Cigars to lounges, are like kisses to elegant women … so blown.
And just like an elegant woman: some are pillars, while others pop-up; Some foster politics, others … prayerfulness. Some are nurturing, consistent and faithful like a wife and others draw you in – adulterating your senses – like a mistress. The culture is complex and – to the novice – can be intimidating; so come with.
@ The Lounge
In the 1990s, cities and governments began to institute smoking bans – except for establishments that provided services to smokers – increasing interest in cigar lounges. Popularity has increased, such that cigar lounges are more a movement than a place. You can be at the lounge poolside, in a car with windows or a top dropped, or a space designated for serving cigar patrons. These patrons might be random, revolving aficionados or they may have a membership with exclusive privileges.
Lone Wolf Cigar Company in sunny, Santa Monica was one of the first tobacco distributors on the West Coast. It is demure like Starbucks; simple, but noticeably refined with four low, classic, leather chairs to sit and smoke, read, work and/or gaze out the panoramic windows at passerby’s on Wilshire Blvd. The humidor is a long, narrow walk-in. However modest it appears, as you begin to take in the quality of the leather, the marbly ashtrays, the shiny and rustic humidors, cutters, and lighters for sale, you begin to appreciate the gravity of Hollywood’s world-class influence here. Speaking of … one can’t talk about the lounge without the humidor; and any lounge worth patronizing should have one.
Humidors aren’t only where cigars are labeled and displayed like fine China; they are climate & humidity-controlled, with a motley of leafy aromas. Humidors can resemble pencil boxes, fancy jewelry cases or convenient stores. A public humidor may only sell cigars, or it might offer smoking accessories and snacks. Like with any retail establishment, even if you take your own humidor to the lounge, you should be prepared to support your lounging by making a purchase. Don’t be that pompous patron strutting into the lounge with cigars in a Ziploc sleeve – fresh from a 7-Eleven Evolution store humidor – with a plethora of demands. “Can you turn the AC up … can I get some water … in fact, y’all got beers … better yet, run me some of what you’re drinking … can you turn the game on … can y’all get some potpourri in the bathrooms?” Yeah, don’t be that guy.
At Lone Wolf, the tobacconist warms up to patrons with draws from his cigar between answering questions, showcasing his ash length, and making sells. He’s excited and proud as he converses about the history of Lone Wolf, which was founded by Chuck Norris and James Belushi. The membership base includes the affluent wanting to escape paparazzi, to entertain someone other than their spouse, or to liberate themselves from the pervasive and sometimes daunting exposures of fame. If you hadn’t noticed the tall, tinted glass windows behind the cash register, as he talks about the dignitaries and athletes who appreciate the privacy of being able to slip in and out of a private accessway, they become the focal point. Though he may not dish kicks like Chuck Norris, the tobacconist is The Guardian of this Universe; thus, you might not want to go pressing your face against the glass to steal glimpses of who and what may be on the other side of it.
Let’s graduate to a sophomore experience and pull up to Dallas, Texas. Contrary to the state’s prideful acclaim to everything big, Cigar Warehouse is unassuming from the outside and may not have much flare when you step inside. Yet, it is comfortable like a family den and patrons are familiar like kin. Cigar Warehouse would be a great place to orient yourself more with cigars and the overall experience. If you prefer a solo smoke, peruse the humidor for a selecting to grab-and-go, suiting your current vibe, budget and time.
En route to aficionado status, we’ll take flight to the Deep South for a more bustling vibe. Fellaship is a cigar bar in Atlanta, founded by NFL player Cam Newton and Cecil Newton Jr. It is a popular landmark with locals as well as cigar aficionados who converge from the four corners of the world. It is classy with a moderately sized humidor, a two-story lounge with a fedora collection, eclectic art, TVs, two bars, fine dining, a live band or a DJ, and a strictly enforced dress code, except on Sundays when sport jerseys are permitted. Rooms can be reserved for private events. You can dine and smoke on the more populated first floor or gravitate to the intimate second floor to be more laid-back.
Whatever your mood, you don’t casually saunter into Fellaship for a cigar to bookend your day. Nahhh … it is a full-fledged experience that it would be beneficial to make reservations and get best-dressed for. Furthermore, it would be in keeping with the chic culture to pull up to valet in a clean car. I mean, you’re definitely not parking, walking across the street, passing the valet attendants and approaching the doorman at Fellaship, right? Yeah … no–
To call a trip to Fellaship a production would be a gross understatement of the appropriate amount of intentionality it calls for. It is pomp & circumstance … an epic high-society excursion.
Being a respite from the world or a place to connect more in it, a good lounge is also like an almanac for local, regional or global news and resources (i.e. current events, best restaurants, travel destinations, they organize for causes, fundraise, etc.). They serve as reliable directories for miscellaneous products & services, and for other great lounges to visit.
And just like an elegant woman, lounges – simple or complex – are all unique and highly esteemed; but what she really wants is to be known before she is blown.
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