Outdoor fireplaces at the Cohiba Experience at The Bacara | Credit: Courtesy

Talk about a breath of fresh air! One look around the ocean view patio, the sparkling blue glass filled fire pits, and the comfy outdoor furniture and it’s clear that this is not your grandfather’s cigar lounge. This al fresco terrace setting has lovely hand-painted murals, and overlooks the resort’s spa pool, allowing for gentle breezes and a much more welcoming atmosphere for those who aren’t indulging in cigars. 

The Cohiba Experience | Credit: Courtesy

Which is not to say that traditionalists won’t find plenty to appreciate at the new Cohiba Experience at The Bacara, which opened to the public this week. 

As one might imagine, the first permanent Cohiba Cigar Lounge in the U.S. does have a stunning cedar-lined, walk-in humidor, dominated by Cohiba’s famous logo — the most recognizable cigar name in the world, it was once Fidel Castro’s private label brand and in the same kind of luxury category as Dom Pérignon Champagne and Rolls Royce — and an assortment of selections from the storied brand such as the Red Dot (Dominican Republic), Cohiba Blue (Honduras), and the Royale (Nicaragua).

It’s also stocked with an ogle-worthy assortment of fine spirits, such as LOUIS XIII Cognac by Remy Martin and high end whiskies like Van Winkle Special Reserve and Talisker 18 year. “We’ll cut and light everything tableside, as well as serve the spirits,” said Brittany, a Bacara server who explained she received extensive training on cigars and the selection, aging and blending of tobacco in preparation for the opening.  

Also on tap in the new cigar lounge are two specially crafted cocktails from the Good Lion Hospitality Group. Mixologists from their popular downtown and Funk Zone bars were on hand to pour their special creations that will be on the Cohiba Experience menu — the Shaker Mill Old Fashioned and the Loose Canon — both of which I had to sample, along with, of course, a few puffs on a Cohiba. 

Victoria McKee Jaworski, left, and Sean Williams of Cohiba | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

Victoria McKee Jaworski, the  PR Lead at Scandinavian Tobacco Group, which owns the Cohiba brand in the U.S., has been in the business for more than 20 years, traveling all over the world telling the stories of the cigar’s mystique. She told me a bit about how unique the Ritz-Carlton partnership is, “as the first of its kind permanent (not just a pop-up) cigar lounge in the U.S.” 

After cutting the ribbon on the new cigar lounge, alongside Steven Janicek, GM of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Cohiba Lead Blender and Brand Ambassador Sean Williams also had a wealth of knowledge to share. Originally the founder of his own artisanal brand cigar company, El Primer Mundo, Williams joined the international tobacco company six years ago in part, he explained, to be able to make an impact on a large scale with partnerships like this one. 

While most of the cigar tobacco is produced outside of the U.S., the Connecticut River Valley has been continuously farming tobacco since 1646, said Williams. Connecticut Shade Tobacco is still used by premium brands like Cohiba, whose distinctive white and gold foil Connecticut label, with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, is on display in the humidor at the Bacara. 

Williams will be back in town and appearing at the Cohiba Experience at The Bacara October 20-22. It’s a uniquely cool space, and he’s a great storyteller — I recommend you stay tuned for more details as plans develop. He plans to be in town on a regular basis for things like cigar pairings, handmade cigar seminars, exclusive cigar release parties, and other special events. Meanwhile, The Cohiba Experience at The Bacara is now open to the public (age 21 and over), Wednesday through Sunday from 6 – 10 p.m. Reservations are encouraged. See sevenrooms.com/reservations/cigarloungesbarz/sbarz-cigar-lounge-marriott-com for details. 


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