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Old 08-15-2008, 11:32 PM   #1
The Modern Gentleman
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Default First Class

Alas, no cigars in this tale, though the spirit of serendipity and spontaneous adventure is there. If you've ever set out with three cigars and come home with two phone numbers...read on. Got an adventure in the friendly skies? Post it.

First Class Flight 87 - Heathrow to O'Hare

I flew to London for a gin masterclass hosted by Tanqueray No. 10 and featuring ten master mixologists from the likes of The Dorchester in London, Death & Co. in NYC, and Milan's Tearose Cafe'. Even got to clink martinis with cocktail guru Salvatore Calabrese at his Bar Fifty, talk Crème de Violette with the cats at Milk & Honey, and hoist the juniper juice whilst hovering over the Thames in the London Eye. I flew in Monday morning and jetted back early Wednesday. All in all, forty or so resplendent hours and spotty doses of sleep between trips to Nobu and Bungalow 8.

On the way home, I was bumped up to that last bastion of elegant travel...transatlantic first class. I was wearing a smoking jacket, giddy with sleeplessness/gin glee, and the flight attendants took to me straight away. When I started peeking toward the cockpit, the captain offered to give me a tour and talk shop about the current plight of the airlines. I was in VIP heaven and by the time we took off, my oversized seat/bed/area was a buffet of comforts: Bose noise-canceling headset, plush slippers, antipasti, and the wine list.

"Instead of settling into one selection, can I sample them all?" I asked. The Boeing 777 and I both reached cruising altitude with gradual ease and I felt somewhat guilty, I confess, as the first of several meals and mid-flight snacks were served. "I've got an idea," I told Marc and Kaniniu, my dashing uniformed hosts on this American Airlines extravaganza. "Since there are some empty seats up here, I'd like to invite a random man and woman from coach to join me for a wine tasting." They looked at one another, slightly nonplussed. "It's a flight," I added, "a flight!" this time emphasizing the airborne perfection of my pun.

Within minutes, a nearby first class table had been set with seven wines:
Pommery Brut Champagne NV
William Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay 2003
Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Chateau Lynch-Moussas 2003
The Colonial Estate "Explorateur" Shiraz 2005
Emilio Lustau Sherry
Graham's 20 Years Old Tawny Port

They brought forth the aptly named Molly Brown, a University of Evansville art student whose smile and natural beauty--even halfway into a seven-hour flight--were indeed unsinkable. She didn't know much about wine, but her palate was keen (if candied). Molly described the Pommery's bubbles as "little explosions like Pop Rocks," and thought the Spy Valley tasted of "Starburst and SweetTarts." The Shiraz tasted "like I've gone camping...wood in a fire pit; or an old desk, one for writing letters." Of the Bordeaux, she said it "has a sweater smell, like a place where you'd have good memories--my mom's room...she passed away two years ago."

Then it was Julien Dupric's turn. This gent from Paris grew up avec vin and spoke with the confident vocabulary of a sommelier. "Clean, discrete, elegant," he said of the Spy Valley, "like Chablis. Long and earthy with lots of moss." He wore a Japanese training suit jacket that "always makes Asian tourists laugh," he said, "because the Japanese characters say: 'Don't let your kids read dirty books.'" Julien looked like a younger Vince Vaughn with a mature babyface, and whereas Molly tied the wines to a memory or experience, the Frenchman related his sensations to food. "This one," he said of the Sherry, "smells tobacco sweet, but the nose is not overwhelming. Goat cheese would be nice...something from the Basque region. You may be completely wrong, but you learn to talk about wine openly at an early age."

After the two tastings, Marc and Kaniniu snapped photos for us and refreshed our palates with sparkling water. We'd taken over the first class cabin and turned it into a oenophilic delight, yet no one had too much to drink and the air marshal was definitely not summoned. To top it off, the flight attendants invited Molly and Julien to stay up front and enjoy the amenities, thus relieving me of my luxury-guilt and giving that splendid Pommery a reason to live before any remaining open wine was poured out--as international air-law apparently mandates--before we touched ground in the US. And like the end of a World Cup match, we exchanged jackets for a photo op.

Unfortunately for me, much of the stupendousness of Flight 87 was undone in the two hours I sat on the tarmac in my knee-hugging, no-frills, connecting flight to Richmond. Now, with only Porto memories and a micro sheath of peanuts to fortify my spirits, I had lowly coach in my lap, but first class lingered in my heart as much as it did in my glass.
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Last edited by The Modern Gentleman; 08-18-2008 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 08-16-2008, 05:21 AM   #2
tobacmon
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Welcome from VA for starters-------Richmond in the Hiz House--From Norfolk and noticed what a time you had on your flight --man gotta love that 1st. class---Thanks for the post!
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:55 PM   #3
The Modern Gentleman
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Norfolk you say. We'll have to summon the Nub masses one day and get the Cigartist to town with Sam and the Mini for a smokeathon. Hmm, sounds like an Olympic event.

The Cigar Decathlon...
Day 1
100m humidor hurdles
long filler jump
torpedo shot put
ligero high jump
400m smoke ring

Day 2
110m habana hurdles
ashtray discus
prominente pole vault
chaveta javelin
1500m fortaleza

Last edited by The Modern Gentleman; 08-18-2008 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:42 AM   #4
CigARM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Modern Gentleman View Post
Norfolk you say. We'll have to summon the Nub masses one day and get the Cigartist to town with Sam and the Mini for a smokeathon. Hmm, sounds like an Olympic event.

The Cigar Decathlon...
Day 1
100m humidor hurdles
long filler jump
torpedo shot put
ligero high jump
400m smoke ring

Day 2
110m habana hurdles
ashtray discus
prominente pole vault
chaveta javelin
1500m fortaleza

LOL I especially like the ashtray discus, because anybody would throw it as far as possible to get rid of of the stink
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