Prior to now couple of years, a few of New York’s notable cigar lounges and bars have closed down. Regardless of this, an increasing number of individuals are stepping into cigars, at the very least based on Matthias Clock, founding father of Superb Tobacco NYC and member of the Cigar Journal tasting panel. “The truth that we’ve been capable of set up occasions for five,000-plus individuals prior to now eight years signifies that there’s a powerful neighborhood,” he tells me. Clock has been within the enterprise since 2010 and has agreed to indicate me across the metropolis’s cigar spots. First up is Nat Sherman’s stunning townhouse proper subsequent to Grand Central Station on forty second Road. “The primary purpose I selected this place is due to its choice. They carry manufacturers giant and small, and undoubtedly have the largest choice of OpusX.” “The genesis of that may be a charity occasion we had with Fuente in Might of final 12 months,” gross sales affiliate Adam Panarella provides. “They introduced in roughly every little thing that’s uncommon.” “The opposite purpose they make my record is their pricing,” continues Matthias. “Michael Herklots [vice president at Nat Sherman] not solely understands the cigar enterprise, however whereas different locations might jack up their costs, Nat Sherman is aware of what their clients want.” The inside is gorgeous and rustic with a excessive ceiling. In between the counters, a few armchairs and tables are arrange, but it surely’s not likely a smoking place. “You may smoke right here, but it surely’s not a lounge,” Panarella explains. “We’re a full luxurious retailer and tobacconist. We do, nonetheless, have the Johnson membership room downstairs, for members solely. Johnson was Nat Sherman’s nickname for his spouse, by the way in which.” “I’d say it’s a cross between a lounge and a store,” says Clock. “If somebody asks me the place they’ll sit down and smoke a well-priced cigar, I level them right here.”
We stroll by means of a busy Midtown because the solar is setting behind the towering excessive rises round us. The sidewalks are filled with individuals on their method residence after a day’s work as we make our method up Madison Avenue to one among three Davidoff places within the metropolis. Moreover an intensive Davidoff choice, the Madison Avenue location tends to supply plenty of unique cigars, in addition to an unparalleled air air flow system within the lounge. “We obtain plenty of high-end cigars, not solely Davidoffs, but in addition different manufacturers,” gross sales skilled Alejandro Ceballos tells me. “And our lounge has nice air flow. Whereas individuals would possibly complain about reeking after having visited different spots, our lounge might be packed, and also you gained’t even discover it.” “I can vouch for that,” says Matthias. “The lounge can be very quiet, which is an enormous distinction to Nat Sherman the place individuals typically yell throughout the room. That doesn’t occur right here, and having a quiet place to go to when residing in a loud metropolis may be very good. Additionally, plenty of celebrities hang around right here. Al Sharpton is one.” One other distinction is the decor. Whereas Nat Sherman may be very a lot old-fashioned, New York, Davidoff has a extra trendy and European vibe. As darkness falls, we take a stroll to the nighttime spots. First up is the Carnegie Membership, a glimpse into Nineteen Twenties New York. With the red- and-black-striped wallpaper, dim gentle, guide cabinets, leather-based furnishings and photos of celebrities smoking cigars it’s not arduous to image the outdated mobsters right here, cigar in a single hand, whiskey within the different. “The decor right here is phenomenal, their whiskey choice is unimaginable and it’s a vibe you in any other case solely discover in non-public golf equipment. It’s open previous midnight and attracts an after-work crowd. I do plenty of occasions right here, and so do different corporations,” Matthias explains. Just a few years in the past, Davidoff celebrated Avo Uvezian’s ninetieth birthday there. On the desk subsequent to us, Rob Robinson, the proprietor of Figaro Cigars, is having fun with a cigar. “This place jogs my memory of a really old-school cigar membership the place you possibly can loosen up and have good conversations with random strangers,” he feedback. It’s a place for individuals of average consumption. With stay music, it’s very a lot anchored in backroom enterprise tradition. “You typically hear comparisons with this place and the TV sequence Mad Males,” Matthias discloses.
With stricter smoking guidelines, that is one among few locations left in New York Metropolis the place you possibly can smoke and purchase a drink. Matthias tells me that it’s now not doable to open up a cigar bar within the metropolis. Whereas lounges are nonetheless okay, they aren’t allowed to serve alcohol. He laments that, sooner or later, non-public golf equipment often is the solely locations left. Nat Sherman shouldn’t be allowed to serve water to the general public, and, besides in Paley Park, a small park subsequent to Davidoff on Madison Avenue owned by Invoice Paley, proprietor of La Palina Cigars, smoking in parks is prohibited as nicely. A mixture of heavy-handed regulation and a shifting client base has compelled a number of iconic cigar spots to shut in recent times, like OK Cigars, Florio’s, Velvet Cigar Lounge, and Retailers NY Cigar Bar. Our final cease is Cigar Inn on 2nd Avenue, which was just lately acquired by Casa de Montecristo/Altadis USA. “It’s a BYO place, and there’s an awesome liquor retailer subsequent door, with the second- or third-best choice of scotch within the metropolis. It’s a really social place with a blended crowd. Whereas I’ve had mates fearful they didn’t gown up sufficient for the Carnegie Membership, that is extra open doorways. It’s very relaxed and doubtless has the second-best cigar choice after Nat Sherman.” Once more it’s a glimpse into New York, however a extra trendy model. “It’s away from the enterprise heart, so born-and-raised New Yorkers come right here. Rudy Giuliani hangs out right here, for example.” As Matthias Clock runs into some outdated mates I go away him to it and head again to my short-term condo. Locations may be closing down, however having been proven the total span of cigar spots in New York, I really feel pretty assured that the town that by no means sleeps gained’t be shutting its eyes for a while to return. Not even with regards to cigars.