I was standing outside One World Trade center, staring up at the night sky and trying to see the top of the tower: At 1,776 feet, it reigns supreme as the tallest building in the western hemisphere. You look up at it and feel impossibly small. Across the street I could see the glowing lights of the Davidoff cigar lounge; its facade part of the stylish hub of luxury shops and office buildings known as Brookfield Place, in the Battery Park City area of downtown Manhattan.
Touted as a Davidoff of Geneva Flagship Store, the 1,900-square-foot location is divided into three sections: retail area, walk-in humidor and cigar lounge. I shook hands with the Davidoff staff and stepped inside the humidor first. It's a sleek and modern walk-in, constructed from a mix of glass, copper and dark woods. Tobacco leaves hang from the ceiling, many of which have been stylized and cut out into designs and shapes—an installation by the Dominican artist Pascal Meccariello. Juxtaposed against the ultra-modern humidor, the hanging leaves evoke an otherworldly sensation: You get the impression you've wandered into some strange, avant-garde, tobacco-curing barn.
The humidor shelves are lined primarily with Davidoff branded products, with a few notable third-party exceptions (including Padrón, Arturo Fuente, My Father Cigars and Illusione, among others) and boasts a store-exclusive cigar, the Davidoff NYC Downtown Belicoso.
A hand slapped my shoulder and I turned around to see Robert Seise standing behind me. Seise is a longtime Davidoff employee who works the Davidoff store on Madison and 53rd, and was temporarily serving as manager of the downtown location.
"It's something else, isn't it?" Seise said, eyeing the humidor ceiling with a smile on his face. "Wait ‘til you see the cigar lounge."
He led me into the lounge, and I was greeted by a variety of leather couches and chairs, another art installation by Meccariello, a widescreen TV and sprawling overhead light fixture created by Dutch design firm Ontwerpduo. The lighting was warm, the chatter from the patrons soft and friendly and the hum of the TV was turned pleasantly low. It set the tone for the evening: Just another quiet night in the city, with good people, good cigars.
Seise laughed as he brandished a lighter and lit up a Downtown Belicoso for me. "The energy here is different," he said. "There's a definite downtown vibe."
We sat in a pair of plush leather chairs and talked for a while. I puffed at the belicoso.
"This is the after-work crowd," Seise said. "People come here to unwind."
I asked if people were allowed to bring alcohol into the lounge and Seise shook his head.
"It's not a bar," he explained. "But you can come in with your coffee or your soda, and it's a place where you can smoke, relax, read your newspaper and meet with friends and business colleagues."
Not a bad way to spend an hour or two before heading back into the action and haste of the city.
Davidoff of Geneva - Since 1911
225 Liberty Street Space 126
New York, NY 10281
(212) 897 - 2866
Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.