By ALAN FEUER
AN afición for cigars — “penchant” lacks the necessary passion, while “fondness” is at least three shades too tame — is a difficult itch to scratch in Bloombergian New York, which, aside from its high property taxes and low trans fats, is almost entirely smoke-free. There aren’t many Cubans to be found, even at the high-end joints in Midtown, which leaves the connoisseur with the alternative of second-fiddle Dominicans. If you are going to buy such things, you might as well go to the source.
Rosa and Rafael Portes, the married owners of the Q Cigar by Portes shop, at Broadway and 214th Street, own 75 acres in Tamboril, Santiago, a tobacco-growing district of the Dominican Republic. There, they plant, cut, dry and age their own tobacco leaves, which are then exported — much as they were decades ago — to the Inwood section of Manhattan. Here, the leaves are rolled by hand into the Jacos, Don Luises and Torpedo Corojos they have been selling in the neighborhood for nearly 20 years.
“There’s a public for each of them,” Ms. Portes, a small Spanish-speaking woman, said through an interpreter the other day. Jacos ($12 each) are muscular and spicy. Torpedos ($7) are for casual weekend smokers. For those with a more debauched palate, there are cognac-soaked cigars ($20). Women, it is said, will often tend toward the “flavoreds” ($4), cherry, vanilla, rum or amaretto.
The Porteses employ a full-time professional cigar roller, José Germosen, an alumnus of the Leon Jimenes Cigar Company, one of the oldest and most popular Dominican brands. Mr. Germosen, who plies his trade from his portable stool and bench in the corner of the shop, splits his time among the three Portes locations: one that caters to the Wall Street crowd on Church Street in the financial district, one in Newark and the flagship business here in Inwood.