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Cigar Tip: Find Yourself a Winter Sanctuary

30 Nov 2011

For those of us who live in the northern part of the U.S., winter can be a crummy time to be a cigar enthusiast. The cold, arid air makes humidor maintenance more difficult. And, with a lack of indoor smoking sanctuaries thanks to government-imposed bans, we’re often forced into the frosty outdoors if we want to enjoy a premium cigar.

I live in Chicago, where the winters can be brutal. For me, as often as I like to smoke, simply going outside is not an option. I cannot be expected to bundle up and sit in the arctic frost for 90 minutes or more every time I want a cigar, notwithstanding how many times I’ve done that before, and notwithstanding how much I respect those who consistently brave the weather to light up some premium tobacco.

Thankfully, I have a loving wife who understands this, and who isn’t vehemently opposed to the delightful aroma of a premium cigar. So when we were on the market for our new home in Chicago, we specifically looked at condos that have a room that could be turned into my winter smoking den. Our requirements were as follows: the room must have a ceiling fan, several windows, a good heat source, and at least enough space for my humidors. We also wanted a hard wood floor, since carpeting tends to soak up that stale tobacco smell and get stained by errant ashes.

I’m pleased to report that the condo we ended up buying has all this and more. After some adjustments—including the installation of French doors with basic weather stripping and draft guards—I have a wonderful smoking den off of our main living room. The den is big enough to house a comfy chair, all of my humidors, lots of books, a desk for writing, and even a dartboard. And it has ample windows, each with a good view of the neighborhood.

My procedure for lighting up in this sanctuary is basically to crack open a window, fire up the radiator to offset any incoming chill, turn on the ceiling fan, and smoke away. With the doors closed, all this is enough to keep the vast majority of the smoky smell away from the rest of our home. Sure, the den isn’t air-tight. And I didn’t invest the money to buy an expensive exhaust system. But my wife doesn’t strongly oppose cigar smoke, either, so it was never my intention to completely isolate myself from the rest of the world. Heck, I find that I open the doors an average of two or three times during each cigar, usually to get a cold one from the fridge.

All this worked out fantastically well, and I understand how lucky I am to be able to pull this off. I’ll be feeling even luckier once those subzero temperatures sweep in and the snow begins to fall. So my advice is to find yourself a winter smoking sanctuary before it’s too late, be that sanctuary at a cigar lounge or in your home. Otherwise, you may want to invest in some warm gloves that leave your fingers nimble enough to cut and light a cigar.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

11 Responses to “Cigar Tip: Find Yourself a Winter Sanctuary”

  1. ron Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Luckily, we here in Portland Ore do have some cigar bars in which to take our winter refuge.

  2. Nick M. Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I'm the president of the home owner's association in our building here in Minneapolis. I have access to a 900 square foot boiler room where I smoke until the snow melts. My chair is not nearly as plush as yours and my smoking quarters tote a slightly more burnished patina, but it keeps me out of the cold. Your smoking den looks spectacular.

    • Andy M Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      I just bought a 45,000 BTU kerosene heater to pump my garage up to 65 degrees so I can brave the Minnesota winter with my cigars. Wish I would've known about your boiler room hideout before I spent the money.

  3. Jenkins Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Wow…really nice smoking den. Looks like the kind of place a man can really put up his feet, have a nice smoke, and drink a little bourbon to keep warm. Your wife is cool for "letting" you get that space — though I'm sure she has pretty much taken control of the rest of the house. 🙂

  4. cigarphil Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    YOU DOG !!! I'll think of you as I huddle in the sun beam at 15 degrees. I'll send a picture this winter so you know what pitiful really looks like. Philly has cold winters, on the other hand we have Holt's. It's half and hour away and parking is $25, not a real option

  5. Ira Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Your wife is a doll to allow you to create this space to indulge in your fine smokes!! The warm fall in the Northeast has prolonged outdoor smoking but I'm dreading the cold winter for the reasons you describe. I'm going to send this to my wife. Who knows??

  6. Swede214 Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Patrick, that looks very nice, you are fortunate to have a ''cool'' place to smoke your cigars, and a very nice place, if I may say. All of us,in the Chicago area will be thinking of you,when we will be in our ''cool'' place smoking our cigars.

  7. Eric Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Awesome setup, and your wife is to be applauded. Cheers.

  8. jjo Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Patrick, you may want to check out Mike's review of the Rabbit Air air cleaner at Stogie Review:

  9. Julie Matthewson Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 6:04 am #

    I like your point with regards on your post, It seems to be interesting and great to hang out with friends.

  10. Peter Brown Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    I like your post very much. It's looking very nice smoking den. I wish to make such thing to enjoy smoking. It's a great topic. Thank you.