Best Cigar Bars: A Guide to the Most Famous
A Guide to the Most Famous Cigar Bars
The cigar has a history in both American (dating back to native societies) and European culture. It has symbolized a respite from work and a time for discussion. In Central America, from Cuba to Nicaragua to Honduras, smoking occurs on street corners, on or near tobacco farms, or in assorted shops: it is much more ingrained into daily life. In Europe, especially England, cigars have long been a favored pastime, allocated spatially to smoking rooms or parlors within people’s houses.
In present day culture, especially in the West, the act of smoking a cigar has moved – in part due to legal restrictions – into cigar shops, lounges or bars. All of which, provide a relaxing space and atmosphere to enjoy the pleasures of a cigar, either alone or with company.
The cigar bar really centers on the smoking experience. It often pairs cigars with fine alcohol, good food, quality coffee, music (sometimes live) and/ or a televised sporting event. But, most importantly, the best cigar bars provide a pleasant space for thoughtful conversation with new friends.
The modern cigar bar’s two dominant themes come from either Cuba’s Latin culture or England’s smoking room tradition. Cuban-based cigar bars are often more rustic and bohemian than English versions. They often couple the cigar with Latin cuisine, beverages and music. The English-style bars often evoke aristocratic pleasures and tastes, such as fine, dark woods and deep, comfortable leather chairs.
Cigar bars of high quality and interest can be found around the world.
Club Macanudo (New York City, USA)
Let’s start with the U.S. based, Club Macanudo in New York City (aficionados will recognize the brand from its renowned cigars). Though called a club, this huge bar is open to the public, but it’s still very much a sanctuary. With subtle Native American interior décor, Club Macanudo hearkens back to an earlier era of cigar lounge in which luxury was paramount. Therefore, this multi-room bar and dining facility achieves high-end quality and refinement, and yet doesn’t feel stuffy or overly exclusive. Order a glass of single malt scotch to get the most out of your Club Macanudo smoking experience.
Davidoff Lounge (Beijing, China)
Now let’s cross the Pacific. The Ritz-Carlton in Beijing is home to an opulent cigar bar called the Davidoff Lounge (again, seasoned smokers will recognize the name from the Davidoff cigar it’s named after). The bar is named after Zino Davidoff, the famous Swiss tobacconist, who began opening luxurious cigar bars in the 1930s. This specific bar is three stories tall and features multiple VIP rooms with everything from card tables to Wii stations and karaoke machines. Appropriately, this Davidoff Lounge is of the English persuasion, but more traditionally Asian in décor and style than others.
Burlington Club (Manama, Bahrain)
In Western Asia we come to another Ritz Carlton-based cigar bar: the Burlington Club in Manama, Bahrain. This space is located in the heart of the Middle East, off the Persian Gulf. Its large-scale bar and lounge greatly contribute to the resort’s world-renowned feeling of escape. Slightly darker in décor, though with lots of variability from room to room, the bar is mostly reminiscent of the English gentleman’s club. The Burlington Club also takes great pride in its whiskey. You’ll find a phenomenal selection.
Tynska Bar & Books (Prague, Czech Republic)
Going North into Europe, Tynska Bar and Books in Prague calls itself “the world’s most refreshingly civilized place to meet.” This smaller, candle-lit, oaky bar has a short but extraordinary cigar list. For those in the mood for a cocktail, the dark and cozy European cigar club also offers a fine assortment of whiskeys, wines and other high quality beverages.
La Casa del Habano (Stuttgart, Germany)
In the heart of Europe, La Casa del Habano in Stuttgart, Germany, provides high-end cigar enthusiasts with a place to really whet their whistle. Home to a huge, unparalleled cigar list, this German lounge also pours a variety of fine liquors to pair with your smoke. La Casa del Habano also provides a very large, and comfortable space to sit and enjoy the cigar.
Le Cubana Café (Paris, France)
In central Europe, Paris’ Le Cubana Café offers a taste of the Cuban lifestyle far from its Caribbean shores. This bar focuses on keeping the cigars lit and the drinks poured throughout your visit. Its décor is Cuban influenced, filled with vibrant yellows and enticing reds. Separate from the bar and restaurant, the designated smoking room is nicely sized with an intimate feel. It’s not private, but an entry fee is required.
Floridita Cigar Lounge (London, England)
Moving toward the Atlantic coast, the Floridita Cigar Lounge in London, this English club is directly influenced by its Cuban counterpart. It provides live Cuban music, inspired food, eclectic cocktails and, most importantly, Cuban cigars. And it does so with the flare that only this international city can provide. Perhaps most interestingly, there is an in-house cigar roller, who hand-rolls Cubans to order. Rest assured, it’s more than a novelty. If you can’t make it out to London for a made-to-order, hand-made Cuban, pick up a Cuban Alternative from JR and enjoy it from the comfort of your own smoking lounge: home.
El Floridita (Havana, Cuba)
But for the real thing, we’ve made it back. El Floridita in Havana, may be the best and the most famous cigar bar in the world. It is a downright Caribbean oasis. The bartenders and servers dress like matadors and on certain days you may be serenaded by a small band of guitarists – in trova style. Identified as the originator of the daiquiri and plenty more, this cigar bar has been around since the early 1800s. In fact, Ernest Hemingway was a famous patron and today there is actually a statue of him at the bar. Although rougher around the edges than some of the other bars on this list, El Floridita is just as classy and distinguished.
This list of cigar bars provides a basic world tour of the top smoking lounges and locations in the world. From Cuba to Beijing and everywhere in between, these establishments would be captivating, delicious, enjoyable destinations for any cigar enthusiast. Now go explore the world and discover your favorite cigar bar before it’s too late!