Cigar Aficionado

Where Do You Smoke?

Yesterday I had lunch with cigarmaker Rocky Patel, Las Vegas cigar retailer Michael Frey and New York City retailer David Kitchens. We took an outdoor table at Rothmann’s Steakhouse on East 54th Street and enjoyed the picture-perfect weather and the midtown Manhattan scenery while smoking cigars.

I’m a Rothmann’s convert. I’ll admit to not loving the restaurant the first time I visited several years ago, but my first taste of the Porterhouse for two changed my mind for good. In a city with a couple of exceptional steak joints, this steak is an attention-grabber, served on a plate loaded with juices from the rare meat. It’s a solid, large meal that can sate two people. (Although a golf buddy says he once polished one off himself.)

Even if you’re not a steak maniac, Rothmann’s policy toward cigar smokers is worthy of a visit. Management treats cigar smokers with class, and welcomes them at the small outdoor seating area out front. We ate, drank and puffed away without a complaint. Ten years ago there were plenty of places in New York that welcomed my cigar. Today there are few.

The pleasant cigar oasis, ideal weather and very good wine had us all in good spirits. Frey, an owner of Casa Fuente and other cigar stores in Vegas, said business was good despite the recent smoking ban. Kitchens, who runs the Davidoff shop on Madison Avenue (just steps from the steakhouse) said business was exceptional, despite the New York City smoking ban. And Rocky said he was coming off his best year ever.

I puffed my cigar and asked the question I’ve been asking just about everyone in the cigar business lately. Where are people smoking their cigars? If restaurants are out, if bars are smoke free, how can cigar sales be so strong?

Kitchens says people are smoking in cars. Rocky says they’re smoking in stores, with cigar shops becoming much more in many cities, adding lounges for people to not only buy cigars, but to sit and enjoy them.

So where do you smoke? I'd like to know.

