HTX Ready to Jingle 2014
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This ultimate "gentlemen's party" all about fine cigars, rare whiskey and female personal shoppers

Gentlemen's party about fine cigars, rare whiskey and female shoppers

23 Paul Barnhart, from left, Franco Valobra and Cappy Bisso at the Valobra party December 2014
Paul Barnhart, from left, Franco Valobra and Cappy Bisso. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
8 Katie Dillard, left, and Julia Picou at the Valobra party December 2014
Personal shoppers Katie Dillard, left, and Julia Picou help the gents with their cigar selections. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
2 Shawn Hurwitz, from left, Larry Elliott and Mike Plank at the Valobra party December 2014
Shawn Hurwitz, from left, Larry Elliott and Mike Plank. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
20 Chuck Bracht photographing Courtney Newman at the Valobra party December 2014
Courtney Newman in one of Valobra's fab diamond necklaces. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
16 Larry Elliott, from left, David Dunlap and Westy Ballard at the Valobra party December 2014
Larry Elliott, from left, David Dunlap and Westy Ballard. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
15 Alan Stein, from left, Don Murphy and Greg Letsos at the Valobra party December 2014
Alan Stein, from left, Don Murphy and Greg Letsos. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
19 Jenna Finklea and Mike Bowman at the Valobra party December 2014
Jenna Finklea models a pair of $70,000 earrings for Mike Bowman. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
17 The crowd at the Valobra party December 2014
More than 130 men packed Valobra for the special party. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
14 Matt Young and Kalyn Byrne at the Valobra party December 2014
Matt Young and personal shopper Kalyn Byrne. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
3 Hernaldo Rivera and Josephina McManus at the Valobra party December 2014
Hernaldo Rivera and personal shopper Josephina McManus. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
9 Neill Magee, from left, Jordan Finn and Steve Schwartz at the Valobra party December 2014
Neill Magee, from left, Jordan Finn and Steve Schwartz. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
13 Federico Giannini, left, and Brenno Giannini at the Valobra party December 2014
Federico Giannini, left, and Brenno Giannini. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
12 Bryan Bennett, left, and Gary Wylie at the Valobra party December 2014
Bryan Bennett, left, and Gary Wylie. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
22 Tracy Krohn and Beatrice Bornibus at the Valobra party December 2014
Tracy Krohn and Beatrice Bornibus. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1 Alex Klein, from left, Franco Valobra and Bob Weiner at the Valobra party December 2014
Alex Klein, from left, Franco Valobra and Bob Weiner. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
23 Paul Barnhart, from left, Franco Valobra and Cappy Bisso at the Valobra party December 2014
8 Katie Dillard, left, and Julia Picou at the Valobra party December 2014
2 Shawn Hurwitz, from left, Larry Elliott and Mike Plank at the Valobra party December 2014
20 Chuck Bracht photographing Courtney Newman at the Valobra party December 2014
16 Larry Elliott, from left, David Dunlap and Westy Ballard at the Valobra party December 2014
15 Alan Stein, from left, Don Murphy and Greg Letsos at the Valobra party December 2014
19 Jenna Finklea and Mike Bowman at the Valobra party December 2014
17 The crowd at the Valobra party December 2014
14 Matt Young and Kalyn Byrne at the Valobra party December 2014
3 Hernaldo Rivera and Josephina McManus at the Valobra party December 2014
9 Neill Magee, from left, Jordan Finn and Steve Schwartz at the Valobra party December 2014
13 Federico Giannini, left, and Brenno Giannini at the Valobra party December 2014
12 Bryan Bennett, left, and Gary Wylie at the Valobra party December 2014
22 Tracy Krohn and Beatrice Bornibus at the Valobra party December 2014
1 Alex Klein, from left, Franco Valobra and Bob Weiner at the Valobra party December 2014

One of our favorite New Orleans transplants Franco Valobra knows as much about lavish entertaining as he does about the jewelry business. That party expertise is put into play each December when he combines his birthday celebration with what he likes to call "a gentlemen's party."

"My December birthday is an unfortunate one for a jeweler," he said before the curtain went up on his annual men's smoker at his Highland Village store. "It's like an accountant with a birthday on April 14."

But let us say that Valobra makes the most of the inconvenience.

More than 100 well-heeled gents poured in for the annual bash that features Cuban cigars (a savvy precursor to the warming diplomatic relations), fine cognacs and rare whiskeys along with catering from Le Mistral. While the shop was festooned with poinsettias and other holiday decor, Valobra arranged for a score of young personal shoppers to add feminine sparkle to this men-only event. 

For this special evening Valobra set up a chic party tent in front with a humidor and lounge setting where the most happy fellows could choose from 30 different varieties of cigars while sipping the really good stuff. Among the exceptional bar offerings — 18-year-old MacCallam, Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve and Yamazaki Single Malt, just named the best in the world.

Among those joining the sophisticated hunt for holiday gifts were Cappy Bisso, Alex Klein, Bob Weiner, Mike Plank, Alan Stein, Don Murphy, Greg Letsos, Mike Bowman, Chuck Bracht, Jordan Finn and Steve Schwartz.