The 4th stop on my Independence Day weekend Tri-State cigar lounge tour took me back to my home state and the greatest city on earth; NYC. More specifically – Manhattan Island. I truly love going home – yes Boston Jimmie was born in NYC and I have seen the changes over the years. I left NYC for Boston in 1981 but through the 1970s, I knew “The City” that no longer exists, as gentrification has occurred throughout the city, making it safer and even more beautiful.
This leg, of my cigar lounge trek, took me from my home base – Rahway, NJ – to the upper west side of Manhattan to visit the Harlem Cigar Room. To get there, my host for the tour, Daniel Nina of Sticks Cigars, decided it would be best if we took a train from Rahway to Penn Station and then Uber uptown. I would say that was a good choice, but no matter how you look at it, you get nowhere fast in Manhattan these days, so patience is in order.
Technically, the Harlem Cigar Room is located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood, which is part of the Greater Harlem area of the city. Situated right on Broadway and West 141st Street, it was a nice ride up the Henry Hudson Parkway along the west side, driving along the Hudson River.
Once we finally arrived, we met the owner of the Harlem Cigar Room, Felix Paredes, a handsome and gallant Dominican man. We actually met at Felix’s wine bar next door. We had a couple of drinks and then headed over to the lounge. If you have never been to a cigar lounge in NYC, you should know the tobacco laws in the city are tough. Cigar lounges are prohibited from selling anything other than cigars and cigar accessories. That means you can’t buy even a soft drink or water in the lounge, and of course no food for sale either. Of course you can bring your own in or order take out to be delivered. It is kind of a silly law. One other point, the city law states no cigar can be sold for less than $8.00. Go figure, eh?
The Harlem Cigar Room is situated in an old section of the city, settled way back in the 1600’s by the Dutch. The area has certainly seen all the ebbs and flows of NYC over the years. These days it is going through a new renaissance, bringing back the charm of the old neighborhood. One of those charms is the Harlem Cigar Room.
The Harlem Cigar Room
The Harlem Cigar Room is housed in a classic old brick building with the entrance framed by wood and a large wooden sign proudly displaying the name of the establishment. From the street, you walk down two cement steps as you approach a thick wood door that that opens up to a dimly lit room. As I entered it gave me the feeling of some of the old jazz clubs I spent time in, back in my college days, such as the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village.
There are three seating areas in the lounge. The first is to the right of the entrance in the front. It is small with a few chairs but cozy and quiet to have a private conversation. Moving further in you enter the main lounge area that takes up most of the establishment and has comfortable leather chairs, plenty of stand-up ashtrays, and has dim lights hanging off the original red brick walls of the building.
Further back is another small room behind a door that houses the lockers and additional seats, where you can have a meeting away from the noise of the lounge.
There are 4 flat screen TVs hanging on the walls, one of which runs a slide show of the events along with patrons and cigar celebrities that frequent the lounge. There is a single uni-sex restroom in the back corner that was kept clean to my liking. Just outside the restroom is a cabinet of cigar accessories ranging from travel humidors to cutters and lighters. The ventilation was keeping the lounge virtually smoke free for the numerous hours that I was there – so big kudos for that.
Moving back to the front of the lounge, just beyond the small sitting area, is the walk in humidor with a large glass door. It is well lit in contrast to the lounge itself. The humidor is not huge, but it does offer a decent mix of large brand and boutique cigars. One side of the humidor has cigars stored in angled back cedar cabinets, without their boxes. and the other side is arranged in a traditional way. Each facing is labeled with the cigar price.
When I asked Felix what the biggest selling cigar is in the humidor is, he smiles and said DBL! There is no doubt he is good friends with DBL Cigars Owner and fellow Dominican, Francisco Almonte. In fact, Felix and I met for the first time earlier in the year on a DBL Friends and Retailers tour in the Dominican. You can see Felix dancing in the tour bus in the following video from that tour. You may also see some of the other retail shop owners I visited on my Tri-State tour also!
I found the patrons of the Harlem Cigar Room warm and friendly and welcoming of engaging conversation. Even for a man with a Red Sox hat on, in the heart of Yankee town, they didn’t break my balls to much. You never know who might walk into the lounge, as the night I was there, Francisco Almonte from DBL Cigars and Billy and Gus Fakih from Artesano del Tabaco stopped in. We ordered in some food from a local restaurant and enjoyed cigars and tobacco education.
Like all fine cigar lounges, the night grew on and before we knew it, closing time was upon us. I would like to thank Felix for giving Daniel and I a ride back to Rahway, NJ or else we would have had to leave earlier.
A Cigar Chat with Felix Paredes
Harlem Cigar Room Walk Through
I would sincerely like to thank Felix for inviting me to his beautiful lounge, the Harlem Cigar Room, and for helping to sponsor my Tri-State lounge tour. Being back to NY in the summer was a real treat and I know, when I get the chance again, I will find myself back in Harlem to smoke some cigars and socialize with fellow brothers and sister of the leaf. It was a special bonus to see Francisco from DBL Cigars along with Billy and Gus from Artesano del Tabaco show up.
Contact and Hours
The Harlem Cigar Room is located at:
New York, NY 10031
You can reach them at:
- Phone: (212) 283-7272
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: harlemcigarroomnyc.com
- Facebook: Harlemcigar
The Harlem Cigar Room is open 7 days a week with the following hours of operation:
- Sunday through Wednesday – 11:00 am to 12:00 Midnight
- Thurs through Saturday – 11:00 am to 2:00 am