Sometimes it's not about the cigar. Sometimes it's about the cigar way of life. At The QG, formerly known as Quintessential Gentleman, in Baltimore, the cigar lifestyle is in expansion mode. Already equipped as a full-service grooming parlor—haircuts, massage, bespoke tailoring, etc.—QG offers the opportunity to put yourself through the rigorous paces of pampering. Then go have a cigar.
The QG offers spa treatments that include the word "paraffin" in many of the titles of the services offered. Manicures and pedicures are available as well as "handshake maintenance" for a mere $12. "A handshake can say a lot," the pitch on the menu says. "To a businessman, a well-groomed presentation is essential. Professional manicures will prevent hangnails, keep the cuticles healthy and help strengthen the nails. Finally, buffing will leave you with a professional shine." Sure. Who doesn't agree with that? There are all sorts of "waxing" services too. A one-hour table massage will run you $89; very reasonable by most urban standards.
The shop is the brainchild of Craig Martin, 42, who cashed in his retirement and opened the gentlemen's department store nine years ago just two blocks from Baltimore's Inner Harbor complex. Martin says he got the idea when he was "five or six years old" from "seeing a barber in a men's room at a men's club in New York" when his father took him along. Martin's goal at QG was to merge the best of the old with the newest equipment and technology.
Nine barber chairs provide customers with what Martin calls "upscale grooming." Another floor has an "Allen Edmonds (shoes) concept shop" along with select clothing, including Baltimore Orioles and Ravens logo belts. The tailoring shop will do your measuring, final fit and alterations. The suit is sent out for final construction, but it's all "U.S. made," Martin explains.
The cigar lounge is on the third floor and a membership, $75 a month, is required to enjoy it (the rest of QG is fully open to the public). For $30 per visit, though, guests can rent a cloth smoking jacket that is the pass for entry. Members wear velvet. There are currently 65 members with a capacity for 110. The lounge has about 20 overstuffed seats, TVs, a beer tap, golf and bowling arcade game machines, and refrigerators. Food can be delivered from nearby restaurants.
Right now, the lounge is BYOB, but Martin has plans to construct a "speakeasy" on the top floor of the six-story building that is slated to open late 2015. The décor of the cigar lounge is sort of rustic man-cave. A deer head has bowties hanging off the antlers. More importantly, the smoke management is excellent with several ventilating machines at work.
The cigar selection is very good. (I was happy to see a Punch Grand Cru in the humidor, not having had one in a long time.) Most of the big names are there. There are 54 lockers, each going for a one-time fee of $300.
QG offers a great way station when in Charm City. Sit and watch a ballgame. Maybe the Orioles coming back and beating the Yankees. Maybe the Ravens. Enjoy the smoking jacket you've rented for the day. Shop for some great shoes. Get a haircut and measured for that new suit. It's one-stop lifestyle at The QG.
31 S Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.