Author Archives: Ami

About Ami

Wingtip Founder & CEO, Ami Arad is the quintessential modern gentleman. He has distinctive taste, an eclectic style, and dresses for every occasion. Ami developed his vision for Wingtip at a young age; even back in high school where four years of speech and debate meant weekends wearing a coat and tie, he was in his element. Years of working in upscale men’s clothing stores and socializing in cigar shops, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit, inspired Ami to develop Wingtip, a men’s specialty store and private social club.

#ashtag Crystal Ashtray

Wingtip’s first exclusive ashtray design

If you’re a cigar lover like me, you’ll probably never forget where you were, or what you were doing, when you first laid eyes on my inaugural ashtray design.

Simple. Purposeful. Built-in “social” integration. How could no one have already thought of it? I don’t know.

#ashtag Cigar AshtrayA crystal ashtray for a single cigar that features an accurate, engraved ruler on the underside of the bowl so you can measure how long your ash is. Any serious cigar smoker knows that a longer ash helps keep the smoke cool, and that a long ash is a sign of a well constructed cigar. Bringing the ashtray into the 21st century, the social media-savvy can photograph their cigar in the ashtray and post it to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #ashtag.

It has been a long journey from Cal dropout to software sales stardom to starving entrepreneur to ashtray designer, but now that I’m here, the view’s pretty good. And if you think I only have one ashtray design up my sleeve…well…you don’t know me.

Own the #ashtag Crystal Ashtray today. $70.

Pacific Boyschoir Academy

Wingtip outfits the top half of the Pacific Boyschoir

Pacific Boyschoir AcademyFour and a half years ago, after first opening the Club, we approached our first holiday season and needed some theme or excuse for a holiday party. After some brainstorming and googling, we decided to honor Frank Sinatra’s birthday of December 12th. Each year, the party has gotten bigger and better with this year’s live entertainment featuring a phenomenal Sinatra impersonator, a DJ, and the three-time Grammy award winning Pacific Boychoir Academy.

PBA is a non­‐denominational, independent day school for boys in grades 4-8, with 7 after-school choirs for boys in pre-kindergarten through high school. The only United States boychoir school outside of the East Coast, PBA offers unique and rigorous academic programs and choral training, producing confident, engaged young scholars and artists. PBA is a richly diverse community, focusing on excellence in academics and music education.

Wingtip was approached to help design a new look for the boys, and we jumped at the chance. For their jackets, I wanted to pick something that would usually connote formality but could be dressed down if necessary. While I believe a navy blazer is the most versatile coat a man can own, for this, it seemed too predictable and a tad too informal even when dressed up.

Black Watch –the tartan with light green, medium green, dark blue, and black seemed to have all the attributes I felt were most important: formal with a bit of whimsy and also bold enough not to be forgotten. Black watch can be dressed down with dark blue jeans and no tie, and it can be dressed up with black pants, black shoes, and black tie.

With the help of one our members, a few prototypes were made before the final coats you see in the photos above.

The Sinatra Party featured an embarrassment of riches as far as live entertainment was concerned. I loved Robbie Howard as our Sinatra, and I loved watching the PBA, I didn’t get nearly enough of either of them. The boys were a huge hit, and we hope to see them in the Club again. You can learn more about supporting the PBA here.

Next year, maybe we work on trousers and shoes!…

1886 Map of downtown San Francisco

Everything old is new again

Since 1908, the land Wingtip currently occupies has been the home of banks: first, the Bank of Italy, then the Bank of San Francisco, and most recently First Bank. But prior to the 1906 earthquake, other businesses inhabited our plot at Clay & Montgomery. Coincidentally, the businesses on our block in 1886 –128 years ago– are eerily similar to what Wingtip sells today. Here is the roster of businesses at the corner of Clay & Montgomery in 1886:

  • 1886 Montgomery & ClayA. Griesser. Importer of cigars and tobacco,
  • Martin & Horton. Wines, cigars, liquors.
  • J. Scheibli. Merchant tailor.
  • The Arion. Foreign and domestic Liquors and cigars.
  • Lawrence & Levy. Wholesale butchers.
  • J.B. Lind. Wines and cigars.
  • M. Brandenstein & Co. Wholesale butchers.
  • Adolph Osterlch. Chronometer and watchmaker.
  • W.B. Walkup & Co. Map mounting and coloring.
  • Dickman, Jones, & Hettrich. Lithographers.
  • C.W. Nevin & Co. Printers.
  • Eagle Coffee and Spice Steam Mills.
  • Henry Bruggemann. Merchant Tailor.
  • Corporal Kasche’s “for hot lunch and a glass of ice cold Fredericksburg beer.”

Tailors, wine, spirits, cigars, watches, books, beef, coffee, and hot lunch and ice cold beer — that about sums up what’s happening in that same spot today.

The map of all of downtown San Francisco is below. You’ll find our block in the upper right quadrant where the diagonal part of Montgomery Street straightens out. We also have a large print of this map framed in the Bespoke level of the store at 550 Montgomery.

