Cigar Aficionado

A Night At Club Macanudo

Since I’m a suburban resident, I don’t frequent the cigar bars of the city very often after work hours. But a friend of mine was recently in town, and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He suggested we meet at Club Macanudo one night this week. I’ve been there are few times over the years, but I had forgotten what a pleasant place it is.

I turned the corner on 63rd from Madison Ave. My first thought was, “I’m on the wrong street." But a few more steps, and the tall wooden doors with the small brass plaque came into view, understated and elegant. As soon as I swung open the door, I was met with that sweet aroma of fine handrolled cigars being smoked, and having been smoked for years in the same space. I walked into the first main room, where floor-to-ceiling cigar lockers loom over the chairs and cigar counter. I quickly checked my bag and coat, being sure to pull my cigars out of the briefcase, and headed into the bar.

It was early, but the bar seats were already filled, and the bartender was busy. The room was also packed, and the noise level was already high for a pre-six o’clock crowd. Victoria McKee, the General Cigar executive who manages the property now, was there and welcomed me and my friends after she finished up a CNBC interview. Yes, a TV guy was there checking into the state of cigars in America. One of his questions was: Are cigars recession proof? That’s clearly a sign of the times. We all believe they are, don’t we? Are you going to give up your cigars, or a new pair of shoes first? My shoes have a lot of good years left in them.

I pondered the possibility of an economic downturn as I kept sipping on my glass of Montecristo rum on the rocks, one my favorite drinks with a cigar. I had chosen a Stradivarius from the house cigar list, partly because I’d never smoked one. My friends enjoyed the Davidoff Millenniums that I had brought along for the occasion.

After a round of drinks, the group my friend had gathered together went into the large back room where there are tables and chairs. We ordered up a sampling of appetizers from the menu; fried calamari, coconut shrimp and spicy lamb chops. The first bottle of wine was a nice Bouchaine Pinot Noir, and we followed that up with a Ravenswood Zinfandel, which went better with the appetizers.

I left the group around 8 o’clock to catch a train home, but the party went on for a while longer. As I walked out onto the sidewalk, I thought how sad it is that the Nanny Police who are trying to run our lives don’t see the benefit in having places like Club Macanudo for those who want to go out, have a cigar and some good food, and share some time with their friends. Shame on them.