"behind the garage in my backyard under a fruit tree in the corner in a comfortable beach chair surrounded by plants and a nice view of the sky talking and laughing with my best friend. " —January 22, 2013 22:08 PM
"It is incredibly difficult to find a place to smoke, especially in California. " —September 1, 2011 12:52 PM
"New restaurant opened last week, Shenandoah American Grill in Ashburn,Va.  Great restaurant with a cigar lounge called Skyline Lounge.  44630 Waxpool Rd.  Phone 703-858-7777, Thanks. Lance Smith Sent from my iPhone" —April 22, 2011 02:41 AM
"Here in Northern California, home to the politically correct, cigar lounges are few and far between. But there is a good one, Mission Pipe and Tobacco, in San Jose where I go occasionally when I want to get the skinny on the latest and greatest in the cigar world( it features dark panelled walls and deep, soft, leather easy chairs. Also, I can go to my favorite pub, Dan Brown's in Palo Alto, which has a cool, quiet outdoor patio where I can smoke when I want company. Mostly, however I smoke in my cigarden (just a small corner of the back yard is all it takes) and in my car.What I especially, enjoy, though, is fly-fishing the many streams and rivers of the awesome Sierra Nevada when trout season is open. (I can go almost every weekend now that the high passes are open).There is nothing more satisfying than sitting on a big bolder on a late afternoon in June, next to a deep mountain pool under towering snow covered peaks,contemplatively puffing on a smoke,trying to figure out what the trout will be dining on tonight.........DAMED mosquitos!" —May 10, 2007 20:47 PM
"The usual spots for me as well-- the cigar store lounges (a few nice ones here in metro DC), my patio, basement office, etc. I eschew the garage as a smoking spot. Gasoline, oil, polishes, thinners, and a host of other inflammables make that unwise in my case!As the weather has been so grand lately, I want to put in a word for a favorite spot to enjoy a peaceful smoke. That'd be "down by the river." In my case, I head to one of the parking areas along the George Washington Parkway. As The Parkway runs south of Key Bridge, the terrain flattens out, and there are wonderful views of the monuments, as well the activity on the water. I generally chose a spot as far away from the jogging path, and close to the river as possible to enjoy a cigar or pipe while taking in the sights. This river gives me water fowl and the Georgetown crew, as well as dinner cruises, the occasional kayaker, and the DC Ducks (think amphibious landing vehicle, made over to carry tourists). But most any river will do-- at least one that doesn't smell too terribly bad. Twenty five years ago, during my weekly commute home from school, I used to sneak around the side of the Hoboken train station and park myself on one of the old pilings to have a smoke while taking in the view of Manhattan. I understand that the station (as well as the rest of Hoboken, apparently) has been rejuvenated, so that may no longer be an option. Still, the Hudson must offer a few other likely spots, or perhaps the East River? Can you New Yorkers smoke on any of the Ferries? That might be nice. " —May 10, 2007 20:45 PM
"Misguided, Frank.You mean like believing a 44-year-old man can be the savior of the season.Nice job by Suzyn Walman on the broadcast this past weekend, who sounded like a carnival barker introducing the bearded lady who can bench press 500-pounds." —May 10, 2007 13:58 PM
"For those who might be coming to northeastern PA and need a place to smoke, I dug up the websites for the establishments in my previous post:▪▪▪▪▪▪ Pattie's Sports Bar: no website but they are located at 65 West Hollenback Avenue, one block off of River Street near Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Valet parking near the side entrance, self-park in lots in the front and back.Sorry to say, but Scranton is a cigar wasteland now except for the lounge at Steamtown Cigar downtown, which doesn't quite keep regular hours but can generally be expected to be open on weekday evenings and around lunchtime (give or take) on weekends. All of the above information is subject to change according to the whims of our elected officials. " —May 10, 2007 13:56 PM
"I smoke on my deck, in my car and in the cigar lounge at City Tobacco in Edwardsville, PA, which is just outside of downtown Wilkes-Barre. Most of the regulars keep lockers there so we don't have to waste a minute of our lunchtime smoke breaks; instead of looking for a cigar and waiting in line to pay, we just pop open a locker and light up. Granted, it only saves a minute or two, but these days, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. There are some cigar friendly restaurants nearby as well:Gelpiaz in Kingston, bless them, still sells cigars at the bar and hosts cigar dinners in a separate dining area upstairs. You can still smoke cigars at your table provided it's late in the evening, but it's best to ask before lighting up. On any given night, you can find smokers at Bistro Bistro, also in Kingston. The maitre 'd, however, is notably hostile and told us one night that she can't wait for a smoking ban. Luckily, the owner can sometimes be found lighting up at the bar. Grotto Pizza in Wilkes-Barre is very cigar friendly in the bar, which is large enough to accommodate regular cigar dinners for 50+ people. Grotto has multiple locations in several states, so check before going because not all of their restaurants have the same policy. Pattie's Sports Bar in Wilkes-Barre actually built a separate area, the Fumo Room, for regular cigars dinners. And Arena Bar and Grill in Wilkes-Barre is a cigar lover's oasis with a fully-stocked humidor (though it's mostly mild, mass-market stuff like Ashton and Romeo y Julieta), separate smoking rooms in the back, a large deck, and three or four booths in the bar area where cigar smoking is not only allowed, but encouraged. Once, a large group of us lit up in what was technically a non-smoking area and when someone finally complained, the staff politely offered to move us out to the deck to finish our cigars so as not to inconvenience us too much. For a moment, I thought it was 1993 again." —May 10, 2007 13:54 PM
