In April, Wall St. Humidor joined the ranks of other uniquely New York lounges consigned to memory like Velvet Cigar Lounge in the East Village, Beekman Bar & Books in Midtown East, JR Cigars in Midtown, and Merchants NY Cigar Bar on the Upper East Side. If you didn’t hear about the closure, that’s because the only evidence of its closing is its sudden absence. The website is down, phone disconnected, and a ‘for sale’ sign hangs above the entrance.
In fact, if you’re a NYC cigar smoker and haven’t heard of Wall St. Humidor at all before, don’t beat yourself up. For most of the last ten years the two-story lounge was only known by a smaller inner-circle of cigar enthusiasts and FiDi workers, and one can only guess this was one of the factors that led to its closing.
The demise of Wall St Humidor is sad for a few reasons. First, the main floor, though a bit on the shabby side, was very large and had plenty of seating. And although the staff had a well-earned reputation of being inexplicably rude to newcomers (a reputation I had proved to me on two occasions), it was still a quiet refuge where cigar smokers could pick out a good smoke and take a quiet break.
For those that spent time at the place, what may be missed most of all is the downstairs lounge, which was, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful private lounges in the city, with a baby-grand piano, modern interior, private member lockers, and much more. Losing that room is sad for the entire city, because it marks the end of one of the few remaining rooms where everyday citizens can sit down, light up, and talk about issues that really matter.
We can hope that this is where the sad trend of cigar lounge closings ends, but with ever more stifling city ordinances around anything tobacco, and new federal laws (current and future), the list of closings will likely only grow in the next decade.
2018 was a fantastic year for new releases in the cigar industry. We saw some excellent portfolio additions at major companies like General Cigar and Altadis, as well as some very good boutique releases (see our Top 10 of 2018 here).
But, it’s a new year, and that means there is an internet’s worth of people wondering what the best new cigars are to smoke in 2019. We’ll be adding new cigars to this list as we review them, but for now, here are some of our all-time favorites which you should drop everything to smoke.
1. Aging Room Pura Cepa
Once again, Rafael Nodal of Aging Room has hit the ball out of the park. The Aging Room Pura Cepa makes the list of best 2019 cigars with notes of smoky wood that’s augmented by light chocolate, cream, floral, and leather notes. Impeccably constructed, this cigar achieved a score of 90 and we highly recommend it.
Box Price: from $234
Buy the Aging Room Pura Cepa from Famous Smoke Shop here.
2. Macanudo Inspirado Red
Macanudo is not a brand that we typically recommend, but parent company General Cigar Co has been on a tear with this brand over the last couple of years, most recently with the Macanudo Red. On the strength scale the Red falls right on the medium side of things, with bright flavors of cinnamon, oak, coffee, and toasted bread.
Box Price: from $120
Buy the Macanudo Inspirado Red from Famous Smoke Shop here.
3. Romeo San Andreas
One of the newest cigars from Romeo y Julieta, the San Andres features the legendary San Andres maduro wrapper, known for rich, robust flavors. With the Romeo San Andres, expect dark notes of earth, barnyard, dark cherry, chocolate, and pepper.
Box Price: from $168
Buy the Romeo San Andres from Famous Smoke Shop here.
4. Joya de Nicaragua Cinco Decadas
The Joya de Nicaragua Cinco Décadas presents a flavor profile that no JdN fan could miss: dark oak and charcoal, creamy cocoa, leather, and light spiciness. What Cinco Décadas achieves is to take the JdN flavor profile that we know and love and elevate it into the realm of art. We know that is high praise, but it is true, particularly given the cigar’s sheer complexity and balance. Highly recommended, and a no-brainer for a top cigars of 2019 list. You can read our full, 93-point review here.
Box Price: from $152
Buy the Joya de Nicaragua Cinco Decadas from Famous Smoke Shop here.
5. Gran Habano Blue In Green
The newest from Gran Habano, the Blue In Green is one of the best mild-bodied cigars in recent memory. The cigar blew us away with great construction, cool smoke, and notes of toasted bread, coffee, and light spices. Highly recommended for new, occasional, or veteran cigar smokers.
Box Price: from $120
Buy the Gran Habano Blue In Green from Famous Smoke Shop here.
6. Warped La Relatos
Warped Cigars is a boutique brand that quickly developed a reputation for blending tremendously complex and enjoyable cigars. La Relatos (“The Stories”) is a revivification of one of the original warped releases, and it is damn good. A real connoisseur cigar, it astonished us with its notes of deep chocolate, baking spices, nuttiness, and perfume. Easily one of the top cigars of 2018, and will likely retain that position in 2019.
Strength: Medium to Full
5-Pack Price: from $42
Buy the Warped La Relatos from Famous Smoke Shop here.
