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Smoke: Vintage Selection

Brie Lam

Macanudo Fumoir, a sleek cigar lounge in London’s celebrated Claridge’s hotel, has no signs directing smokers to this enclave, but those who are aware of the retreat know of its fine rewards. Located in the hotel foyer adjacent to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, the room is richly dressed in shades of purple and aubergine. Open nearly a year, the Art Deco–inspired Fumoir was designed by Thierry Despont, who also designed the interiors of Bill Gates’ Seattle home and the galleries of decorative art in the new Getty Center in Los Angeles.

At the entryway, your eyes must adjust to the dark leather-covered walls, which serve as the backdrop for provocative black-and-white prints of a sexy female model reveling in a smoke. About 25 people can relax at a handful of tables and inviting chairs, sink into sofas, or enjoy the cozy bar area. Details such as the amber tobacco leaf lampshades atop the bar and the ornate, oversize engraved mirrors that have adorned Claridge’s since the 1920s make the Fumoir a visual delight. Dim lighting adds to the warm ambience of the room, which is equally suitable for cigars and conversation with friends or an enjoyable solo smoke.

The menu offers a wide selection of Macanudos, naturally, in addition to the most popular brands of Havana smokes, such as Cohiba, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta. A respectable listing of Cognacs, Armagnacs, and Calvados is included as well. For the true connoisseur, however, an-other menu is available upon request: a listing from which you can select an 1848 Baron de Lustrac Armagnac or a 1900 Georges Roullet Cognac. Just as impressive is the sampling of rare cigars, which includes the best-selling Montecarlos del Punch from the 1960s. Or you might be drawn to the limited-production Cohiba Milleniums or the Bock Londres de Cortes from the 1930s. Whether you prefer cigars that are mild or full-bodied, well-aged or very well-aged, you are sure to find just the smoke to wrap you in a haze of bliss. I certainly did.

I paired the irresistible 1930s Bock Londres de Cortes with a 1922 Georges Roullet Cognac. Though I’ve smoked many vintage cigars, this was the oldest, and I wondered whether it would also prove to be the finest. It was. I basked in its mild yet complex flavor, savoring the notes of cashews and toast swirling on my palate. Slow-burning and smooth, this cigar was among the few I’d sampled that had a perfect draw and a slightly sweet aftertaste devoid of any harshness or bitterness. I sipped the Cognac slowly in reverence of its age, allowing its fruitiness to harmonize with the cigar’s earthiness. It was a combination that I wanted to savor forever, so I did the next best thing: I purchased the lounge’s remaining stock of the cigar.

Macanudo Fumoir, +44.20.7629.8860,
www.savoy-group.com/claridges/dining/fumoir.html

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