As we started in 2018, Stogie Press gives an award to the best cigar lounge we visited in the year. Last year it was Tailored Smoke in Charlotte, NC. This year we visited 14 lounges and each one was unique in their own way. Keep in mind, this award is only for lounges we have never visited before. It is always hard to select the best, but one must be the choice. In order to make the selection we came up with a few parameters that help score a lounge.
- Cleanliness – how clean the shop and air is
- Humidor size and selection – is there a fine selection of both big and small brands
- Inclusiveness/Ambiance – is it friendly, inviting, and interesting, do the patrons welcome newcomers
- Hours of Operation – is it open 7 days a week, does it have extended hours on the weekends
- Attentiveness – how attentive and knowledgeable is the staff
- Events – are there regular events at least monthly with special deals
- Membership Program – do they have one and is the cost vs benefits valuable to the consumer
- Bar Selection – does the lounge offer a wide selection of beverages for sale
Of course, not all of these are equally waited, so we scored each on a scale of 1 – 5 and then added weights to them based on what we feel is most important. As you can see the highest weights went to the humidor (we go to shops to buy cigars) and the cleanliness (we like clean and orderly shops)
- Humidor 40%
- Cleanliness 20%
- Attentiveness 10%
- Inclusiveness/Ambiance 10%
- Events 5%
- Hours of Operation 5%
- Bar Selection 5%
- Membership 5%
The total a lounge could score is 100.
Of the 14 lounges visited this year, here is our top 5 that should be on your list to visit if you are in the area.
#1 – Cigar Life Shop and Lounge – Lakeland Florida
The Cigar Life Shop and Lounge in Lakeland, Florida receives the Stogie Press 2019 Lounge of the Year award. Cigar Life is first and foremost an immaculate lounge with a large, well apportioned and arranged humidor. The staff is top notch and knowledgeable about cigars. What really puts Cigar Life over the edge is how they run events. From displaying the featured brand a week before the event to the amazing raffle prizes beyond the normal swag most lounges offer they pride themselves in not only customer satisfaction but brand promotion. Owner, Mario Medina, is skilled in retail merchandising and it shows throughout his 3 year old lounge. Congratulations Mario and the whole Cigar Life team.
#2 – R & R Cigars – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
R & R Cigars is not just a shop or lounge, it is literally a cigar mansion. There are multiple themed rooms throughout the 3 story mansion and a sprawling outdoor patio. The humidor is extensive and you should have no problem selecting a cigar to meet your needs. They have a full liquor license and stock over 80 different beers and 150 liquor selections including some of the best scotch and bourbons to be had. They don’t have a formal bar but instead, offer table service where your drinks are brought to you. Father and Son team, Randy and Reagan Starner will do their best to ensure your visit to R & R Cigars is memorable.
#3 – Casa de Montecristo – Nashville, Tennessee
Casa de Montecristo – Nashville is a lounge that has an awesome laid back vibe to it. The service was excellent, from the bartender, waitress, and humidor attendants. The lounge is clean with ample seating and even the bathroom was spotless. The drink selection is extensive as is the cigar availability. This is a must stop if you visit Nashville. Casa de Montecristo also has a staff tobacconist in the humidor to assist you with your selections.
#4 – The Suburban Tavern & Cigar Lounge – Reading, Pennsylvania
The Suburban Lounge is just one of those places you will want to visit again and again. Housed in a century old building in Reading, PA, the Suburban offers not only a clean lounge with knowledgeable staff, but it also has an incredible fine dining tavern downstairs. What better way to enjoy an evening with friends then to eat an excellent meal and retire to the lounge for after dinner drinks and cigars. The lounge is friendly and the humidor is one of the largest in the area. They have a full liquor bar both in the restaurant and the lounge, so what ever you beverage of choice is, I am sure owner Gary Poltonowicz can fill your desire.
#5 – Smokers Abbey – Nashville, Tennessee
It is not every day that you walk into a cigar shop decorated with religious emblems, paintings, and artifacts which is owned by an ordained christian minister. That is the experience you will have at Smokers Abbey located in East Nashville, TN. The shop is owned by the burly and bearded Joshua Stump and yes, he is an ordained minister, tobacconist, and artist. This eclectic lounge is laid back, friendly, welcoming, with an informative staff and a wide selection of boutique cigars and craft beers. And hey, if you want to get married, Reverend Stump can handle that too.
Well there you have it, that’s our wrap for 2019. Continue to follow us here on Stogie Press as we visit more lounges in 2020.