Cigar Aficionado

Beekman Bar And Books, New York City

Remember Beekman Bar And Books? It's back. And you can smoke.

The swank Manhattan lounge opened in 1993, near the start of the cigar boom, and closed in 1999 as cigar sales cooled. The lounge is back, at its original location on First Avenue, between 49th and 50th streets, and thanks to clever work by its owners, cigars are welcome—with a twist.

The New York City smoking ban prohibits opening a new cigar bar, or expanding an old one, so Bar And Books owner Raju S. Mirchandani and Beekman's managing partner (and mixologist) Ben Scorah turned to their legal team to find a way to puff in peace in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's antismoking New York. They came up with a special cigar room, down a hallway from the bar and lounge proper, with a ventilation system that whisks the smoke from your corona to the very top of the building. They also will keep employees out of the lounge. To enjoy a drink with your cigar, you must order it from the bar, or a member of the waitstaff, and take it inside the smoking room.

"Smoking in New York is a privilege," said Scorah. The cigar room, decorated with ornate bottles of rum, Champagne and Cognac, has two tables, and four additional seats by a rail. The tables must be reserved in advance.

The bar and lounge, which had its grand reopening last night, is decorated with dark woods, leather-clad seats and small round tables, all of which are surrounded by a library of antique books, the Bar And Books trademark. The bar features an array of fine cocktails and cigars for sale, the latter ranging in price from $8 (for a Partagas Purito) to $69 (for a Zino Platinum Crown Series Scepter Chubby Tubo).

The Bar And Books chain consists of three New York City locations (there is also one on Lexington Avenue, in the 70s, and a downtown location in the meatpacking district called Hudson Bar And Books) as well as two venues in Prague, Czech Republic.