Cigar smoking used to be an exclusively ‘gentlemanly’ activity, rarely seen outside of Victorian gentlemen’s clubs and usually paired with steak and a cocktail. Today, both men and women enjoy cigars in the same fashion (thankfully, now with proper ventilation). We profile the 10 best NYC cigar bars.
Casa de Montecristo, Second Avenue | Image Courtesy of Soho Cigar Bar
Located just six blocks down from the Queensboro Bridge, Cigar Inn is arguably the city’s most popular cigar spot, featuring a walk-in humidor that hosts one of New York’s largest and most diverse cigar selections. From 10am to 4pm, the space remains calm and quiet, with respectful older patrons and plenty of room. From 5pm until closing, Cigar Inn is usually packed with a younger, hipper crowd, house music, and high-energy atmosphere to match. They have a reasonable corking fee and one can freely order outside food at any time. Cigar Inn combines all elements of cigar culture under one enormous roof and makes the cigar-smoking experience affordable for anyone who’s interested.
SoHo Cigar Bar, New York | Image Courtesy of Soho Cigar Bar
Soho Cigar Bar
This relatively new spot is the successor to Circa Tabac, formerly New York’s oldest operating cigar lounge. Soho Cigar Bar features an elaborate Art Deco décor, a full bar with a brilliant gilded façade, ridiculously hospitable staff, and a menu that provides not just proprietor Lee Ringleheim’s family recipes, a large whiskey menu, and a wide cigar selection, but also whiskey and cigar pairings. Soho seeks, successfully, to reconcile the old with the new with a music selection consisting mainly of modern-classic acts like the Beatles. While the décor is old school, the clientele is anything but in terms of age; most patrons are under 30.
Looking for an alternative to Carnegie Hall? Head down 7th Avenue and take a left, and you’ll be in Andrew Carnegie’s closet. The Carnegie Club successfully pairs the sophistication of early 20th century nightclubs with the technological conveniences of the present day. It’s perfect for a Friday night out or for a romantic date during the club’s weekly Sinatra Saturday, which features a full band and singer. The menu covers all your basic needs, boasting a solid selection of cigars, cocktails, and appetizers. The club also books private events, so throw an old-world New York party that your guests won’t soon forget.
Of all the cigar bars in NYC, none feels more like a true members-only club (while remaining accessible to the masses) than Club Macanudo. Founded in 1996 just before the Cigar boom began to bust, Club Macanudo is the full package deal. Much like the Victorian gentlemen’s clubs of old, Club Macanudo offers patrons a place to dine, drink, socialize, do business, relax, and smoke all in the same place. The rich and comfortable interior, attentive staff, food and drink menu and cigar selection, hailed by the owners as ‘the most extensive in the whole city,’ have all been acclaimed by the likes of USA Today and the Food Network. Whether you’re there for a business meeting, an intimate dinner date, or anything in between, Club Macanudo treats you like a full member.
Sandwiched between two giant skyscrapers lies this deceptively small bastion of tradition. The Nat Sherman Townhouse is the embodiment of the ideals of high cigar culture; the ornate all-wood interior is meticulously polished at all times, all employees immediately greet you upon entry with a smile on their faces, a stogie in hand, and an ornate pocket square protruding from the breast pocket of their finely tailored suits. If you show up in anything less than a collared shirt, you can expect the occasional hairy eyeball. Women are welcomed openly, but the clientele is unmistakably majority male. Space is limited but the selection is top-notch, and the atmosphere is rife with respectful camaraderie.
Named after the man who invented the humidor, Davidoff of Geneva also operates its own chain of stores and lounges, with the Brookfield Place location being the newest. The interior design is as crisp, pristine, streamlined, and attractively modern as the new World Trade Center, which one can see from the lounge’s windows. Its strategic location inside Brookfield Place puts you right at the heart of Downtown Manhattan, where everything is at your fingertips. Professional employees greet you (adorned in tailored suits) and escort you into the humidor, where the cigar selection is comprised exclusively of high-end brands and real tobacco leaves hang from the ceiling just above your head. Welcome, fellow cigar smokers, to the 21st century.
Davidoff of Geneva acquired this age-old lounge in 2014, originally the independently-owned De La Concha, and then spent a year remaking the De La Concha lounge in its own image. The result is a strikingly modern lounge complete with all the amenities that one would expect from such a reputable company: knowledgeable and friendly staff, a high-quality and fully stocked humidor, and a comfy and relatively spacious smoking area. As an added bonus, Davidoff’s 6th Avenue location offers street views of a lively section of Midtown Manhattan; it is a block east of Carnegie Hall and three blocks south of Central Park.
Way uptown in a primarily Dominican section of West Harlem lies Papa Juan, an unexpected gem and cigar lounge. Beyond the simple wooden façade lies a cozy room filled with comfortable leather lounge chairs and LED televisions that run all channels of ESPN from opening until closing. Francis, the friendly and down-to-earth owner, can be seen directing clients towards his humidor, which is a comparatively small but rich treasure trove of mainstay brands like Padrón and the best of the up-and-coming brands such as Manolo Estate. The atmosphere is always friendly and welcoming, no matter what. It is also consistently exciting – there’s always a game happening, whether on ESPN or on the domino table, and everyone is invited to join in.
The third of three Bar & Books locations is renowned for its youthful yet relaxed atmosphere. Bar & Books on the Upper East Side’s Lexington Avenue thus strikes a most unusual balance between old and new; the walls of books, low-lighting, and smooth jazz music suggest more the appearance of an Oxford scholar’s study than a young folks’ hangout spot, yet it’s rare to find anyone older than 30. Despite the younger clientele, Bar & Books is markedly more chilled than the other two locations in SoHo and Midtown. Throw in a solid drink and cigar selection and a strategic location between Madison and Park Avenue, and you’ve got yourself a great weekend.
Don’t let the devilish address scare you away; this place is about as hellish as New York City is tropical. The Grand Havana Room indirectly asserts itself as the mother of all New York City cigar lounges. It’s a mere three blocks away from Rockefeller Center, and it offers breathtaking views of the concrete jungle. It boasts a full walk-in humidor and a restaurant with top-notch service. The Grand Havana Room, however, is a members-only establishment, so it’s somewhat shrouded in a veil of mystery. But never fear; all you have to do is become friends with Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Sharpton or any of the many other elites who hold a membership card, and you’re in.