Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Cigar Lounges: Buena Vista Cigar Club, Beverly Hills

The Buena Vista Cigar Club has been a favorite of mine for many years, ever since a friend invited me out for a get together some time ago. It's no stodgy Beverly Hills cigar club for members only, nor frequented by an upscale clientele. It's a place for a good smoke with some rum or scotch in one of the last places around that you can live so marvelously reckless. It's a place to talk politics and sports, or to unwind with friends.

Rigo Hernandez, a Cuban expat, was born into cigar smoking. He started as a lad in Havana and has worked in the business up until he opened the Buena Vista Cigar Club in 2000.This "King of Cigars" is a sports fanatic, and eventhough I don't follow sports, I always find a reason to listen to Rigo's post-game analysis.Cuba you say?Always a spirited groaning session or discourse about the future of his native country.Besides Rigo, there always seems to be interesting people in the club. A British investment banker in a bowtie talking about parliamentary procedure, a personal chef and her clueless date, and the occasional character actor. One night Seymour Cassel was behind the bar helping Rigo with some drinks.

Rigo is a one man show, bartender, tobaccanist, and host. He can't have any employees under the Dracconian tobacco laws, only a sole proprietor can serve drinks in a smoking environment. The license to smoke and drink indoors has been grandfathered into Rigo's club, where the majority of lounges in LA are for smoking only.That's only half the fun.

And, smoking a fine cigar without a single malt, aged rum, champagne cognac, or an anejo tequila is like Van Halen without David Lee Roth.

The cigar selection has all the usual offerings, your Paratagas, Romeo y Julietas, and Montecristos.

The room itself is a period bar, from a time when men hunted, told tall tales, and smoked cigars. The kind of place Ernest Hemingway would call home.

Despite the taxidermied mallards and Old World maps on the wall, the Buena Vista Cigar Lounge is couple friendly too.Perhaps it's the drink that makes it more inviting than your typical cigar lounge.I think it's the vibe. This isn't your beer belly, scraggly beard and insults crowd nor is it the manicured Hollywood gathering. The Buena Vista Cigar Lounge is for anyone who likes a nice spirit,isn't afraid to talk to their neighbor, and can afford the time to comtemplate a fine cigar among great friends.Cheers, to the King of Cigars, Rigo Hernandez.

Buena Vista Cigar Club
9715 S. Santa Monica Bl.
Beverly Hills, CA

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