"Dave, So far great job on the blog section. Please keep it going. Make sure you get all the other editors to responds as often as you do as it's what makes blogs work. Thanks for all you hard work on making CA the best." —May 10, 2007 13:32 PM
"The back deck / porch is always a great option, and one that I use frequently, either with cigar smoking friends, or alone. Living here in the Northeast though, outdoors is not really viable option during the winter months(unless it's in the hot tub in the backyard - with some JW black), so it is great to have the comforts of the friendly sanctuary of Club Perfecto and Smoke Signals. These two lounges are not merely a few chairs and ashtrays, but lounges that were thoughtfully put together with casual comfort for the cigar smoker. Large leather chairs and couches, plenty of table space with a variety of reading material (Smoke Signals even has a library area with a book collection), multiple big screen tvs(Yankee games are a staple @ Club Perfecto, much to the consternation of the few misguided members who are Sox fans), tournament size custom poker table and custom dominoes table(@ Club Perfecto). Club Perfecto has a liquor license and full bar, and Smoke Signals has a full coffee / espresso bar, soft drinks and BYOB policy.But the best aspect of these members only lounges? The fraternity of cigar smokers to enjoy the company, conversation, camraderie, and the cigar experience with. On many levels, I consider it somewhat Tribal. Being part of these Cigar Clubs has taken what was initially a big negative (legislation) and turned it into a very rewarding positive. It has been a significant enhancement to what was already a great source of pleasure." —May 10, 2007 12:40 PM
"...and I am definitely looking forward to smoking at the new Nat Sherman when it opens up. I try to sepnd my lunch break there on Fridays.Dave, not sure if you get out to Jersey much, but if you are thinking of making a trip, I encourage you to come to Fume. I am sure the guys there would be amped to see you walk through the door." —May 10, 2007 10:12 AM
"Dave, I really think that smoking with a friend really makes the experience that much better. It's tough to get into the city and smoke, so I usually frequent the lounges in Norwalk, or we use my porch for larger herfs. The weather is finally great, so there'll be more herfs in the future! Smokin' in the car, though, you can't really enjoy the cigar, as it's pretty difficult to pick out the subtle undertones at 45 m.p.h.!" —May 9, 2007 23:10 PM
"When the weather is great, we [my neighbors and I] enjoy one of our three backyard patios while watching/listening to the 'game' of the moment or music depending on the mood...When the weather gets too hot, too cold, rainy, or windy; the local shop is only a couple of miles from the house; and, smoking while watching old movies, sports, or whatever is encouraged..." —May 9, 2007 22:34 PM
"Great responses so far. Robert, I think you raise a good point about the garage being lonely. All these smoke bans make it hard to smoke with a friend. Sheldon, I don't blame you for being irked at the hypocrisy of your local government. I think I'd have to move out of Calabasas myself. Tanner, you and I frequent the same smoking lounges. John, glad you're enjoying that Bolie RC.Any more places to smoke? I'm not such a fan of smoking in cars myself." —May 9, 2007 21:49 PM
"David,I've been to Davidoff cigar events at Rothman's, and dined there (I used to work a couple of blocks away at Citigroup Center), but never knew about the cigar-friendly outdoor tables. I'll be looking at the forecast and making a reservation.My new favorite spot is Patroon on 46th, because it is across the street from my office, they don't make you buy cigars, and girls actually go there! (Not that I'm looking, but it makes a nicer atmosphere) I'm a member at Club Macanudo and used to go there a lot. Bob's untimely departure has sort of soured me on that place, so much so that let me warn everyone that they don't actually humidify the lockers anymore (left two digital hygrometers in the locker, both read 48% last time I checked). Membership gets me a table when I want and no cigar purchase minimum, and that's worth the annual price. Carnegie Club is great except for the cigar purchase cover charge. I prefer my own cigars. I've never smoked in a cigar store, even when I used to frequent them. I have a cigar smoking room in my basement at home where I'm writing from now and enjoying an 06' Boli RC based on your suggestion - the best young cigar I can remember - better than even young Cohibas. I only wish you could have recommended them in an email to only me so they would be a little cheaper!Cheers,John" —May 9, 2007 20:27 PM
"I live in Calabasas, Ca. where smoking in public is not allowed. I enjoy my cigars in the backyard on a chaise lounge or on the patio at the table. I also enjoy our front porch. It's covered and my wife made a little cigar lounge there for me and a couple of guests, with some rattan furniture, a sette' and tabel with two chairs and an end table with a lamp. It's perfect when the weather isn't. I have access to the TV, radio and stero there. I enjoy looking at the back issues of Cigar Aficionado or the Cigar Insider. I have every issue that has ever been published, and it's fun to go back and read the older issues,especially the ratings and out of the Humidor, the content is still right on. David, I have an issue to ask you about; What I don't understand, smoking is illegal in our little city but all the stores still sell tobacco products and collect city taxes when tobacco products are sold. I think if smoking is illegal in our city, the local governing powers should not be allowed to tax the tobacco products since they can't be used here. What would you do if you lived here?" —May 9, 2007 19:59 PM