7. CAO Nicaragua
You might know CAO as the brand behind cult classics like the “Brazilia” or the “Italia.” After resting on its laurels for a few years, the brand step forward again with the CAO Nicaragua. By our estimation, they nailed it. The cigar has consistently excellent construction, and features rich, complementary notes of cocoa, espresso, and leather. If you want a crowd pleaser, look no further.
Box Price: from $105
Buy the CAO Nicaragua from Famous Smoke Shop here.
8. Joya Silver
Joya de Nicaragua makes the list again with the Joya Silver. This is a cigar for the full-bodied cigar smoker – the veteran who wants more flavor and isn’t afraid of spice. Like other cigars on this list, Joya Silver is expertly constructed, so you won’t be dealing with any over-packed cigars with tight draws. From a flavor standpoint, Joya Silver delivers full bodied notes of leather, ground black pepper, and oak, with sweet balancing notes of dark cherry and creamy espresso.
There’s no other way to say it, Blind Man’s Bluff from Caldwell Cigars is a damn sexy smoke. Besides an obviously cool look, the cigar delivers an excellent medium to full bodied profile consisting of charred oak, earth, leather, and cocoa. Layered underneath are balanced secondary flavors of stone fruits and lemon peel. Definitely a smoke to try if you haven’t already!
Strength: Medium to Full
Box Price: from $140
Buy the Blind Man’s Bluff from Famous Smoke Shop here.
10. Diesel Whiskey Row
Diesel Whiskey Row is one of the few barrel-aged cigars on the market that we can truly recommend. While many cigars that utilize barrel aged tobacco deliver overly sweet, simplistic profiles, Diesel Whiskey Row delivers tons of complexity and bears the hallmarks of the Rabbit Hole Bourbon barrels its tobacco is aged in. If you are looking to branch out into a new experience, and can handle full-bodied cigars, this is one to pursue.
Box Price: from $150
Buy the Diesel Whiskey Row from Famous Smoke Shop here
So there it is, our top 10 cigars to smoke in 2019. As mentioned before, we’ll be updating this list as 2019 releases are made available and we have a chance to review them.
One final note – for our purchase links, we’ve linked to Famous Smoke Shop, which we believe to be the best online cigar store currently in existence (read more on that here). If you’d like to support our work, be sure to use this link to purchase!
Is there a cigar missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!
Spending a week in Havana with all the that there is to appreciate and explore is easy to do. Since I was only staying for a few days however I needed to make them count. With my driver and translator with me I set out to the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba to visit local tobacco farms with my main stop being the renowned Robaina Tobacco Farm. Alejandro Robaina was a famed tobacco grower who’s tobacco was so prized that in 1997 he was awarded a brand named in his honor called “Vegas Robaina”. Sadly Alejandro Robaina passed away in 2009 although his grandson Hiroshi continues with his growing tradition and legacy. If you’ve never smoked a Vegas Robaina cigar you should as they can be wonderful however do not think you are smoking a cigar directly from the Robaina Farm. This NOT a single estate cigar. It is merely a blend from many farms created to have a distinct flavor profile for the brand “Vegas Robaina”. This was another reason I was really looking forward to visiting and possibly having the chance to smoke a Finca or “Farm” cigar from the actual Estate.
As you drive up the dirt road to the farm you see a large overhanging sign with the words “Alajandro Robaina 1845” clearly noting the farms history.
Upon entering we were greeted by a guide who explained the history of the farm and Alejandro Robaina’s legacy. As we walked we were shown the acres of tobacco growing in the field as well as a special plot of seeds beginning to grow. We were told this plot was for something they were still unsure of how it was going to be used or quite possibly they didn’t want to tell us.
After seeing the tobacco as it was growing our next stop was the curing barn where tobacco is dried and cured after it is harvested. The tobacco is hung from the barn as seen below.
If you have never visited a tobacco farm before seeing the process firsthand gives you an appreciation of the time and care involved in creating this craft product. Our guide highlighted pictures of the various stages of the tobacco process and the journey it takes from seed to cigar.
As part of the tour a cigar roller was in the barn rolling a fresh cigar. I was fortunate enough to be the one who was gifted the smoke as it came off the table. As I stated earlier the brand Vegas Robaina is a blend from various tobacco farms used to create the flavor characteristic of the name brand. The cigar I was given was probably the truest expression of a cigar from Alejandro’s farm and his tobacco.
Wrapped in newspaper to aid in drying the fresh tobacco before smoking, a true Robaina cigar:
Next we were taken to the dining area where events are held and an homage to Alejandro is purposefully represented.
