A cigar and a cocktail. That combination is elusive in many places around the country as no-smoking laws preclude table or bar service in areas designated as cigar friendly. That's largely the case in Los Angeles. Being able to order a drink while smoking a favorite cigar has become something of a quest hereabouts. Sure, there are some cigar shops that turn a blind eye if you bring a bottle, but that's not the same. This makes the Copper Lounge at the InterContinental, and its outdoor smoking area in the garden of the hotel, a breath of fresh air for the L.A. cigar scene.
A recent visit to the Copper Lounge led to the discovery that a Sazerac made with blueberry-anise bitters adds a refreshing twist to the classic cocktail. If a Sazerac is not quite your thing, the "Tokyo Cruise" is made with Iwai whisky, rosemary simple syrup, yuzu, orange, lemon and lemon peel before being mixed and strained into your glass. Still not convinced? There are 70 or more cocktails on any given day from which to choose.
The beverage menu describes the Copper Lounge as a "dedicated Bourbon inspired bar"—and the Bourbon list is extensive, numbering 49 labels. Scotch has the second-highest representation among whiskies on the menu, then some Cognacs and Armagnacs. In other words, lots of brown spirits that many cigar lovers will enjoy pairing with their smokes.
Another plus for the Copper Lounge cigar area is that you can get food from the bar's menu. The chicken gyoza (dumplings), chicken tempura with a spicy soy dip and kafta (Lebanese beef skewers) were welcome bites. For a full meal, get a table at Mari, the hotel restaurant with a largely Japanese menu.
The InterContinental recently expanded the area in which one can enjoy a cigar. Now, there are two main areas, both heated at night. One has tables and the other has seating on comfortable couches on the stone patio that doubles as a site for private events. When nuptials or a bar mitzvah reception are going on, the smoking area is closed, so call ahead on weekends to check.
Aside from providing a haven for the indulgence of cigars and libations, the real contribution to L.A.'s cigar scene is the Copper Lounge's location.
Century City is a wasteland when it comes to cigar-friendly spots. It's best known for a large shopping mall and the offices of entertainment business agents and PR firms. Big office buildings and high-rise apartment structures define the skyline. On the south side of the mall, you'll find Fox Studios. From the smoking area at the Copper Lounge, you can see the movie lots through the trees.
"Our guests love it," explained Scott Allen, who manages the lounge and restaurant at the InterContinental. "We get a lot of business travelers and tourists who use the garden a lot, but we also get a lot of folks from Fox and CAA (Creative Artists Agency) during the week." The weekends, he said, can be quiet—and relaxing—if no event takes over the garden.
"I really want to start a cigar and Bourbon pairing program here," Allen said of the Copper Lounge.
That will make the Copper Lounge an even better place to get away from the rest of L.A. and relax with your favorite cigar and a beverage.
InterContinental Los Angeles Century City
2151 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, California 90067
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
[UPDATE: The InterContinental Hotel has stopped selling cigars and is awaiting the renewal of its cigar-selling license. Guests are still allowed to bring and enjoy their own cigars in the outdoor areas of the Copper Lounge.]
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