MoS GOOD LIFE GUIDE TO: THE BEST CIGAR BARS + Lounges AROUND THE WORLD
There is a class of cooking in which skilled chefs turn the raw material of the market into a feast for the eyes, palate and soul. The difference between a mere meal and a true epicurean experience is easy to feel, but difficult to find in an unfamiliar city — so with that in mind, the MoS editors are excited to present our “Good Life Guides.” We’ll share the best life has to offer — which includes eating with confidence wherever you find yourself.
We won’t limit the “Good Life Guides,” though, simply to celebrated chefs and fine dining — because the essence of an unforgettable meal is no less the essence of wine, spirits and premium cigars, all of which occupy a prominent place in the gastronomic firmament and require a unique set of artisanal skills. — The Editors
THE UNIQUE JOURNEY ONE UNDERTAKES WHEN HE LIGHTS UP A CIGAR is not dissimilar to the grand trek that the cigar itself made to arrive in the hands of a given cigar enthusiast. Some two hundred pairs of hands (often across many countries) touch a cigar, taking it from seed to shelf, before it arrives at its final destination of being lit up.
The personal journey of the cigar smoker that follows once the cigar is lit can be either ones of solitude and meditative contemplation, or of camaraderie and sociability. The latter evokes the notion that cigars themselves facilitate yet another journey into the art of conversation, as someone wise once said, “Cigar smoking knows no politics. It’s about the pursuit of pleasure, taste, aroma and a convivial atmosphere.”
So alone or with others, once must find the ideal spot to enjoy a fine smoke. The following compendium of the best cigar bars/lounges around the world will assist in that objective.
BEIJING: Davidoff Lounge @ The Ritz-Carlton
Replete with crystal chandeliers, silk drapes, marble floors and baroque furnishings, the Davidoff Lounge just might be the most excusive cigar bar in Beijing, if not all of Asia. There is a main barroom, as well as private rooms to entertain. The walk-in humidor offers a full assortment of cigars. And the bar offers some of the rarest single malts you’ll find in China.
HONG KONG: Cohiba Cigar Divan @ Mandarin Oriental
The Cohiba Cigar Divan opened in1992, about the same time as the original Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills (below.) Located the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the original HK cigar divan is incredibly diminutive (there are a scant 30 private lockers for regular clients who wish to age their cigars,) yet it remains since its opening the must-smoke destination for any true cigar enthusiast. The décor evokes Havana, as does the mojito they serve.
HONG KONG: Pacific Cigar Divan
The bigger brother of the Cohiba Cigar Divan, the Pacific Cigar Divan has a very modern mirrored interior design, as well as a balcony with custom made rattan furniture to smoke outdoors and enjoy the sweeping views of the Central HK skyline. Both divans offer an exceptional selection of current release and aged Cuban cigars.
BEVERLY HILLS: Grand Havana Room
Accessible only by private elevator, this members-only cigar club offers a dining room with a gourmet menu, lounge area with a well-stocked bar and two terraces. You must know a member to gain access, but it’s well worth bothering a friend of a friend. The centerpiece of the main clubroom is a glassed-in humidor that contains 350 blond-wood cigar lockers with etched brass nameplates that read like a who’s who of the entertainment world. There is a small selection of cigars for sale, however this is more of a BYOC kind of place.
LAS VEGAS: Andre’s Cigar Lounge
Located right on The Las Vegas Strip, Andre’s Cigar Lounge, found on the second floor of Andre’s Restaurant at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino, is a modern take on a gentlemen’s club, with dark grain wood floors and sleek Italian leather couches, Known for their exceptionally impressive collection of Cognacs and Armagnac (they offer over 130 cognacs by the glass), as well as over 40 different premium cigars, this luxurious getaway is a must when visiting Sin City.
NEW YORK CITY: Club Macanudo
While there were cigar bars that came before it, when Club Macanudo opened it took people’s breath away—and still does. For going on twenty years “Club Mac” as it is affectionately called, has remained the shining star of Manhattan’s cigar scene. The cigar selection is extensive, appealing to any level of cigar smoker, the well stocked bar wants for nothing, and the dining room menu offers sumptuous fare. A must stop destination for any cigar lover.
NEW YORK CITY: Carnegie Club
Across the street from the world famous Carnegie Hall you will find the newly decorated Carnegie Club, which offers up an elegant art deco, New-York-back-in-the-day ambiance. The cigar menu is limited, but is offers a sufficient assortment of premium and ultra premium cigars. One of the club’s main attractions is its “Sounds of Sinatra” show every Saturday night starring singer/performer Steve Maglio. If you didn’t get to see Ol’ Blue Eyes back when, this is as close as you’ll get with a Scotch in one hand and a cigar in another.
LONDON: Garden Room @ The Lanesborough
What can you say about one of the most exceptional cigar lounges ever built other than just that? The Garden Room at the Lanesborough is a magical space, with one of the best cigar menus in the world of vintage and current Hanavas. The Scotch and Cognac offerings are encyclopedic, the cocktails are masterful and it is intimate elegant space too boot. If you visited just one cigar bar on this list, this should be it.
LONDON: Dukes Bar @ Dukes London
You’d have to go some way to beat The Garden Room, however we would be remiss not to give a special mention to Dukes Bar in St James. They have a very small, but beautifully appointed cigar terrace and serve the very best martinis you can find just about anywhere (though The Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris is up there martini-wise.) As our cigar man in London Jimmy McGhee said, “A cigar and one of Alessandro’s Martinis is one of life’s true real pleasures.”
PARIS: Le Cubana Café
The name says it all… a Havana lounge atmosphere where mojitos and whisky flow like water and blue smoke wafts through the air. Cubana Café offers a solid selection of Cuban cigars (but those in the know, and some forethought, purchase their cigars at a cigar shop called Tabac du Dôme, a two minute walk away on boulevard Montparnasse.) Go for the cocktails and the cigars, the food is average at best, but who wants just middling when in Paris?
PARIS: Art Tabac
Our favorite cigar connoisseur in Paris, Guillaume Tesson, turned us on to this amazing locals hangout just behind the Montparnasse railway station where you can choose from a great selection of Cubans, as well as cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras. There is even a house brand of cigars offered, Les Pitbull Puros, a full-bodied smoke from Nicaragua. For a modest €10, you can have a nice glass of rhum (the 1919 Angostura from Trinidad & Tobago smells and tastes like white chocolate) or a whisky.
GENEVA: Library Room @ La Réserve Genève
La Réserve Genève is an exceptional boutique hotel property located on Lake Geneva, convenient to the city center. The quirky and contemporary interior immediately says, “You are here to have a good time,” and indeed you will. The Library Room is a present-day take on what a formal private library might be if it had wait staff. The cigar selection is respectable and the atmosphere is exceptional—and the good news is, the cocktails work.
NAIROBI: Restaurante Havana
One wouldn’t typically associate Cuban cuisines and cigars with Kenya, but have cigars will travel. This mainstay of the Nairobi bar scene garners consistent rave reviews. There is a smoking lounge upstairs with a modest selection of cigars. Bring your own if you’re fussy, they won’t mind. The whiskey selection is unexceptional, however you can’t go wrong with am Irish coffee made with local Kenyan coffee and Irish Whiskey—man up and pass on the whipped cream. SIG