A short drive from the tobacco fields of the Connecticut River Valley stands Mickey Blake's Cigars and Golf in Southington, Connecticut. The cigar shop and lounge, tucked just off a main road less than 1,000 yards from Interstate 84, looks small and unassuming from the outside, but beyond the doors lies a playground for lovers of the leaf.
Mickey Blake's looks like a typical cigar store at first, with a good selection of smokes, many of them boutique, in a clean and well-lit, walk-in humidor. To the left of the humidor is the public smoking lounge, with 1,600 square feet of smoking space. The lounge has several couches and tables and something quite unusual for a cigar shop: two golf simulators, each capable of putting you on one of 13 different courses. Management says the simulators are very popular during the winter, which can be particularly cold and snowy in central Connecticut. They also double as large-screen televisions.
As fine as the public lounge is, an even bigger section awaits, hidden from view. It's the 2,200-square foot members' lounge. This section has yet another golf simulator (reserved for members), private humidified lockers, poker tables, high-definition TVs and a wine cooler for members to store drinks. (Mickey Blake's is BYOB, and there's a well-stocked liquor store next door.) Membership is $50 a month, which includes discounts on cigars, the simulators and access to events.
Mickey Blake's opened in July 2011. Owned by partners Luis Rodriguez, Joe Colaninno and Marco Longo, the original idea was for a more modest creation.
"We never were in the cigar industry," said Rodriguez, who worked in construction before forming Mickey Blake's. "Originally, we wanted to open up a small store, but we said we needed something to set us apart."
The shop has understandably built a following. Not only are there 175 members, according to Rodriguez, but several cigar industry notables have made appearances at the store, and management claims that anchors from ESPN (headquartered in nearby Bristol) are frequent visitors, along with many of the sports stars they interview on-screen.
The inside is comfortable and inviting, considerably spacious and tremendously appealing. After all, what better way to spend a rainy or snowy day than by hitting a few golf balls while puffing away in comfort on a fine cigar?
Mickey Blake's Cigars and Golf
50 Spring St.
Southington, CT 06489
Monday to Sunday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
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