge in Lake Mary, a cigar lover’s “Mecca”! This amazing cigar lounge features rows and rows of endless cigar options, a full bar with amazing whiskey options, and an incredibly knowledgeable staff. I highly recommend that all cigar and whiskey lovers make the pilgrimage. The Florida crowd and energetic vibe at this place is incredible, and you can’t beat the weather!

During this “win-win” Great Lakes Smoke Show and Whiskey Network podcast, Frank and Bob interviewed Michael Herklots, owner of Ferio Tego Cigars. Michael was there presenting his cigar line and pairing his “Elegancia” cigar with a flight of Dalmore Single Malt expressions. 

Unexpectedly, Frank let me take the reins for an interview with Ben Boice, a Single Malt Whisky Specialist and Brand Ambassador for Dalmore and Jura. Ben was there presenting a flight of four Dalmore expressions (12 Year Sherry, Portwood, Cigar Malt, and 18 Year) for the incredible pairing event. He is extremely knowledgeable in the history and craft of scotch whisky, as he shared an incredible amount of information with us on the podcast. See this amazing Whiskey Network interview and hilarious GLSS podcast beginning here:

After the podcast, we continued to imbibe and celebrate our time together. We also engaged in more awesome off-air conversations with Ferio Tego’s Michael Herklots and Dalmore’s Ben Boice. Before I knew it, I was back in Chicago on Thursday morning, recovering over coffee and a beautifully crafted “Army of Angel’s” Florida Sun Grown Corona Cigar. The cigar was graciously gifted to me by Corona’s awesome General Manager, Angel Benitez, whom the cigar is dedicated to.

Thank you Frank Minutillo, Bob Pecorini, and the awesome staff at the Lake Mary Corona Company & Montecristo Cigar Lounge for all your hospitality. Thank you Michael Herklots and Ben Boice for your time and an amazing pairing experience. We’ll do it again sometime.

My next quarterly “Whiskey Week” Great Lakes Smoke Show appearance will be on Tuesday July 12th, featuring Knob Creek Bourbon lover and cigar aficionado, Brad Reith of Zeal Cigars. The Great Lakes Smoke Show live podcast airs every Tuesday at 7:30PM Central on Facebook Live, Youtube, and Twitch.

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"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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