 

1886 Map of San Francisco

Wingtip LA

Wingtip is expanding to downtown LA

The news is hitting the wire now that Wingtip is expanding to downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) late next year. If all goes as planned, next winter will see the opening of a 10,000 sq ft, multi-level retail store and a 12,000 sq ft Club in the 32 story office tower.

The BLOC is a $400M redevelopment of the old Macy’s Plaza which takes up the entire city block of 7th, 8th, Flower & Hope. Since they can describe it better than we can, here is how they articulate their vision for the property:

A landmark property at the heart of downtown Los Angeles, upon completion, The Bloc will bring Angelenos together in a vibrant, open-air, truly urban center. The Bloc inhabits a full city block and is undergoing $180 million in renovations to provide a curated experience of unique boutiques, premier retailers and restaurants. Originally built in 1973 by architect Charles Luckman, the development will be the single largest mixed-use property in Los Angeles where consumers can work, sleep, shop and eat. It is anchored by Macy’s, the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, and a 750,000 square foot luxury office tower. The Bloc will be LEED certified and will be the first Delos WELL Building Project in Los Angeles. Construction began in the first quarter of 2014 and is anticipated to be completed by the third quarter of 2015.

Details, renderings, news, and opportunities to become a charter member of the LA club will be posted here on the blog first!

Wingtip LA

Wingtip Window Signage

Wingtip’s new & improved windows

Passing by our store in the Financial District, you may notice our new window signage. Normally, we wouldn’t post something about signage, but we are over the moon with the way they came out. You’ll have to click on each window to appreciate some of the subtleties; if you’ve never visited the Club, the last window gives you some insight…Artwork by Hatch Design; installation by Martin Sign Co.

Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-1Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-2Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-4Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-3 Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-5Wingtip_WindowDisplay_R2-6

Hand Embroidered Directory

You don’t see hand embroidery every day

We know our customers already appreciate craftsmanship: suits made by hand rather than machines, benchmade shoes, hand-painted cufflinks, to name a few. Machines have taken over so much of the world’s production that sometimes it’s hard to remember that something was ever done by hand. Embroidery is a good example. Your golf shirt with your country club’s logo on it? The shirt is made mostly by machines, and I can guarantee you the logo was embroidered by a machine. And it probably should be, or else the shirt would cost double.

So when I found out that one of our employees was a skilled embroiderer, the question wasn’t if we should have her do something; it was what should we have her do? It needed to be something substantial to really show off the artistry. The Club needed a directory sign to help guide members & guests find their way, and so we asked Jessica Tang, our store assistant and hand-embroiderer, to create one. Because of the texture and detail, the photos don’t really do it justice, but keeping it a secret would be worse. It is being framed this week and will find its permanent home by the end of the month.

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New Scotch Malt Whisky Society single malts

The Club just received its second shipment of whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and as always, their names will pique your curiosity.

  • You Gotta Love This One
  • Watching the Monaco Grand Prix from a Roof Terrace
  • Clean and Innocent
  • Sticky Apricot Tarts at an Indian Market (23 Year)
  • Thai Noodle Stir Fry
  • Peat Smoke Infused Peach Posset (4 Year)

These whiskies are available exclusively to members of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and to members of the Club at Wingtip by the dram.

 

redwinesplash

July’s Wine Club Selections

Members of Wingtip’s Wine Clubs (1 Bottle or 2 Bottle) received some fantastic Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir this month. The Club’s Wine Director, Christina Sports, wrote up the following notes about the wines.

Flowers Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir 2011One Bottle Club

Flowers Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir 2011
Long regarded as one of the pioneers of high elevation coastal Pinot Noir, Flowers has demonstrated over the years that the vineyards in this remote corner of Sonoma Coast can produce wonderfully aromatic and expressive Pinot Noir, and are also greatly structured, which allow for great aging potential. The recently-anointed Fort Ross- Seaview AVA is home to Flowers, where current winemaker Jason Jardine has taken over the reins, and is again showing the world what magnificence can come from this extremely difficult farming site. Following a stellar lineage including Steve Kistler (Kistler Vineayrds), Greg LaFollette (Tandem, LaFollette Wines), Ross Cobb (Cobb Wines) and Katy Wilson (LaRue), Jardine is now coaxing the beautiful nuances out of the pinot grown at 1800 ft. elevation in vineyards like Camp Meeting Ridge and Sea View. From Antonio Galloni, Wine Spectator: “A model of total elegance and class, the 2011 Sea View Pinot Noir from Flowers is absolutely gorgeous. Savory herbs, crushed flowers, licorice, salt, orange peel, mint and plums are all woven together in the glass. Today, the 2011 is impeccably crafted and flat-out gorgeous. Although very much a medium-bodied wine, I would not at all be surprised to see the 2011 blossom with more time in bottle. This is an impressive effort.” – Antonio Galloni. Hold until 2016 – 2017.

