The Menger Hotel sits on what is arguably the most famous piece of real estate in Texas: Alamo Plaza. Opened in 1859, just 23 years after the battle that inspired the unforgettable battle cry, "Remember The Alamo," the Menger is the oldest continuously operated hotel west of the Mississippi. The century and a half since its debut has been full of rich history—and full of cigar smoke.
In 1887 Menger's second owner, unsatisfied with the hotel's original bar, decided to replace it with a more dignified traditional English tavern. He dispatched staff to London, where they surveyed the famous House of Lords pub and recreated it in Texas. The renovation included a (then) staggering $60,000 in imported wood, along with French beveled glass mirrors and brass spittoons, which are still there today.
It was in the Menger bar, at a table the hotel still displays, that Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders for the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt returned as President, and so did many others in America's top job, from Ulysses S. Grant and Woodrow Wilson to George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Until a few years ago, when San Antonio adopted strict anti-smoking measures, you could light up inside the bar itself. But the Menger remains a smoker's oasis. It has a dedicated shop, The Humidor, a branch of the local family-owned Club Humidor chain. The location doesn't have a lounge, but in San Antonio public outdoor smoking is allowed and widely practiced. One side of the shop opens to a pedestrian zone off Alamo Plaza—and better yet, the other side opens into the hotel's large hacienda-style courtyard, an urban oasis of trees, flowerbeds and a fountain, where smoking is completely acceptable. It is also allowed at the hotel's other encircled outdoor space, the pool courtyard. Both areas serve a full selection of cocktails and libations.
The Humidor offers about 200 cigar choices—from brands like Davidoff, Rocky Patel, Montecristo and Ashton—along with a selection of cutters, lighters, humidors and more. Last April, the shop debuted the Zino San Antonio, a limited-edition release from Zino Platinum.
Club Humidor has four additional retail shops and lounges in the San Antonio area, including a location on San Pedro Avenue, which features the "Winston Churchill Lounge," a replica of Churchill's library.
The Menger Hotel
204 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205
The Humidor Fine Cigars & Collectibles
Open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.