"I tend to enjoy my cigars while driving. I spend a significant amount of time in my vehicle, and find the hour drives a great time to enjoy a cigar. I am also being productive, which is a nice bonus. I also enjoy cigars on my deck, sandbar, or on the rare occasions with a cigar smoking friend.I have also enjoyed cigars at Ruth's Chris Steak house, which is very cigar friendly indeed. I highly recommend everyone try RCS, its great.I envy you guys that have a significant number of friends that enjoy the hobby of cigars. Its a hobby that is best enjoyed with another regardless of where you smoke!" —May 9, 2007 19:32 PM
"This is a great topic for us living if the anti-smoking capital of the world - California. I live in Los Angeles so my options are basically my car with my windows rolled up parked with the egine turned off with no one else in the car. Any outside place is pretty much illegal or scouled upon. My garage is safe but it gets pretty stuffy and lonely. There are a couple shops but not very many close by. It's tough. When I travel for business, it's much easier. I do seek out shops and restaurants that permit it but it is getting more difficult. For the most part is is at home or on my patio. Thanks for asking." —May 9, 2007 17:28 PM
"Well, I enjoy the lounges most, myself. Most bars don't take those patrons under 21! I usually smoke at M&M in Norwalk, and I've been to (but haven't smoked at) Club Perfecto down the street. In the City, I always make sure to go to Davidoff (some of the nicest staff in the city), and the Barclay Rex down the street. Most of the people in the stores are very passionate about cigars, and love talking about them. If I can't find time to get there, the car always suits me. But, my vote is with the lounges." —May 9, 2007 16:00 PM
"That's three so far for smoking lounges in cigar stores..." —May 9, 2007 14:07 PM
"David, you certainly have a knack for touching on the keynote topics for the cigar smoker of today. With the rapidly narrowing choice of venues in which one can enjoy a fine cigar without being in violation of Clean Air laws (never mind the ever-present beratement of anyone else not smoking cigars), I know it has definitely changed some of my personal smoking habits. It still seems ridiculous to me that laws were passed banning smoking in bars in New York(as well as many other states). It is understood by consenting adults that both smoking and consumption of alcohol bring certain health risks over the long term, yet, as these products are legal to purchase and consume, it seems that legislation keeps tripping over it's own feet, and we keep getting "knocked around". Smoking & Drinking just "go together". I consider myself quite fortunate to be friends with Ron and Brian Shapiro, and that Ron and Brian took such a proactive stance to Connecticut's smoking legislation a few years ago, in creating a members only smoking lounge for friends and clients right on the premises @ Cigar Factory Outlet in Norwalk. Club Perfecto has become a thriving social center, with an eclectic group of members (perhaps I should say cast of characters?), and we are grateful benefactors of our fortuitious friendship with the Shapiros. I am doubly blessed, because through my friendships forged within Club Perfecto, I came to meet, know, and become friends with Scott and Ray @ Smoke Signals in Port Jefferson, NY(and a card holding member). Both Smoke Signals and Club Perfecto offer Cigar Aficionados comfortable sanctuary where we can enjoy the pleasures of great cigars and great camraderie. Finally, with my extreme commuting(Suffolk Cty, LI to Fairfield Cty, CT Mon-Fri) I have smoking solitude built into each day, morning and evening. I consider this to be a benefit to what can be an arduous trip, as it starts my day off pleasurably, & I wind down the end of the day, indulge & decompress." —May 9, 2007 12:11 PM
"I've become a regular at Fume in Montclair, NJ. Awesome place -- loved it so much me and two of my buddies bought a locker there. We meet monthly and rate cigars. On any given night, the place is packed they have two flat screen televisions, a huge poker table, and a top of the line cigar selection. I was there last night (a Tuesday) and the place was packed, both inside and outside. When I am not there, I sit on my deck with my wife and nice glass of rum. I can't lose either way." —May 9, 2007 10:02 AM
"I tend to smoke in cigar store lounges. However, some of these shops have closed so still hard to find a place to smoke a cigar. There are still a few hotel bars in PA that allow cigar smoking but that may change as well. Smoking out on my deck in the warmer months is another favorite spot." —May 9, 2007 08:46 AM
"I too live in California, the anti-smoking capital of the universe. I spend most of my time smoking on my front porch. We are fortunate in San Diego to have great weather, most of the time. So, smoking outside is great here. There are a few places / smoke shops to smoke. Liberty Tobacco is a great place, with both indoor and outdoor smoking. They also have a fine selection of cigars." —May 14, 2007 19:15 PM
"In our area almost no bars or restuarants will allow cigars. So a great place for my cigar has born some good ideas. I smoke in my truck, On my patio with a few buddies. Myself and a few friends on the block hangout at Jim's pool (neighbor across the street)in the evening and share some wine, or rum, or scotch and a great smoke or two. Whether at Jim's place or my place the wives enjoy their wine, the kids run around and play hard, and the Dads enjoy great cigars, drink, and good for everyone! My wife *gotta love her for this* is refitting my home office with a flat screen and new furniture & fans so I can enjoy a good cigar in there and watch the game." —May 12, 2007 22:21 PM