The last stop was the famous rocking chair where Alejandro Robaina was said to sit and smoke. I can only imagine the decades of contemplation and reverence that was put into each harvest day after day year after year. As I headed off in the early afternoon to my next adventure I left feeling a newfound appreciation for the cigar making process as well as how respected Alejandro was in his homeland and the world.
August of 2015 saw Papa Juan open up their second location, situated just a block away from Yankee Stadium and its two subway stops. It’s a big relief in the context of Mayor DeBlasio’s continuation of his predecessor’s anti-smoking crusade. At long last, Yankee aficionados no longer have to settle for standing on the curb and enduring dirty looks to enjoy a pregame, postgame (or both) stogie. Hallelujah!
It’s a perfectly mild Saturday night in October, the kind of night where the staff fold back lounge’s glass panels; an open-door policy in the most literal sense. This gives the lounge a charming resemblance to a street-side café, with patrons in all casual attire multitasking in the art of smoking, chatting, and people-watching. I’ve just come from a party on the Upper East Side in a full suit, bow tie and suspenders; needless to say, I stick out like a sore thumb in more ways than one. Yet I’m accepted as a member of the family the moment I walk in.
Juana, the hostess, greets me and escorts me into the walk-in humidor. The selection has a healthy balance of established brands (like Rocky Patel, Montecristo, etc.) and newer brands (such as Exactus and Manolo Estate) “Where you been?” she asks me with a smile while I pick out a cigar, “Francis (the founder and owner of both Papa Juan lounges) really misses you, you know.” This is quite impressive, considering I’ve only visited Papa Juan a handful of times, most of which were for business, no less. It’s just one of the countless externalities of the highly community-driven and people-oriented enterprise that is Papa Juan.
I pay for my cigar and drink and pop a seat in one of the identical black lounge chairs lined up against the brick wall flawlessly in a row. Each chair also comes with its own adjacently positioned fancy ashtray complete with two separate trays on a stem; one up top for ashes, and one down below for everything else.
I light up and enjoy a comfortably solitary 90 minutes, surrounded by the mild night air, the different games on the numerous TV screens, and the autographed memorabilia on the walls; the occasional passerby will complement my bow tie and suspenders and then go their merry way. It’s not that the clientele are by any conceivable means insular or tribal, even though they often cluster up in their own groups; rather, I notice they are quite perceptive and accordingly respectful to the social preferences of the people around them.
After I finish my cigar, a group of gentlemen approach me to complement me on my attire; they then invite me to join them in the lounge’s unofficial Man Cave in the basement. I soon find that, in addition to being regular patrons, they’re part of a motorcycle club for hard-working family men with a peace-loving name; the Interstate Predatorz. They kindly invite me to help myself to their smokes and libations, an offer I can’t refuse, and I ask them what keeps them coming back to Papa Juan. Andrew, the club’s president, sums it up perfectly; “it’s comfy, and it’s happy.” Enough said.
The Predatorz take their leave after about an hour of stories and laughs; Andrew is even kind enough to give me a cigar for the road. As someone who’s visited more than a few cigar lounges throughout this great city, I can tell you that this is not the norm. A group of total strangers made me, a total stranger, feel very much at home. A healthy balance of alone time and time spent with old friends and/or meeting wonderful new people is imperative for the ideal cigar experience. In my experience, Papa Juan excels in this essential regard!
“Time beautifully filled” – that’s the Davidoff philosophy, and nowhere in NYC is it more evident than in their spectacular 2,000 square foot flagship store nestling in the beautiful Brookfield Place shopping center.
Like so many other old-school NYC cigar lounges, “Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911” gives off a very classy vibe, but unlike others there’s nothing old school about this bright, thoroughly modern establishment.
However, there’s definitely an air of serenity surrounding you as you check out the retail section before exploring the glass, copper and dark wood humidor – the only place on earth to find the Davidoff NYC Downtown Exclusive, specially commissioned just for this store.
This elegant, well-balanced Belicoso, with its aroma of honey and sweet roasted nuts, is the perfect accompaniment to your first coffee of the day. And you’re more than welcome to bring that coffee – or any other kind of non-alcoholic beverage – into the lounge with you, as refreshments aren’t available for purchase there.
And of course you’ll also find the full Range of Davidoff cigars in the humidor as well, together with offerings from Padrón, Arturo Fuente, My Father Cigars and Illusione, to name but a few.
Plush leather seating beneath the spectacular chandelier and tobacco-leaf themed art installation in the lounge itself caters for every kind of smoker: there’s table seating for sociable groups, paired seating for one-to-one conversations and large lounge chairs set apart for those preferring their own company while enjoying a smoke.
This store is the perfect example of Davidoff’s philosophy of “Time Beautifully Filled”, so where better to fill your time – beautifully – than at “Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911”?