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Commentary: Some of the Country’s Top Cigar Bars

11 Jun 2012

Smoke-filled rooms are a thing of the past. With advanced air-filtration systems, comfortable elbowroom, and high definition televisions on every wall, today’s cigar bars have become havens for aficionados to come together and enjoy their pastime in a friendly, upscale environment. A good cigar bar resembles the world’s greatest playroom: free WiFi, Nintendo Wii, pool tables, live music, quality food and drink, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, a full calendar of events, and, of course, a walk-in humidor with a bountiful selection.

It’s a world of great company. A specialized club with unspoken rules. A place where one can sit in peace with a cigar to watch the local sports game, enjoy a good read, or catch up with a friend. For some folks, cigar bars have become a regular hangout. Here are some of the best in the country:

Velvet Cigar Lounge, New York City

You can bring your own beverage to this classic club in Manhattan’s East Side Village. Its brick walls and warm environment provide city slickers with a perfect place to relax. And there’s more. This lounge sells their own private boutique brand of cigars in their store, and those cigars get pretty good reviews. (80 E. Seventh St.; 212-533-5582; velvetcigars.com)

Burn by Rocky Patel, Naples

This exotic Asian/Mediterranean/Caribbean influenced lounge is owned by Rocky Patel and features his complete line plus a selection of pre-embargo Cuban cigars. A vintage H. Upmann goes for $200 per stick or the big spenders can pick up a box of old Montecristos for $12,500. (9110 Strada Pl; 239 653-9013; burnbyrockypatel.com)

Grand Havana Room, Beverly Hills

It’s members only at this private club, a home to many of Hollywood’s elite. The centerpiece is a glassed-in humidor with 350 private lockers, each fixed with a brass nameplate etched with their owner’s name. With a private elevator and a calendar filled with special events, this secret cigar lair is one of the nation’s most high-end cigar clubs. (301 N. Canon Dr.; 310-385-7700; grandhavana.com)

Shelly’s Back Room, Washington, D.C.

You might run into one of our beloved leaders at the most popular cigar spot in the nation’s capital. Shelly’s has a full bar and a menu with everything from wings to bacon-wrapped shrimp. This casual yet elegant cigar lounge features eight large screen televisions and a special selection of rare cigars, including 10 of Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25. (1331 F St. NW; 202-737-3003; shellysbackroom.com)

Mark M

photo credit: Various

Drew Estate

12 Responses to “Commentary: Some of the Country’s Top Cigar Bars”

  1. scottright Monday, June 11, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    No list of the best cigar-smoking lounges in America is complete without Mahogany on Walnut in Philadelphia, Cigar Masters in Boston, or the Cigar Inn in NYC.

    Of these, I'd have to say Mahogany is my favorite by a small margin. Mahogany is the kind of place that feels like an old fashioned smoking parlor, where men – and women – of the ruling class would adjourn to and discuss the issues of the day. The bar is well stocked, the staff very helpful, and the vibe friendly and conversational. The one draw back is Mahogany doesn't have its own humidor, but with Holt's Cigar Ship just downstairs stocking up before your visit is
    hardly a problem.

    Cigar Masters in Boston is a very close No.2. This is what a cigar lounge should be – weathered leather couches softer than the cows they came from, a great walk-in humidor, and a terrific staff of chicks who, quite frankly, know their sticks (no disrespect is meant by referring to them as chicks…I just wanted the rhyme.). I'm from Boston and Cigar Masters is home to me – catching a Red Sox game here is a home town pleasure second only to seeing the Sox at Fenway. And it's a HANG…

    Cigar Inn is also a place I love. It's BYOB – at least it was when I was there – and features a fabulous humidor featuring hundreds of great cigars. The lounge itself is modest, but what made the experience for me was the friendliness of the patrons. I was there smoking a La Gloria Cubana one evening and chatting with my fellow cigar fans. One man noticed I was without a drink – and poured me a big bourbon from his own bottle. Now that's a place you want to hang in.

    Of course, everyone has their favorites as well – but these are essential stations of the cross for any serious cigar smoker. Best of all, none of them require a membership – apart from the one that matters most: a love of a great cigar and a fine place to smoke it.

    • Chris S Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Scottright, in all the time I've been living in NYC I've been right by this Cigar Inn at least once a week and never noticed it. I'll have to search it out next time I am on Second Ave (maybe a stop at the Jets Shop is in order, I think I need a new hat all the sudden).

      A question for other NYC frequenters or residents. Is De La Concha worth a trip down there for? I've walked past it a few times on my way to different events, but never had the time to stop in. It looks like a nice store, but are the prices good and if so, is there a smoking room and do they charge to use it?

      Also, Davidoff in Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle has opened their smoking room back up as well. The prices are a little steep there, but the service is nothing short of wonderful, and the gentleman who runs the store loves to get talking about music if you want to converse with him.

  2. Francis Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    CXIII Rex in Alexandria, VA, has to be the finest club in the country, hands-down. That place is crazy cool with awesome food, a great bar, hot chicks galore, and the coolest space I've ever smoked in — which includes a stuffed lion. But it is highly exclusive and I believe you need to put down like $5,000 just for the priviledge to buy a membership. Best to go as a guest.

    • scottright Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      Francis, for $5000 CXIII Rex damn well better be amazing. Sounds great (and I'd go if someone invited me) but I'm sure I'd enjoy smoking a cigar there about as much as I'd enjoy drinking an overpriced martini at a lounge with a velvet rope outside and a line of trendy scenesters clamoring to get in.

  3. Patrick Ashby Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    My hometown of Westmont, IL ( a suburb of Chicago) has a new cigar lounge called The Humidor. The main area is nice and spacious and entry is free (as long as you buy the cigar you're smoking at the location). Really good selection and good prices too.

    This location also just opened a members-only room, which is Davidoff's first cigar lounge in the U.S. Kelsey Grammer was on hand for the grand opening.

  4. George E. Monday, June 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    I haven't made it over to the other coast to visit Burn yet, but I hear it's doing fantastic business. Wall-to-wall on most nights and absolutely packed on the weekends. It would be fun to be there on a night when Rocky sits in on drums.

  5. Mike Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Mahogany recently closed, unfortunately:
    http://phillycigarbar.com/

    I always heard it was great. I am a huge fan of King Corona in Tampa's Ybor City, as well as Corona Cigars in Orlando and Casa Fuente in Las Vegas.

    Michigan's smoking ban, passed 2 years ago, allows for cigar bars. I have several local favorites but am trying to find all of the exempted properties. One cigar bar in Bay City is located in a former horse stable. Unique.

    • scottright Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      This is a damn shame – really. My wife and I spent a lot of time in Mahogany and I'm very sad to see it go. This fine establishment deserved better. I'd love to know the full story with this…

      • Patrick Semmens Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        I've heard that Holt's will be opening their own cigar bar in the same space. Can't remember where I heard that.

      • scottright Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

        I did a little sniffing around and Holt's plans are to open the Ashton Cigar Room in the space that was Mahogany. As for Mahogany, they're looking to reopen in the same neighborhood. So, while I'm miss the spot that was Mahogany, it's good to know that Philly could have two great places to smoke.

  6. Ricardo Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Where's the people?

  7. Ed M. Friday, June 15, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Club Macanudo in NYC is a pretty awesome place to go as well.
    http://www.clubmacanudo.com/

    Sure, I'm a bit biased, but the atmosphere, events, and food make it one of the top places around, and deserved of a place on any top cigar bar list. Open to the public and one of the few places in the City you can still enjoy a smoke without feeling like a criminal.