Where to smoke: Top cigar-friendly bars in the United States

Those who have never known the pleasure of enjoying a fine cigar with a 12-year-old Scotch while in the company of like-minded friends have not yet fully lived. What is even more of a compelling experience is when that group of friends is seated in comfortable chairs in a public venue where smoking is still allowed.

The rules may have changed, and a gentleman should always be considerate when indulging in a well-made, hand-crafted cigar – but you need not be relegated to the garage to enjoy a smoke. There are still a few rare indoor destinations which cater to that particular luxury.

Cigar Lounge at Best Cigar Prices

Any good cigar lounge will feature a full bar with a good selection of Scotch, and a bartender who knows how to make a good martini. It goes without saying that a good selection of cigars on offer should be part of the menu, and a friendly tobacconist who understands pairings will always make it worthwhile.

In what will be possibly the largest selection of cigars available in any cigar lounge anywhere, online retailer Best Cigar Prices announced a new state-of-the-art cigar lounge at their Drums, Pennsylvania facility. Slated for a September opening, the lounge will include smoke-friendly indoor and outdoor lounge spaces, a full-service cocktail bar, and best of all, access to the adjacent warehouse which holds 7,000 unique items from more than 600 top brands. Pairing menus will be available at the lounge, with recommendations for pairing cigars with particular brands of whiskey, craft beer and other spirits.

Lit Cigar Lounge at Snoqualmie Casino

Thirty minutes east of Seattle in Snoqualmie, the Lit Cigar Lounge in the Snoqualmie Casino is the area’s only premium cigar lounge, with over 200 hand-rolled cigars, a walk-in humidor and a great selection of top-shelf liquor and cocktails to pair with your cigar. The humidor selection is the best of the best, with everything from Montecristos and Romeo y Julietas, to La Gloria Cubanas, and for a special treat, Family Reserve 45th Anniversary Padróns. Equally impressive is the bar menu, which includes a custom-blended Woodford Reserve Bourbon created just for the Lit Lounge by the casino’s beverage director, who travels to Kentucky to Woodford’s distillery to create this limited blend just for Lit. The bar boasts an impressive collection of single malts, and if you can’t make up your mind, the Highland Park Flight – a half pour of 12, 18, and 25 year old Scotch will do the trick.

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If you’re there celebrating a special occasion and you want something that few other cigar lounges have, Lit’s bartender has the ultimate in decadence behind the bar – Louis XIII. You’ll want to enjoy some of that delicacy on its own before lighting up to take in the full aroma of the cognac, and then follow it up with a Cohiba.

Nicky Blaine’s in Indianapolis

It’s always fun to see a celebrity when you’re out, and it’s even more fun when you see them in a casual setting, enjoying their favorite cigar. The good news is that you don’t have to go to Hollywood – Nicky Blaine’s, near Monument Circle right in the epicenter of Indianapolis, Indiana, is a frequent celebrity destination, but it’s great for the rest of us, too. The name of the bar is reminiscent of Rick Blaine, the expatriate night club owner played by the legendary Humphrey Bogart – and the intimate, underground atmosphere at this Indy favorite evokes the same feel as Rick’s bar in the movie, but without the shady characters.

Nicky Blaine’s has an expert cigar sommelier on staff, and the bartender knows how to make a martini, the creation of which is rapidly becoming a lost art. Try the “Dean Martini,” a traditional, no-frills honest-to-goodness martini, made with Bombay Sapphire and dry vermouth, with a single olive. It’s the real thing. Nicky’s cigar sommelier keeps it interesting with a constantly rotating selection of cigars, including limited editions, infused cigars, and the occasional one-time rare find.

Rum Row and Rodriguez Cigar Lounge, at The Gates Hotel Key West

There’s nothing quite like Key West, Florida, former home of literary great Ernest Hemingway, a city that played a special role during the notorious days of Prohibition. At The Gates Hotel Key West, the Rum Row and Rodriguez Cigar Lounge lets you channel your inner Al Capone with a selection of specialty rums and rum cocktails inspired by the city’s unique history.

The drink to start with is their absolutely delicious “Up In Smoke,” made from Del Maguey Vida and aged Key West Raw & Unfiltered Legal Rum, with ginger, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice, served on the rocks. A nod to the cigar industry, Up In Smoke recalls the city’s one-time leading role in the production of hand-rolled Cuban cigars. The hotel is the only hotel in Key West with bottled rum from the city’s Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Guests can also purchase traditional, hand-rolled cigars from the oldest cigar manufacturer in Key West, Rodriguez Cigar Factory, to enjoy in the on-property garden.  The artisanal producer uses traditional Cuban manufacturing methods in developing its four distinct series of high-quality, hand-rolled cigars.

These great destinations, and the wonderful cigars and cocktails on offer within, represent a rare and special treat, and cigar and cocktail bars represent a growing and exciting trend. Departing from the cookie-cutter trend of look-alike sports bars, these destinations represent the cutting edge, each one bringing a special something to those looking for a unique experience.

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