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Jack Bettridge

Smoking Spots

Posted: Aug 1, 2012 12:00am ET

I’m sitting atop 666 Fifth Avenue, gazing out across glorious Central Park as the sun goes down in the full flush of midsummer and I think, “What would make this scenario even better?

I’ll kill the suspense right now and just say it: a cigar and a cocktail.

Happily, the above mentioned address is home to New York City’s Grand Havana Room, where enjoying those two items in conjunction is not only allowed, it’s the plan. So I summon the svelte waitress in the end-of-the-world mini-dress, request a Knob Creek Manhattan straight up with a twist and draw my Alec Bradley Tempus from a pouch humidor.

All is right with the world. I’m in one of the premier smoking spots on the globe, ensconced in an enveloping leather easy chair in this wood-paneled haven of—what some would call decadence, I would say—spiritualism.

But my reverie abandons me as I ponder the lot of the souls wandering just beneath me in the park. For they cannot smoke their cherished cigars. They cannot sip their Manhattans. And it’s simply because the law won’t allow. Here, I am one of the privileged. I can indulge myself in these two ways after a day of work, which is something that not too long ago you could do all over New York City. Sadly, that is no longer true, and you need access to this club or one of a handful of places that still allow cigars.

Then I remember it is summer, and the weather and human ingenuity have conspired to vanquish draconian smoking regulations. There’s the hotel across from where I work that opens its rooftop to cigar lovers. There’s the pub down the street that’s created a patio in its backyard. And then, of course, there are the many tobacconists who, no matter what the climate, have welcoming lounges for those who could not otherwise find smoking asylum.

So I sit easier thinking of the retreats that allow us to pursue our passion and I raise my glass in appreciation of them. I hope you all have just places and cherish them. At Cigar Aficionado, we want to know about all such precious vanishing natural resources. Wherever you are in America, please tell me the places you have found to enjoy a cigar and a cocktail.

And follow me on Twitter @JackBettridge.

Comments   16 comment(s)

Christian August 2, 2012 9:55am ET

Nice Jack. GHR is a spot I've had the privilege of smoking at many times and the view and ambiance is a wonderful respite for the cigar and drink enthusiast. The Gansevoort rooftop is nice as well. I enjoy the style of Club Macanudo however I like the quiet calm Merchants cigar lounge has provided me. Although not as elaborate as the others I like the serenity it provides. Of course there are other cigar lounges in NYC, although much fewer these days however these are my go to spots.


JACK BETTRIDGE — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  August 3, 2012 8:40am ET

Thanks, Christian. Where is Merchants?


Christian August 6, 2012 11:19am ET

My pleasure Jack. Merchants is located at 1125 1st Avenue New York, NY 10065. I believe it's between east 61nd and 61st. Neely's BBQ Parlor is on the second level and Merchants on the first. As my friend said you can smoke pigs then cigars. I've been to Neely's and can't wholly recommend it as Hill Country on West 26th blows it away but Merchant's is low key and calm place for a smoke. I hope this helps! Christian


Frederick Amodeo — Bellport, New York, USA,  —  August 17, 2012 3:31pm ET

It is nice to know that there are places in New York that cherish those who cherish cigars. Club Macanudo is one of my favorites as well. Just spent a wonderful evening with my wife at the club 3 weeks ago. Also enjoy the Carnegie Club, De La Concha, Beekman Books, and the host of others in NYC. In Nassau County there is Hicksville Humidor and the Matador as well as others. Unfortunately, Suffolk County there are not too many lounges opened late. There is Goodfellas, Jim's Smoke shop and Smoke signals. One is private at night, the others not to late at night. Great job Jack and Christian. Good smoking gentlemen and glasses up to you both! Cent'anni!


Thomas DeLouise August 21, 2012 4:02pm ET

The GHR will always hold a very special place in my heart ... I was married there 12 years ago

Great, great place !!!


Tracy Smith August 24, 2012 3:59pm ET

Thanks, Looking forward to visiting the Grand Havana room on my next trip to NYC. I just recently visited Merchants and I was very please with the atmosphere. Very sexy and quaint. I also visited the Cigar Inn was impressed with decor and the staff was excellent. I live in Baltimore and I like to go to the Tobacco leaf in Jessup, Md. There is wall to wall leather couches big open space and you can always join in a debate about sticks with the crew that they call " the circle".


Tracy Smith August 24, 2012 3:59pm ET

Thanks, Looking forward to visiting the Grand Havana room on my next trip to NYC. I just recently visited Merchants and I was very please with the atmosphere. Very sexy and quaint. I also visited the Cigar Inn was impressed with decor and the staff was excellent. I live in Baltimore and I like to go to the Tobacco leaf in Jessup, Md. There is wall to wall leather couches big open space and you can always join in a debate about sticks with the crew that they call " the circle".


Steve Johnston August 29, 2012 6:05pm ET

In NYC, Club Macanudu, Carnegie Club, Hudson bar and books, merchants. In NJ the Montecristo Bar Lounge in Whipany. If your ever in PA, Leaf Cigar bar located at 90 Mort Drive in Easton Pa is one of the best if not the best Cigar Bar/Restuarant I have ever been too.


Mark Lubelsky — New York, NY,  —  September 10, 2012 10:28pm ET

A great cigar shop with a lounge is Wall Street Humidor in downtown Manhattan.


Dave Carter — Dallas, Tx, Usa,  —  September 17, 2012 9:51pm ET

I travel a fair amount - and am only now coming to appreciate the social mixing that takes place in so many cigar shop smoking lounges. At least for me, the diversity of conversation in these simple places - whether in Maumee, OH, Dallas, TX, Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, ... - is refreshing. Put a couple in the Senate and House office buildings.


Howell Bradford — Buford, Georgia, United States,  —  October 21, 2012 8:58am ET

Brad - Atlanta, Ga USA

From the moment you walk through the door at Highland Cigar Co. you will feel like part of a family. Warm leather sofas and high-definition televisions invite you to take your time and enjoy your experience. The bar specializes in scotches, cognacs, mojitos and martinis, however they are more than happy to provide you with whatever your heart desires to accompany your cigar.

Featuring over 40 different Scotch's. They are pround to have one of the Best selections of Scotch in Atlanta.

Highland Cigar Co. carries a wide variety of accessories that any cigar lover would be proud to own in their personal collection. Torch lighters, cigar cutters and high-quality humidors abound. You will also find traditional Cigar Store Indians, golf accessories and apparel in the retail area of the spacious lounge.


Williamsgvs November 21, 2012 12:24am ET

Mesa Grill El Paso Texas a great place for a good steak or seafood and a good cigar and have a good cocktail in a heated patio area.


Williamsgvs November 21, 2012 12:25am ET

Mesa Grill El Paso Texas a great place for a good steak or seafood and a good cigar and have a good cocktail in a heated patio area.


Bryon Henderson — St. Marys, Ontario, Canada,  —  January 27, 2013 6:44am ET

I also enjoy the Wall Street Humidor in downtown Manhattan. It's so relaxing.


James White — Chicago, IL, USA,  —  June 15, 2013 7:46pm ET

As much as I love Chicago, smoking spots like the ones mention is what we are lacking and its a shame; hell they dont even wants us to snmoke in cigar shops anymore.


Monica Faust — Houston, texas,  —  November 13, 2013 10:03am ET

I'm buying cigars online only, mainly through Duty Free Depot. Because you can't beat those prices with all these ridiculous taxes in your local stores. I couldn't keep supporting my classy habit of smoking cigars otherwise, too damn expensive.



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