Best Cigar Lounges
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Pacino as Scarface, Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Jackman as Wolverine. That old guy that played Hannibal from the A-Team (I’ll save you the google search, it was George Peppard)… All of these men exude toughness and a classic coolness in these roles. They also share one other thing in common – a cigar to help create and refine that image.
Cigars have a significant place in bad-boy pop culture, but go to one of the finer cigar lounges in Scottsdale, Phoenix and beyond. You will quickly realize cigars are no longer an accessory primarily enjoyed by the guys. Many women can be spotted enjoying a cigar and a cocktail on any given night. Frequently, cigar lounges are a perfect spot to go for a night with your squad or an excellent choice for a nightcap after dinner. Therefore, we’ve selected some of the standouts located in all corners of the Valley. Giving you the inside scoop on what sets them apart.
The new kid on the block. Torch Cigar Bar was greatly anticipated before its opening in June on High Street (formerly CityNorth). An adult playground of sorts in North Phoenix/Scottsdale which, after struggling for years to find direction and tenants, seems to be finding an audience. Most noteworthy, Torch Proprietors Jon and Kelly Harrington spent a full year scouring North America’s finest (and not so fine, in some cases) cigar lounges to see what works, what doesn’t and what they could provide that possibly nobody else had thought of. These efforts are clear the second you walk in the door. Therefore, opposed to the dark, speakeasy feel of many cigar bars. The numerous windows and retractable garage doors give a bright, open feel to Torch.
Torch is geared to the high-end clientele in the Valley of the Sun. This is apparent by some of the athletes and local celebrities that have been spotted there in the opening months. They also offer a yearly membership for $6000 for those who want the full high-roller treatment. Including your own personalized cedar locker (full details on their website if you’re interested). Although Torch is aiming for the socialites and ballers of Scottsdale, the service is friendly and unpretentious. Whether you are there to watch a game (they will have NFL Sunday Ticket so you can watch ANY game) on one of the numerous TVs or listen to live music, you’ll feel welcomed by all.
The walk-in humidor is located with the aforementioned cedar lockers, and is the smallest room on this list. What the cigar selection may lack in quantity, it makes up for it in quality. The range of sticks available are suitable for beginners or frequent smokers. The room is overseen by Torch’s “Cigar Aficionado” John, who does a wonderful job recommending cigars after asking some questions about your preferences and tastes. He takes a great amount of pride in finding the right cigar for his guests.
On the beverage side, Torch has a full bar, eight beers on tap and a specialty cocktail list. The wine list currently has about 20 selections (12 by the glass) and focuses almost exclusively on American wines. For still being fairly new, the spirits list at Torch is ambitious. There are a few whiskies I would love to see on there, but I am confident they will appear in time and I had no problem finding some choices I enjoy. On the specialty cocktail list, there are some real standouts – The New Fashioned, The Torch Manhattan and The Torpedo were favorites in our time there.
If you look up “diamond in the rough” in a dictionary, you may find yourself staring at the inside of Magnums Speakeasy, located in a strip mall in North Phoenix (7th Street and Union Hills Ave). Between a Safeway and a repair shop, if you were told to find the swanky, upscale cigar lounge where they need rolling ladders to reach all the whiskeys and scotches available. You would immediately assume you should speed off in your car about 20 minutes in various directions.
If you stayed put and walked into Magnums, you would be rewarded with a two-part vice heaven. On one side, you have the retail store, containing a beer cooler, a growler station with premium craft beers, some wines and spirits for sale. As well as an approximate 450-square-foot walk-in humidor that houses rows of shelves filled with cigars for every price range and every palate. However, they do not have a cigar aficionado on-hand to help with your selection. Therefore, you may want to research a few options ahead of time or look up your selection on your phone before you buy.
Walk through the door to the other side, however, and you’re transported to the 1930’s. (I’d say Prohibition, but if you watch the documentaries. Those places were grimy as hell for the most part and sold grain alcohol that literally killed people sometimes. That’s not where you want to be transported to.) The bartenders are uniform in vests and ties and the selection of liquors… oh, the selection of liquors. Although not always kept up to date, the many leather-bound books of alcohol that are available to peruse contain page after page of popular and rare single-malt scotches, bourbons, ryes, etc. If you’re adventurous, just ask your mixologist to make you a drink. Give them a style (sweet, smoky, bitter, etc.) or a liquor and let them do their magic.
Magnums does not have a full kitchen. However, they do have a charcuterie and cheese plate for $25 that is generously-sized and offers high-quality rotating meats and cheeses. They will also (as will Torch) order from a neighboring restaurant and get you set up with silverware and place settings.
The second Fox Cigar Bar in the area, located on 6th Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale, is a wonderful hybrid of the two previous standouts and the Fox location we will feature. It has a wraparound bar, comfortable captain’s chairs and couches and also has two beautiful marble tables with high-top seating ideal for working while enjoying a cigar and a drink. There are large flat-screen televisions in almost every direction. Making Fox a great spot to watch your favorite sporting events. The original Fox Cigar Bar has been in Gilbert for almost seven years. Expanding to over 4,000 square feet in 2013, and Mr. Fox opened the Scottsdale location just over a year ago.
Fox Cigar Bar offers hundreds of different cigar brands including a wide selection of Ashton’s. Especially relevant, the lounge in Gilbert is called the Ashton lounge. Therefore, Aston’s are an offering from Mr. Fox’s own father sold exclusively at Fox. Most important, there is a tobacconist on-hand to help with your selection.
There are over 400 spirits at Fox. Including over 100 whiskeys and bourbons and over 100 scotches. There is a rotating craft beer list as well. The staff at Fox in Scottsdale is a bit more casual than at the other two cigar lounges featured. However, they are just as skilled at making quality drinks and providing professional, friendly service. We’ve heard some great stories from the bartenders during our times there and you’re made to feel very comfortable and at-ease. If you have just finished dinner at one of the best restaurant atmospheres in Scottsdale, Fox is a perfect place for after-dinner drinks and a cigar with your friends or date.
If you know of any particular cigar lounges that we missed please let us know in the comments below.
(Guest Writer is Tony Pontecorvo and he can be found online at @disguyyy)