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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Places to Smoke a Stogie and Watch the Game


Yes, they're STILL called the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," and they are easily the class of the regular season in the junior circuit, but Anaheim, in Orange County, is not Los Angeles, and Anaheim itself STILL has no cigar lounges. That said, there is a new wine bar about a three-minute drive from the stadium that offers the opportunity to smoke on its patio. It’s called Pop the Cork, its open late and there is a cigar kiosk nearby as well if you need to buy a smoke. It’s also very close to Disneyland. Whatever. Red Cloud Cigars Martini Red & Billiards, about 12 miles away in Fullerton, is a private club that charges $250 for a membership, though you might wangle your way in if they’re not real busy or if a member shows some mercy. Also in Fullerton is 2J's Cocktail Lounge, which offers a patio on which to enjoy a cigar and big-screen TVs for the true sports fan.

Pop the Cork
Katella Avenue No. 305
Anaheim, CA

Red Cloud Cigars Martini Bar & Billiards (private)
118 Wilshire Avenue
Fullerton, CA

2J's Cocktail Lounge
120 West Houston Avenue
Fullerton, CA


I know, it’s a little bit lazy on my part, but basically there’s not much reason to change what I wrote last year about where to smoke in Boston since little has changed on the cigar scene there. My best recommendation for a pre-game smoke continues to be Cigar Masters. It's relatively close to Fenway Park or on the way from downtown. It's on the Green Line of the "T," Boston's light rail and subway system. (Click here to read more about cigars in Boston.) You can also check out Churchill's Lounge at David P. Ehrlich's and, in the North End, Boston's Italian neighborhood, there's Stanza dei Sigari.

Cigar Masters
745 Boylston Street
Boston, MA

Churchill's Lounge
40 North Street
Boston, MA

Stanza dei Sigari
292 Hanover Street
Boston, MA

Chicago (South Side)
South Side or North? It doesn’t matter when it comes to enjoying a cigar. Illinois has a strict anti-smoking law — remember that the Big Smoke in Chicago was cancelled this year — and that has pretty much limited opportunities to some museum-quality tobacco stores.

Jack Schwartz Importer (south and west of the Loop; home of the free matches)
141 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL

Up Down Cigar (Old Town, closest to Wrigley)
1550 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Iwan Ries (Loop)
19 South Wabash Avenue 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL

In Minneapolis, there’s only one recommendation. Golden Leaf is about four miles from the ballpark and has some seats and a TV. Great selection. They just opened in Saint Paul also where, I must mention, you can also find Stogies on Grand, the only Davidoff distributor in the state. Probably about eight miles from the Metrodome.

Golden Leaf Ltd.
3032 Hennepin Ave South
Minneapolis, MN

Stogies on Grand
961 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN

Tampa Bay
Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar

Tropicana Field offers the “only cigar bar at a major league ballpark.” It’s a comfy little — 1,500 square feet — lounge where you can puff your favorite cigar and watch the game on the tube. The lounge is located on the upper level of Centerfield Street just across from the Batter’s Eye Restaurant. If you want to hit a real party bar, try out Gaspar’s Grotto in historic cigar center Ybor City in Tampa. They’ll let you smoke cigars inside if it’s not packed and they have great rums that tie into its hokey pirate theme.

Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar
Tropicana Field
One Tropicana Drive
St. Petersburg, FL

Gaspar’s Grotto
1805 East 7th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605


Chicago (North Side)

Yeah, yeah, the Baby Bears are in again. Great. 100 years. Billy Goat. Lots of fun. The bad news is that since last year, Illinois enacted an anti-smoking law that has reduced this once-great cigar city to a great place to eat and drink and watch baseball. OK, not too bad really, but no more puffing at Ditka’s or Gibson’s. Chicago, to its credit, still boasts some of the best cigar shops in the nation in which to enjoy a cigar and some of the most knowledgeable tobacconists anywhere. Which one you go to depends on where you are in the city, though Chicago offers the best train service to its ballparks of any of the places in the postseason. One thing, they’re not open late. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a patio or sidewalk spot outside your favorite bar on Rush Street after the game. My three favorites are:

Jack Schwartz Importer (south and west of the Loop; home of the free matches)
141 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL

Up Down Cigar (Old Town, closest to Wrigley)
1550 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Iwan Ries (Loop)
19 South Wabash Avenue 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL

Los Angeles

The interior of Ceniza Cigar Lounge.
L.A. and much of Southern California are actually much more cigar-friendly than reputation would indicate. I live here and so, without adieu, my geographically diverse, Dodger Stadium triangulating recommendations, all reviewed at's Cigar Bar Central:

Buena Vista Cigar Club & Lounge
9715 South Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA

Ceniza Cigar Lounge
260 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA

J Restaurant & Lounge
1119 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA

It’s not that I was especially cheering for the Brewers to win the wild card — yeah, actually, I was, because I wanted to see the Cubs play the Dodgers — but since they did, take advantage of visiting John Hawk’s Pub. Start with a brat and a beer. Followed by a brat and a beer. Then have a cigar. Hawk’s has a basic bunch they sell there. The pub is about five miles from Miller Park at the bottom of the Wells Fargo Building on the Riverwalk in downtow. If you want to dress it up a little — and why the hell not? — head three blocks over to the Pfister Hotel (one of my favorites anywhere) and sit yourself down at Blu and take in spectacular views of downtown and Lake Michigan. They have cigars to sell you, but as always, take your own to make sure you’re smoking what you want.

John Hawk’s Pub
100 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI

The Pfister Hotel
424 East Wisconsin Avenue

The Phillies are in again and will not run into the Colorado juggernaut this year. It’s another chance to enjoy a cigar at Mahogany on Walnut. It’s really the only place, still. Buy a cigar downstairs at Holt’s Tobacco, one of the best shops in America, and get comfortable. (See my January 2006 review at Cigar Bar Central.)

Mahogany on Walnut
1524 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA