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Interview with Omar de Frias of Fratello Cigars

Interview with Omar de Frias of Fratello Cigars

What’s the Omar de Frias and Fratello story?

I grew up in the Dominican Republic, wanting to play basketball. That’s all I wanted to do. And as I’d leave home to go play, I’d always see my grandfather and his friends at the cigar shop near my home. I always remember loving the smell of tobacco and the sophistication of the older gentlemen at the shop. When I was 16, I was invited in to watch a torcedor roll cigars, and my love for the art and craftsmanship of tobacco began.

I played some basketball in college, where I was given the nickname “Fratello” by some of the other players. It means Brother in Italian and that has always stuck with me. After college I earned an opportunity to with NASA and I moved to Northern VA/Washington DC and began my career. I had so many goals for myself while there and I was able to accomplish them a lot faster than I had originally planned… and I wanted more. Cigars were still a passion of mine, as I’d often celebrate work accomplishments by having and sharing cigars with my team members. 

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Love what you do and never look back!

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I decided that I wanted to own my own brand, and after years of travel to Central America and research, Fratello was born. I was able to team up with Joya De Nicaragua to produce the Classico, and we were off to our IPCPR/PCA first trade show in Las Vegas in 2013 and we’ve been grinding ever since!

I’ve heard that the packaging of some of your cigars were inspired by your time at Nasa. What is the untrained eye missing in your artwork?


Interview Fratello Cigars' Omar de Frias


Navetta has a box that was designed after a space shuttle tile.  It protects the orbiter on reentry and it protects my box in travel. 

If your cigars were fictional characters, which would each be and why?

All my cigars would be Fred Flintstone.  He is the epitome of hard work, he’s passionate, a friend to his friends, loves to eat meat, and a family man.  He also can’t fit in his car.

What are three things that most people don’t know about you?

  • I’m an expert salsa dancer
  • I speak four languages
  • I’m a stock trader aficionado

What is your mindset and methodology when blending a new cigar?

The first thing we focus on is flavor. We are not trying to blow someone’s head off with strength, as we want people to be able to really enjoy and taste what we make. So, I go into the process thinking, “What combination of tobaccos… varietals, age, fermentation method, will give me full flavor, with a medium strength profile. 

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You think the ladies @joyacigars believe me when I say “I know what I’m doing” ?!? #CigarRolling #Tabaquero

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I love discovering those hidden or long forgotten bales of tobacco when I go to a factory, so I always search for those or go into the very back of the aging room to see what gems have been back there resting and waiting on me to try them. Being in the factories, around such knowledgeable craftsmen and craftswomen gives me a lot of the inspiration I need to get creative and come up with incredible blends. 

The Navetta and Navetta Inverso concept is amazing to see on such a large scale. How did that work out behind the scenes?

Simple: I thought about the cigar I wanted to smoke after a successful launch or landing of the shuttle and Boom! 

Cigar trends ebb and flow in seemingly faster tides these days. What do you see as the next trend in America?

The cigar industry is so interesting… while so many things change, so many things stay the same. Over the last few years we’ve seen the popularity of larger ring gauges, as there has definitely been a market for that, and those sizes sell well. 

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Friends! These right here is the amazing team that makes sure we present you with a beautiful product! #Grateful

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Another trend has been a focus on strength. I’d love to see the industry shift back to smaller cigars, robustos, coronas, lanceros, as those smaller sizes really give you a chance to experience and taste the complexities in the tobacco. 

Collaborations are also a hot thing right now and I think that will continue.

What can Fratello fans look forward to over the next 12-18 months?

12-18 months… fans can look forward to measured growth and continued quality. The sky… or space… is the limit for us, and I truly believe that we’ll be able to reach even more consumers and more brick and mortars over the next year. We want to meet our supporters, smoke with our supporters, and talk to our supporters… and the best way to do that is to meet them where they are. 

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Saturday vibes at the Fratello Residence. #FratelloBeer and #FratelloClassico Corona!

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We are also expanding our Fratello Beer line, so look for exciting things around that. Our online store has just opened on our website, and we have some really cool things that will be debuting towards the end of the summer.  And of course, great cigars! That will never change. That’s the core of who we are and what we do, so we’ll continue to be innovative and give the public great cigars to enjoy.


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