Two Bottle Club

A.P. Vin Ridgetop Pinot Noir 2012A.P. Vin Ridgetop Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
Winemaker/owner Andrew P. Vingiello started on the winemaking path in 2002 after tasting a bottle of 1998 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir that left him speechless. He set out to gain experience from some of the industry’s established top names in Pinot Noir production, namely Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company. Andrew established his winery in Lompoc in 2005, where he was closer to his fruit sources at the time. Since then, he has developed relationships with growers up and down the coast of California, and his Ridgetop Vineyard expression of Pinot Noir has caught the critic’s attention. Comprised of clones 667, 777 & 115, it is an unfined and unfiltered pinot bursting with expressive fruit and structure. A vineyard that has produced 100-pt wines in the past, Andrew’s expression is big and bold, making use of the cool climate and high elevation of the site. One more cool thing? He now produces right here in San Francisco, in a Mission District warehouse. Drink Local!

LaRue Pinot Noir 2011LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2011
Owner/winemaker Katy Wilson knows Sonoma Coast. After falling in love with the vineyards and unique microclimates of the coast while working at Flowers as their oenologist and assistant winemaker under Ross Cobb, she took over winemaking duties briefly before departing to produce the wines of Kamen, where she was able to launch her own pinot passion project, LaRue, in 2009. Named for her spirited great-grandmother, LaRue has quickly gained the attention of critics and wine industry leaders alike. Named by Jon Bonné in the San Francisco Chronicle as a “Winemaker to Watch” in February 2013, she has gained a secure place in the new California winemaking elite with her incredible balance of juiciness and tension; producing friendly but highly structured wines. The 2011 Sonoma Coast is a blend of Rice-Spivak and Emmaline Ann Vineyards, located in the Sebastopol/Occidental area. Bold and layered, with cool fruit and an ethereally long finish, plum, cranberry, cream and cola flavors intermingle with crushed quartz, rose petal and touches of smoky meats. The 2011 vintage is particularly charming, showing a lifted, floral aromatic bouquet that will leave you wanting more. Only 139 cases produced.

1982 Bordeaux Dinner

1982 Bordeaux Dinner at Wingtip

It’s not everyday that we have an opportunity to experience a snapshot of history in a glass, with a particular focus on one of the most legendary vintages of our lifetime. Hailed as a vintage that changed everything, 1982 was stellar in Bordeaux, with praise coming from all angles, particularly from wine critic, Robert Parker. This vintage has perhaps done more to stir hype in the market, drastically affect prices, and influence a stylistic shift in winemaking that still resonates. Why do people still talk about this as one of the finest vintages of Bordeaux ever? Come find out as we taste through a well-curated lineup of stellar producers from the legendary vintage, including two 100 point wines and 3 of the 5 First Growths.

Matthew Goldfarb of The Cellar Manager put together this parcel from the cellar of a legendary collector in the Los Angeles area. All wines were purchased on release or through trusted auction and retail sources and stored in temperature and humidity control.

There are two spaces remaining for this very special evening at Wingtip on Saturday night, June 14th, 2014. Cocktails will start at 6:30pm with a multi-course pairing menu created by chef Matt Paine beginning at 7pm. The tasting includes the following wines, all from the famed 1982 vintage:

Right Bank

  • Chateau Calon Segur – St. Estephe, 94+ points
  • Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste – Pauillac, 96 points
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Pauillac, 100 points
  • Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou – St. Julien, 96 points
  • Chateau Gruaud Larose – St. Julien, 98 points
  • Chateau Leoville Las Cases – St. Julien, 95+ points
  • Chateau Margaux – Margaux, 98 points
  • Chateau Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan, 95 points
  • Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan, 100 points

Left Bank

  • Chateau Trotanoy – Pomerol, 94 points
  • Chateau Cheval Blanc – St. Emilion, 92 points

In addition, a couple members are bringing additional bottles to share. $1,000 per guest, all inclusive. If interested, please email ami [at] wingtip.com.

Davidoff Royal Salomones

Davidoff Royal Salomones: Now Available

A very special and rare cigar has arrived to Wingtip: the Davidoff Royal Salomones. Historically, it has only been sold through Davidoff’s own stores, but with our large Davidoff presence in the store, and the budding business we’re doing with them through our partner, Telford’s of Mill Valley, we have a box of 50 available for sale in individual cigars.

Davidoff Royal Salomon Part 1This is a cigar for either a worthy celebration, or because you’re like me, and you have a compelling need to smoke anything new. At $70/stick, it’s not for the faint of heart. But it is a phenomenal smoke, and well worth trying once.

The Royal Salomon has a Dominican binder and seven different Dominican tobaccos making up the filler. The wrapper is Ecuadorian. At over 8 inches long, it is a two hour cigar (so, really, you’re just looking at $35/hour). As with all cigars Davidoff, it was very well made; the ash would frequently grow to an inch or more before falling. The flavor was very refined and consistent throughout the entire cigar.

Davidoff Royal Salomon Ash We have 41 cigars remaining (it was a box of 50 until we sold 8 and I took one to try), and we don’t know when we’ll see another box of these, if ever (we likely will, but we can’t say for sure). We also have an unopened box for sale for $3,500 if you’re looking for a very special gift for a cigar smoker in your life.