I'm back in New York after my week in Cuba. I
spent most of the time in Havana, visiting 14 cigar shops, including
each of the city's nine La Casas del Habanos. These are stores that sell
Cuban cigars, of course, but there's more to a La Casa than just
cigars. Being a La Casa del Habano means you have to stock a certain
number of smokes, have a staff that is well informed about them, need a
place where your customers can smoke and a bar serving drinks. They're
Most shops had decent stocks of Cuban cigars, with some notable exceptions. The only Cohiba Behike sighting was at the La Casa del Habano at the Habana Libre Hotel. That shop only had a partial box of Cohiba Behike BHK 52s and a box with some Cohiba Behike BHK 56s. (We relieved them of a few of those.) I asked if there were any more in the back, and there was a quick shake of the head. These cigars are hard to come by in Cuba.
The La Gloria Cubana jar, the regional edition for Cuba itself, is also sold out. On our December visit, they seemed to be everywhere, and in February, during the Festival, we also saw good stocks. On this visit the only ones I saw had been reserved for customers.
The prices in Havana, as always, were quite good. All the prices are in Cuban convertible pesos (CUCs), which are now priced on equal parity with the U.S. dollar. Here's an example. Prices range from 3.60 CUCs ($3.60) for a little Montecristo No. 5 up to 26 CUCs for a Cohiba BHK 56. Monte 2s are 7.60, Cohiba Robustos are 10.40, Partagas Serie D No. 4s are 5.70 and Partagas Lusitanias are 10.30. The most expensive box of cigars I saw was a box of 25 Montecristo As for 500 CUCs.
We filmed lots of video on this trip, including one that that shows you inside and out of the La Casa del Habano at the Partagas Cigar Factory. (I misspoke in the introduction—I don't think this is actually the world's busiest cigar store, but it's the busiest of the more than 140 La Casa del Habanos around the world.) You no doubt have heard that the Partagas cigar factory is closing for renovations. (It was still open during this trip, but could close very soon.) The good news is that the store is going to remain open during the renovation.
The shop gets busiest in the early morning when tourists pour in, so I went by on an afternoon during a comparatively slow moment and paid a visit while puffing away on a spicy little Cohiba Siglo I. Take a look at the video, which includes a trip into the private back room.
There aren't nearly as
many cigars on display here as there are in most Cuban La Casas, but
Partagas does such a brisk business that the shop can often get what you
want, even if you don't see it in the case on display. The stocks of H.
Upmann Noellas in the back alone was quite impressive. The entire
retail operation is run by Abel Exposito, who really knows his cigars
and is always quite hospitable.
The smoking lounge in the back is definitely my favorite part of the shop. If you do a lot of business at Partagas, you should ask about puffing in the back. It's one of the best smoking rooms in Havana. And even though this is a spot where you'll find tons of tourists, no visit to Havana is complete without a visit to Partagas.
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