Twenty Years of Club Mac

Twenty Years of Club Mac
Guests were handed a special commemorative sample box of Macanudos upon entering the celebration.

The scene: a luxurious cigar bar in New York City. The year: 1996. A young editor with a head full of black hair is smoking a 50 ring gauge cigar.

Flash forward 20 years. The editor is standing in the same spot. His black hair is now salt-and-pepper. The cigar in his hand, a 60 ring gauge behemoth with a flat head and an ultra-black wrapper, is familiar to modern-day cigar lovers but would have looked entirely alien back in 1996. The cigar bar? Precisely the same as it was two decades ago.

It's hard to believe but Club Macanudo turned 20 last week. The luxurious New York City cigar bar, where you can drink, dine and smoke to your heart's content, threw a party for locker owners, General Cigar Co. brass and a group of guests to celebrate the milestone. Drinks were poured, a few speeches were given and cigars aplenty (including the new Macanudo Inspirado for some, and a CAO Flathead V660 Carb for me) were puffed.

I remember the opening party in 1996, the year after I started working at Cigar Aficionado. Club Macanudo was eye-opening: a gorgeous cigar bar with rich, dark mahogany wood, portraits of native Americans on the walls, a bar stacked high with fine bottles of spirits and segmented areas that made the space cozy and comfortable. Humidified lockers lined the walls, inscribed with names, famous and not. A huge mural took up most of one wall in the back room, with portraits of famous cigar lovers from the past and present, among them Sir Winston Churchill, the Cullmans (who ran General Cigar when Club Macanudo opened) and even Marvin R. Shanken, the editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado.

I've had many cigars and drinks in Club Mac (as we all call it here) over the years. Twenty years is a long time for any venture, especially one centered around hospitality, where tastes can change quickly and consumers often look to what's new and different. But at Club Macanudo, things look the same—and that's good. Club Macanudo is a comfortable, inviting place where your cigars have been welcomed for two decades. Why change what works?

Congratulations Club Mac on your anniversary. Here's to many more years of fine cigars.