Cigars & Whisky

Lounging Around

Visiting a cigar lounge is supposed to be a relaxing experience
By Maggie Kimberl
It’s a place to sit in a comfortable chair, maybe have a drink, and speak to your friends or make some new ones. Wherever you travel you can find a cigar lounge that feels like your home away from home, because the etiquette is always the same.

“Smoking a cigar in a lounge is supposed to be a relaxing experience, as well as an environment for comradery,” says Jonathan Ross Lipson, director of sales and marketing for Alec Bradley. “If it’s obvious that a fellow aficionado wants their space - don’t engage. If a fellow aficionado wants to join the conversation, be welcoming. As Lew Rothman, the ex-owner of JR Cigars, once said: ‘You meet the nicest people in a cigar shop.’ Have fun and don’t take life so seriously, everyone is there with one thing in common- doesn’t matter from which walk of life you come from- you are all there to enjoy a cigar.”

We all have tough days and hectic lives, but when you enter the cigar lounge you are supposed to leave all that at the door. Topics like politics and religion should always be off limits. You’re also supposed to leave your cigar collection at the door, an unwritten rule that those who are new to cigar lounges don’t always know.

“If the sole purpose of the tobacconist is selling tobacco and tobacco accessories, a lounge is an added benefit,” says Lipson. “In this case it is never OK to bring in an outside cigar, even if you purchased it previously from the same retailer. Purchase a cigar or multiple cigars that day to enjoy the benefits of the lounge; and it is a benefit, not a right. The tobacconist has overheads; how is he going to keep his lights on when you don’t support him? The only exception to this is if you happen to be a paid locker member and your membership agreement allows bringing in outside cigars. Would you bring a Whopper into McDonalds and sit down and eat? A cigar bar’s business is primarily liquor, this is where the best markup is. If you are drinking, feel free to bring your own cigar. If you are not drinking, you have to support the establishment somehow, buy a cigar.”

When it’s time to pick a cigar, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, the whole reason the shop is there is so that you can ask the tobacconist for advice, about what’s new, and to recommend something you may life based on your preferences. Your tobacconist also knows all the latest tricks and gadgets.

“The tobacconist is an expert at his trade, so even if you don’t agree with how he tells you how to cut or light a cigar, indulge him, you may learn something,” says Lipson.

Keep your opinions about other people’s cigars to yourself, too.

Lastly, don’t snub your cigar out in the ashtray, it stinks. Instead, leave it in the ashtray until it burns out.

WHERE TO...

In the heart of Washington D.C., just blocks from the White House, you’ll find the oldest tobacconist in the District of Columbia, as well as the third oldest in the United States. There’s nothing to drink here, alcohol or otherwise, but it’s a great place to take a break from sightseeing to relax with a fine cigar - and there are fine cigars aplenty in addition to professional staff. In addition to a walk-in humidor, there are also cabinets full of every cigar brand you can imagine, from Arturo Fuente and Alec Bradley to Tatuaje and Punch, including all of the latest releases. There’s an entire room dedicated to pipes, pipe tobacco, and pipe accessories, and there is a wide selection of cigar accessories including cutters, lighters, and humidors to boot. There are lounge chairs throughout the space, some situated in groups and others along the wall near the humidor, so you can go alone or with a group and feel totally comfortable either way. There are a couple of televisions but there’s no sports bar atmosphere. Considering its location in the midst of D.C. proper, it’s a nice quiet spot to take a break from your day.

The art of Envy
Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto & Angel’s Envy Rye
Handmade items are often a lost art these days, and this cigar’s name is a nod to the fact that fine cigars are still made by hand. Alec Bradley is a small cigar company, based in Miami with a strong following. This 5x52 robusto is made in Honduras at the Raices Cubanas factory using a Honduran wrapper and Honduran and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. Predominant flavors of this cigar include milk chocolate and baking spice with a peppery finish. When paired with the Angel’s Envy Rye, the whiskey brings out strong dark chocolate notes in the smoke, while the smoke brings out caramel apple and baking spices in the otherwise maple-syrupy rum cask finished whiskey. The sweetness from the rum finish played nicely with the spicy and earthy notes in this cigar, enhancing them into a more sophisticated profile.

Vanilla and Rye
Liga Undercrown Sungrown Double Corona & Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera has been busy turning out new blends since being appointed in 2014, and the Sungrown series of Liga Undercrown was a challenge from the tobacco procurement side of things. This 7x54 Corono Do is part the third line of Undercrown cigars from Drew Estate since 2011. It features an Ecuadorian Sumatra sungrown wrapper, Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut/Cured sungrown Habano binder, and a blend of Nicaraguan fillers, one of which is an aged Ligero from the Nueva Segovia region along the border of Honduras. Upon first light there are notes of cedar, espresso, and bitter dark chocolate. Together with the Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye the cigar brings out warm baking spices and citrus in the rye, the rye brings out strong vanilla and chocolate notes.