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Civil Cigar Lounge, Washington D.C.

A Washington Monument for the Cigar Lover
Alejandro Benes
Posted: January 22, 2013

Perhaps no name better fits an establishment than Civil Cigar Lounge. Civility, a commodity in seemingly short supply on most days in the nation’s capital, is in abundance at this upper-northwest cigar store, bar and restaurant.

First, as should be the case, this is a cigar store. Premium cigars—and by that, I mean the best of the best—are displayed in the retail section in cedar trays that remind one of the those used by cigar rollers, except that these are inside glass cases. The troughs are lined with works of smokeable art from Fuente, Ashton, La Flor Dominicana, Tatuaje and Padrón, among others. And sure, your credit card is beginning to sweat a little bit because you want every one of these cigars and you know it. Just buy one, maybe an Illusione Epernay, and make your way to door number two, walking past the leather-tufted cigar lockers.

The bar and lounge at Civil are eye-popping, as is the entire place, including the restrooms, the walls of which are black-and-white images of smoke moving through the air.  Look closely at the wallpaper in the private rooms and you’ll notice the repetition of skulls. No detail is overlooked, including the glass wall behind the bar that gleams a soft red behind light wood slats holding the bottles of liquor.

Civil benefits from the use of “P.E.D.’s,” in this case, Puff Enhancing Décor, Design and Determination.

Civil is the realization of a dream many years in the making for John Anderson and Matt Krimm, the owners of Washington D.C.’s oldest cigar store, W. Curtis Draper. The determination was evident in just getting the lounge open in a DC neighborhood famous for having a neighborhood council that is less NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) than NOPE (Not On Planet Earth) in its attitude towards things like business development and smoking.

Interior, Civil Cigar Lounge, Washington D.C.
Premium cigars are elegantly displayed in cedar trays that are akin to the ones cigar rollers use in factories.
Civil is an expansion of the experience in smoking a cigar at Draper’s in D.C., across the street from the Treasury building. If you’ve done that, you won’t be surprised about the approach at Civil.

“It’s all about customer service,” explains Anderson. “We put in a system that changes 100 percent of the air every two minutes so that you’re not sitting in much smoke at all. Matt put a wine list together that is just amazing.” And obviously, they have the free world’s best cigars, ranging in price from about $5 to $30, with no markup for the privilege of smoking in the lounge.

Tall leather stools line the bar-top. Instead of the usual overstuffed leather chairs that you see in many tobacco shops that these days are necessarily doubling as lounges in many parts of the nation, Civil’s seating is comprised mainly of high-back burgundy leather chairs facing one another so that you’ll be able to commune with your friends. Order a Smoked Manhattan (Knob Creek Bourbon, Luxardo cherries instead of the traditional—and awful—maraschino, and a spray of Balcones smoked corn whiskey) and enjoy that Illusione.

The spirits list at Civil is too long to list, but has a single-malt selection from A (Aberlour) to Y (Yamakazi), a rum selection from A (Angostura) to Z (Zaya) and a bourbon list that is truly reverent.

Finally, the food. This is perhaps the most ambitious part of Civil’s offerings. Civil’s unique menu is prepared by Range, the latest creation of Chef Bryan Voltaggio, a massive restaurant that is essentially next door to Civil.

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Comments   2 comment(s)

John Gazerro — East Greenwich, RI, USA,  —  January 22, 2013 4:28pm ET

Draper's is a fantastic shop and their annual "Little Puff" is one of the best cigar events in the country. It's no surprise that Civil is such an impressive endeavor. I can't wait to see it. Best of luck to John and Matt!

The Nando Group LLC April 4, 2014 5:46pm ET

Civil Cigar Lounge is a great cigar lounge with great drinks and the food is great as well. I spend most of my evenings here while I'm in town for business which is one a week each month. My clients love this place and the owners really do take care of their customers. Matt & John are cool dudes, stop by and say hi and enjoy a cigar....
Nando Martinez from San Diego, CA

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