Head South For The Big Smoke—The Big Smoke Miami

Cigar Aficionado

Spring in New York City

Spring never seems to come soon enough in the Northeast, especially after the recent long, cold, wet winter of 2009-2010. But last Friday, the day offered up not just spring-like weather, but the promise of an early summer. It was all blue sky and bright sunshine, and I was lucky enough to enjoy it all on the terrace of the Metropolitan Club, a venerable institution at 60th and Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park.

I had lunch there with Max Gutmann, the owner of the Casa del Habano franchise in Mexico, and a true standard bearer for the words, cigar lover. In the style of traditional New York clubs, gentlemen at the Metropolitan are required to wear a coat and tie. The room was busy, and the food was good, but as we sat drinking a wonderful 2001 Bordeaux, and reminiscing about old times in the cigar business, and about Mexico, the terrace beckoned through the greenhouse-like floor to ceiling windows.

There are more than a few places like this in Manhattan—terraces and outdoor spaces where, when the weather warms up, you can enjoy a great cigar. We’ve reviewed a few of the public spaces, usually in restaurants, where you can be sure that lighting up is allowed. But the city’s private clubs also accommodate their members whenever it is possible. Apart from the Metropolitan Club, others that I know about include the Yale Club and the Knickerbocker Club. And, I know of other clubs that have been reviewing architectural plans to see if they can pull off an outdoor space, with their smoking members in mind.

So when Max and I finished up our meals, we headed out to the terrace. It was still a slightly cool spring day, with some breeze to freshen up the patio’s space, but the sun was bright and the table just protected enough so that I warmed up very quickly. Max offered me a Montecristo Open, a Cuban cigar with a second green band on it. It’s designed to be a bit milder, and, according to Max, is aimed at a younger smoker who isn’t looking for a blockbuster smoke. It was delicious, but just as described—a mild to medium bodied smoke without a lot of power. In some ways, perfect for an outdoor setting where the breeze makes it a bit more difficult to savor every aspect of a cigar.

We sat there for over an hour, enjoying the panorama of Central Park South and Central Park West, with the tall apartment buildings and hotels, and the Time Warner Center, standing tall above the newly green treetops in the park. Thank God, the winter’s over.

"Dude, are you channeling Longfellow? Dickinson? Oh, the terrace "beckoned" did it? Yeah, anytime I'm with a fellow "cigar lover," the terrace -- or any appropriate smoking spot -- "beckons" to me to try the newest Cuban. Loudly, through "the breezes" that make it a bit more difficult to hearken the beckoning. Still, I do like the Metropolitan Club." —April 29, 2010 12:26 PM