The trappings of the good life have abounded on California's Monterey Peninsula for decades, from the casual summer cottages in Carmel-by-the-Sea (now selling for non-casual prices) to the standout wines produced in the area's vineyards.
The annual calendar is filled with cultural diversions for all tastes. February brings the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, while the Carmel Bach Festival and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance collector car show highlight the summer months. This September, the iconic Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates its 60th season.
Missing until recently was a spacious place to enjoy a smoke, as even the various high-end golf and country clubs lack a niche cigar lounge. That has changed now with the welcome opening of The Humidor in a building that formerly served as offices on Cannery Row. Owner David Wilcox had built a loyal clientele at brick-and-mortar shops elsewhere in the county, but wanted to take things to the next level.
"We seek to have a full range of offerings," Wilcox says. "We don't do a lot of bundled cigars, but the value cigars start at $8.95. We have more boutique cigars, Fuente, Padrón, a lot of Rocky Patel."
After browsing the humidor, customers can take their purchases into the lounge overlooking Wave Street. The rooms were professionally decorated by a designer who drew color inspiration from Old Havana, with tawny browns and brighter olive greens. The sound system was playing Afro-Cuban All Stars and Chucho Valdés as I enjoyed a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Principe Maduro.
The Humidor also offers a membership option called the Peninsula Club, which grants access to another suite of rooms, humidified lockers and monthly spirits or wine tastings focusing on the best of local vintners. In one room is a poker table—also called the dining table, depending on what is happening at a given moment. "Cigar smokers are very social," Wilcox chuckles. Food may be ordered in from the neighboring Whaling Station Steakhouse or The Sardine Factory restaurant.
Another sitting space, the nautical blue room, holds model ships, a fitting motif in this waterfront town. "A cigar is a mini-vacation," Wilcox says. "The membership is from all social strata. We have police officers and sheriffs and electricians, along with gentlemen who own small companies, and Pebble Beach bons vivants."
One of those gentlemen helped outfit one of the rooms with his collection of autograph memorabilia: signed photos from the likes of Dean Martin, Paul Newman, and Chuck Connors. Wilcox's wife crafted the eye-catching cigar box table lamps.
With 11 dedicated parking spots (a premium in this historic district by the famous aquarium) there's no excuse not to drop in next time you're in the area.
765 Wave Street
Monterey, CA 93940