When I travel , I make it a point, to find a local cigar establishment and spend a couple of hours there. It’s not that I am a frequent traveler, but I get a good idea of what the local populace is about and what they are thinking.
Couple of places come to mind. The grand daddy of all cigar B & M ‘s is Fox’s in London. I was in London back in 2009 with my wife and while she was having a business meeting, I made the pilgrimage to Fox’s. The store was about a 20 minute jaunt from my hotel in a business section of town. I arrived at the front door and my heart jumped. I was going to be in the place where Winston Churchill smoked. There were a couple of customers there placing orders. What struck me immediately was that the two employees were dressed vastly different. The younger of the two had a three piece suit on, looking as if he was a member of the House of Lords. . He was behind a computer screen, speaking to a client on the phone. They were in conversation about a new shipment of Cuban cigars coming in and the client was placing an order.
The other employee was an older man, sporting a vest with a pocket watch and resembling a character from Dickens. He asked me if I needed help and I said to him, ” I’ve come 6000 miles from Los Angeles to pay a visit to your store.” He seemed impressed and offered to show me around. The store itself is not particularly large but I enjoyed the guided tour. He showed the chair that Winston Churchill smoked in and a painting of Sir Winston that hung on a wall . I also looked at many different brands of cigars, mostly Cuban and a small amount of central american brands. I was overwhelmed with the selection and asked him to help me pick out a special cigar as a remembrance of my trip. He went back to the front counter and selected a Monti #2 from the stash. He told me this stick was specially aged and would be a good choice. I thanked him and paid for the purchase, ( the most expense cigar I ever bought 17 pounds , 20 pence ), and asked him if I could take some photos of the shop. He said of course, I thanked him and then left.
As I left I felt I just marched through a piece of history and Sir Winston was about to smoke with me. That night I went back to the hotel, sat in the English garden and puffed away. I don’t know if it was the best cigar I ever smoked, but wanted to believe it was. Thank God for England, they do things differently with a style that is unique and full of custom which is a throwback I truly enjoy.
A bit of a contrast but no less enjoyable was a B & M in Larchmont , NY called Dom’s cigars. I hope that place is still around because if you live in the New York area, Dom’s is worth a trip. Once again, I was with my wife, visiting this time her sister in law . The two of them chose to do something that did not appeal to me and was ” allowed” to take off by myself. I noticed Dom’s the day before while we were walking around Larchmont , looking for a lunch spot. It was a cold, rainy walk to Dom’s which to me was not unpleasant. I was dressed for the wet stuff, and truly enjoy a touch of bad weather as Los Angeles is about 75- 85 degrees 325 days a year. As I grew up back east, I am not taken aback by rain or snow. I went into Dom’s and the place was empty.
The walls were lined with sport celebrities, mostly NY legends such as Joe D, Mickey Mantle, Walt Frazier and Joe Namath. I walked through the store, looking at cigars and accessories when Dom came out from the back room. He asked me if I I needed help and told him I had time to kill and wanted to sit down and smoke a cigar in his lounge. Dom took me through his humidor, and I picked up a Gispert Maduro, which at the time was a new stick for me. I lit it up, Dom offered me a cup of coffee which I accepted. There was a basketball game on the TV screen ( not a flat screen , this was around the year 2005)
We proceeded to watch the game , and talk about LA as Dom never had paid a visit. I told him LA was not what I expected when I moved there in 1997 as I shared many stereotypes that east coast people have of Los Angeles. After the Gispert smoked down to the nub, he offered me another cigar as his gift to this transplanted NY/Boston guy. I don’t remember what the cigar was, but it did not really matter. I was sharing a smoke with a friend who I knew for about 2 hours but felt like I knew him for years. Eventually I needed to get back and thanked him for the great time. He said he had a fine time too and if I ever come back, pay him a visit. I recently went through my business cards and tossed his out which I could kick myself for.However, Dom is in my memory and this is what cigar smoking is about, finding new adventures ,new friends and never being bored.