Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em
Cigar-puffing culture in Fairfield
From left to right, writer Steven Stark, Jon Davis, and Amir Maula and Mike Gemignani of Euphoria Cigar & Hookah Lounge enjoy their stogies.
Photo by Stan Godlewski
The biggest challenge with being a cigar smoker is finding a place to smoke. If you’re lucky you can smoke at home. But when that’s not an option, you have to find another place to light up, and that’s probably going to be a cigar lounge.
Cigar lounges are sacred spaces where “brothers of the leaf” gather to share their passion. And although there are some women who enjoy cigars, the majority of cigar smokers are still men, making cigar lounges one of the last strongholds for this masculine indulgence.
Smoking a cigar is a throwback to a time when men sought the company of other men to partake in gentlemanly pursuits like playing cards, drinking brandy, and fighting duels. Often all in the same evening! Besides the camaraderie, there’s something about sitting down to smoke a cigar that’s special. The average cigar takes an hour to enjoy, which is something that Jon Davis, a cigar smoker and lounge regular, likes about the experience. “You’re making the time to relax, to talk to your cigar buddies, and to have a few laughs, and that’s priceless.”
Cigar lounges come in three basic varieties: cigar stores with smoking areas, cigar and hookah bars, and true cigar lounges. Each has its own distinct charm and its own place in the heart of cigar aficionados. There are many great choices to try in the area. Here are four that stand out:
Fairfield Cigars on the Post Road is the perfect spot for cigar lovers. It’s small, but offers a surprisingly large selection of fine cigars. The owners, John and his son Eli Ghazal, are very good at recommending different cigars to try. There’s a lounge area inside the store with lots of comfortable armchairs and a big flat screen TV. The space is set up for conversation, and as Eli notes, “It’s a welcoming environment. Most of the regulars here didn’t know each other before, and now they’re good friends.”
For a more exotic experience, there’s the Euphoria Cigar & Hookah Lounge in Fairfield, on Black Rock Turnpike. Euphoria brings hookah and cigar smokers together in a dimly lit, cozy lounge with a Middle Eastern vibe. Choose a cigar from the large selection in the store, and then settle into one of the pillowy chairs. There are a lot of regulars who frequent Euphoria, and cigar fans mix easily with hookah devotees. Cigar smokers tend to gather mostly in the daytime, with hookah smokers taking over at night. Spending some time in Euphoria’s lounge can feel transporting.
One of the newest cigar lounges in Connecticut is Havana on 25 in nearby Monroe. Havana offers a more upscale experience that feels like a private club, with plush leather chairs, lots of different seating areas, and manly décor. There is a good selection of cigars, and the hostess can make you a demitasse of espresso as well. You can also purchase a membership here that comes with different perks, including 24 hour access to the lounge, which is a first in the area. Havana on 25 is the man cave you’ve always wanted, but your wife would never let you have.
If you’re willing to travel a little further, head for The Owl Shop in New Haven. The Owl is the granddad of cigar lounges, and has been there in different guises since 1934. There’s real history here. You can feel the resonance of deep conversations between Yale students held over smoky cigars. The Owl is masculinity defined—wood walls and fixtures, and lots of comfortably worn leather chairs. There’s a communal table, plenty of seating in back, and two bars: one for coffee and one for cocktails. The Owl is hosted by personable young women who are happy to bring you drinks or small plates of food. They have a lively scene at night, and offer live jazz some evenings.
No matter where you go, the best part of going to a cigar lounge is sitting down to do nothing more than savor a good cigar in good company. In these rushed times, that’s more than worth the price of a cigar.