Havana Sensation: A Cigar Lover’s Paradise in Metrowest

Havana Sensation logo

Here it is, another weekend and I can’t think of a better place to spend it than Havana Sensation in Metrowest Orlando.  A friendly, well stocked and inviting smoke shop/lounge, Havana Sensation has brought to Metrowest a flavor of Cuban food, music and passion for cigars that has livened up the area.

Owner Edson Santoro, opened the cigar shop just over a year ago and has been welcoming all who enter his establishment with a smile and an uncanny knowledge of cigars ever since.

Shelves stocked with Gurkha, Hupmann, LFD, Oliva, Rocky Patel, Padron, Ashton, La Aurora, Don Pepin, La Gloria Cubana  and many more popular and boutique cigars, line the mustard colored walls while traditional cigar art is peppered throughout.  The seating is plenty and comfortable with leather couches and chairs and wooden tables and chairs arranged throughout to easily accamodate the single smoker looking to read in a corner or groups of people engaged in a tense game of dominos.

Havana Sensation Back bar  In the back is an area with a bar and coolers stocked with an incredible selection of beer including, Bud Lime, Corona, Cigar City Maduro, Sam Adams IPA, Orlando Brewing Brown Ale, Blonde Ale, Shipyard, Shipyard Blue Fin Stout, Presidente, and Red Stripe Lager.

The shop offers excellent customer service with people like Richard on hand to answer questions about cigar flavors, what is new or to make recommendations.  On a personal level, Richard has never steered me wrong and has turned me onto the likes of La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, Rocky Patel, the Decade, Oliva O and G, Gurkha and countless other cigars with deep dark espresso and nutty flavors.

There are three flat screen televisions to watch sports or movies on and at one point they were offering a movie of the week night.  Music is piped throughout the shop, more as background so as not to deter from conversation and depending upon who is working can range from Cuban salsa to classical to jazz.  Music is also piped out to the patio area in front of the shop where several tables are available for seating.

Though not a restaurant, I have been pleasantly surprised by the frequency and caliber of the food Havana Sensation serves during special events.  I just missed an impromptu barbecue to welcome spring which featured barbecue and jerk style chicken, vegetable medley, pork and chicken sausage, steak kabobs and vine ripened tomatoes that I heard were sweet and delicious.  Anthony “Street” was the chef on hand who created the wonderful guava barbecue sauce and I hope not to miss the next one!  I did make it for a Saturday celebration back in November and stuffed myself with roast pork, rice and plantains.  Ed and his family were  there to prepare and serve the authentic Cuban cuisine and from the smiles on everyone’s faces, it was a hit!

Havana Sensation has recently begun doing Havana Sensation Wooden Indian beer and cigar pairings on select Thursday evenings and has already featured Presidente beer with La Aurora cigars and Sam Adams paired with Montecristo Platinum. Check out their website at: www.Havanasensation.com   join them on Facebook or follow their blog at www.havanasensation.blogspot.com for the latest information.

Whether an aficionado or a beginner, Havana Sensation is a great place to stop in and enjoy a smoke in a very casual and friendly atmosphere!

Gran Habano’s World’s Largest Cigar at Corona Cigar Company

A few weeks ago I took a drive to Corona Cigar Company on W. Sand Lake Road in Orlando.  There I met up with a few people from the Cigar Aficionados of Central Florida to see the spectre of the World’s Largest Cigar!  The 18.9 foot monster labeled “Gran Habano Corojo #5 El Gigante,” is the masterpiece of Gran Habano Cigars which was founded and run by the Rico family.


Don Guillermo Rico, a third generation tobacco maker grew up in Columbia, watching his grandfather and father grow and harvest tobacco and roll cigars in their homes. But it wasn’t until 1995 when he came to the United States, that he saw the potential for his own brand of cigars in the cigar boom of the 1990’s.  In 1998, he started his own company, purchasing a factory in Honduras and eventually four farms scattered across Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Columbia. In 2003 he introduced the Gran Habano line of cigars which has grown to include 5 types of cigars, the Connecticut #1,  Habano #3,  Corojo #5, 3 Siglos and Cabinet Selection.  Recently Don Guillermo with his son, George have worked together in the creation of the Azteca line of cigars, a complex, rich smoke that comes in a variety of sizes.  George also has developed his own line of cigars, the G.A.R. which I would characterize as a medium to full bodied smoke, not for the beginner.


It was at this event at Corona Cigar that I had the pleasure of meeting George Rico.  Having only started smoking cigars four months previously, I had picked up a copy of the cigar magazine, Cigar Press to learn more about the different brands available and their characteristics and as it turned out, that particular issue had featured an in depth article on George Rico. George talked about his philosophy of cigars and the different tobacco flavors, his line of cigars the G.A.R and also about Gran Habano. I had been fascinated and knew I wanted to try this guy’s smokes.  So here I was, meeting George Rico and listening as he explained the various tastes in the different cigars to a couple of other people.  They made their selection and disappeared, leaving me with a very polite George Rico. I told him the types of cigars I had tried thus far and liked and he directed me immediately to the 3 Siglos. Afterward he also recommended the Azteca.  At this point I confided in him that I had read the story in Cigar Press and particularly enjoyed his sentiments that the strength of a cigar doesn’t determine the quality. I told him that I felt cigars were very much like wine and he agreed saying that if he started his morning with a cabernet sauvignon his palate would be overwhelmed and would not be able to appreciate something lighter like a pinot noir with lunch.  We talked for a bit longer and I thanked him for his help.  He then told me that he only had a few, but he pulled from his shirt pocket a lancero which is his personal blend, one they do not sell. He offered it to me and I thanked him for his generosity and shook his hand.  I then went to the cafe area, ordered an iced tea and re-joined the group of Aficionados, lighting up the 3 Siglos.  It was a great smoke in the company of some nice people and I couldn’t help but think that this experience would have a lasting impact.  Thank you to Corona Cigar Company and to George Rico and Gran Habano for a great day and some terrific cigars!

For more cigar events contact:www.coronacigar.com  

For a complete list of Gran Habano cigars and their history, contact: www.ghcigars.com