Havana Cigar Shops
The biggest city in Cuba has a superb collection of cigar stores that sell handmade, premium cigars
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011
(continued from page 2)
There are a few comfortable leather chairs to sit and smoke, and a frequent visitor from the United States is known to drop off copies of Cigar Aficionado magazine.
El Aljibe Tienda de Tabaco
Av. 7 y Calle 24, Miramar
It’s not a Casa del Habano, it only has about seven types of cigars available by the stick and it’s very small, but the cigar shop at El Aljibe restaurant just might save your night. Say you fly into Havana on a Sunday, miss out on the Casa del Habanos and head to dinner at Cuba’s most famous restaurant. You’re happy to find smoking is allowed at the tables, but you just arrived on the island and you don’t have cigars for before (and after) dinner. Salvation awaits only steps away inside the shop.
The staff here is friendly, and while the selection is limited, it’s hard to go wrong. There were two unbanded cigars on a recent visit, a pirámide and a Churchill. I asked for the former. The manager took two from the tray, gave each a gentle squeeze to check for plugs, and handed me the one she liked best. It was priced at 3.60 cuc.
When I asked for details about the cigar, she told me it wasn’t made on premises, but rather by a cigar roller at the Comodoro Hotel. (I later asked said roller, and he denied making the cigars for El Aljibe.) Whoever made the one at El Aljibe, he or she knows the craft well, and the flavor was just fine. Will it be the best cigar you smoke in Cuba? Far from it. Will it make you smile because it just might be the best $4 cigar you’ve ever smoked? Maybe so.
The cigar shop at El Aljibe even has a little seating area in the back, but with all those tables in the restaurant proper (and all that succulent chicken) who would sit there? This is not a cigar shop you should visit just for the experience, but when you eat at El Aljibe, pop in and try the $4 house smoke.
AlsoCigar Shop at Romeo y Julieta (AKA H. Upmann) Factory
Belascoaín 852 entre Peñalver y Desagüe, Centro Habana
Cuba’s Romeo y Julieta factory is now serving as the temporary home of the H. Upmann factory and the cigar shop down the street from the fabrica is in the process of being transformed into a full-fledged Casa del Habano. This factory (operating as H. Upmann) is open to tourists, and said tourists need a good place to shop for cigars after leaving the factory, so Habanos is working to improve the quality of the shop.
It was OK in May during a visit, with a midsized walk-in humidor with a fairly sparse selection, focused on cigars made at the factory, from Montecristos to H. Upmanns and Romeo y Julietas and some Cohibas. There was a small bar, guayaberas for sale, but the rum selection was bigger than the cigar selection.
The shop is decent, but should be better once it becomes a Casa del Habano.
Cigar Shop at La Corona Cigar Factory
Av. 20 de Mayo y Línea de Ferrocarril, Municipio Cerro
This is the most disappointing cigar shop in Havana. Located next door to the La Corona cigar factory, the shop is small and soulless, with a limited selection. This shop is not meant for connoisseurs, but for tourists to grab a quick box or five-pack of cigars and a bottle of rum.
Walking inside is a bit of a running of the gauntlet, as cigar hustlers freely solicit counterfeits to anyone going in or out. Should you walk in when a bus packed with tourists arrives, prepare for an even worse experience as the shop turns into a subway car in New York at rush hour. A shop to avoid.
The Insider's Guide to Havana
- Havana: The Lost City of the Caribbean
- Havana's Cigar Factories
- Havana Cigar Shops
- The Hotels of Havana
- The Sounds of Havana
- Havana Restaurants
- A Walk Through Old Havana
- A Day Trip to Pinar Del Río
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