In spite of the Cuban embargo and California’s anti-smoking laws, the aptly named Vendetta men’s clothing and cigar shop located in San Francisco’s Fairmont hotel on Nob Hill is one of the few places in the country where you can both buy and smoke preembargo Cuban cigars.
Thanks to a set of fortuitous circumstances, Vendetta’s owner, Bruce Rothenberg, has been able to stock his store’s humidor with a limited number of preembargo Havanas, including Montecristo No. 2 torpedos from 1955 ($350 each), Hoyo de Monterey Epicure No. 2 robustos from 1957 ($275 each), and Punch Coronas from 1961 ($150 each), among many others. He also (as of press time) has a single full box of Flor de Farach Palmeras from 1950 ($5,000 for a box of 25). In addition to preembargo Havanas, Rothenberg sells smoker’s accessories and premium non-Cuban cigars, such as Regius and Padrón from Nicaragua, and Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta from the Dominican Republic.
What makes this well-appointed men’s clothing and cigar boutique even more enticing is Vendetta’s Fumo Blu, a cozy, enclosed smoking lounge discreetly located at the back of the store.
With a separate ventilation system, Fumo Blu can comfortably accommodate up to six people, and clientele who purchase any cigars will be presented with a snifter of rum to enjoy while relaxing with their smoke. Cutters and cedar matches are also provided. The use of the Fumo Blu smoking lounge is complimentary for purchasers of Vendetta’s preembargo Havanas. Otherwise, there is a $10 fee for those who wish to smoke their own cigars in the lounge. Either way, Vendetta’s Fumo Blu provides one of the few places in San Francisco where a premium cigar can be enjoyed within the confines of an elegant hotel.
Vendetta’s Nob Hill location is symbolic of the store’s motto, “Living well is the best revenge,” for cigar smoking at the Fairmont was once a popular pastime among the well-heeled residents of Nob Hill, who built their homes on this hilltop around the turn of the last century. Although most of the original residents left after the 1906 earthquake destroyed their opulent abodes, the Fairmont was one of the few buildings that survived the devastation. Thus, proving that history repeats itself, thanks to Vendetta and its Fumo Blu smoking lounge, it is once again possible to light up a Cuban cigar at the Fairmont on Nob Hill.