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Smoke: Smoke On The Water

Drew Limsky

For David Haddad, founder and CEO of Phoenix-based Fumar Cigars, nothing captures the spirit of Miami Beach like smoking a preembargo Francisco Farach on the veranda of the Hotel Victor. The South Beach hotel, which dates to 1937, reopened in February after being transformed by Parisian designer Jacques Garcia. The Victor now includes 91 rooms and suites, an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic, and a jellyfish-filled aquarium that divides the lobby from the dining room. But of all the hotel’s new features, Haddad’s contributions are the most enticing for cigar connoisseurs.

Fumar Cigars, which Haddad established in 1996, outfits high-end hotels with custom humidors and supplies vintage and other rare smokes to fill the containers. “Hotels didn’t have anything for the cigar world like they had for fine dining,” says Haddad, who adds that there was “no effort at presentation” on the part of the properties when he started Fumar. Since launching the company, Haddad has worked with 300 hotels and resorts, including several in the Ritz-Carlton chain, to enhance their cigar displays and selections. However, as a historic hotel in a city at the heart of Cuban-American culture, the Victor presented a singular opportunity.

To build the humidor that he installed on the Victor’s second floor, Haddad enlisted Boca Raton furniture craftsman Ron Nye. “Traditional humidor builders don’t produce the kind of work appropriate for $100 million hotels,” Haddad explains. Nye’s creation, which rests on a wrought iron base, has an exterior of alder wood—Haddad likes the way paler woods take a dark stain—with taste-enhancing Spanish cedar on the inside. The container holds as many as 1,500 cigars ranging from vintage Ramon Allones tubos to contemporary Graycliff torpedoes. The Victor can fulfill requests for cigars from every year from 1910 through 1962, and the hotel will present the smokes as part of a gift set with a cutter and lighter placed in a humidor.

Those who prefer prompt enjoyment of their cigars will find several appropriate venues at the Victor. The ocean-view pool deck, the patio at the hotel’s Vix restaurant, and the circular beds beside the 25-foot video screen on the second-floor Vue Terrace all accommodate smokers. However, according to Scott Engelman, the Victor’s food and beverage director, most people prefer smoking on the veranda while watching the action below on Ocean Drive. “We had a group of businessmen lighting up here five nights in a row,” says Engelman, who claims that demand for vintage cigars requires Fumar to restock the hotel’s humidors every week. “Very few places have a one-of-a-kind product.”

With several of its vintage cigars, the Victor offers complemental rums and whiskeys that are even rarer than the smokes. A box of nine 1937 La Coronas comes with a bottle of 100-proof whiskey that is labeled “for medicinal purposes only”; the spirit was produced during Prohibition. For one recent guest, Engelman paired a 1936 Bacardi with a 1937 Cuban cigar.

Haddad believes that such pairings are the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. For his part, the Fumar Cigars owner finds “a certain historic cachet” to supplying a 1937 Cuban smoke for a 1937 Miami hotel.

Reopened in February, the Hotel Victor features a cigar menu with selections from every year from 1910 through 1962.

Fumar Cigars, 480.419.6866
Hotel Victor
305.428.1234, www.hotelvictorsouthbeach.com

Photo by Daimler AG
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