When you walk into Downtown Cigar Lounge, the first thing you smell is…nothing. I wondered why I wasn’t overwhelmed with overpowering, heavy aromas of freshly wrapped cigars and infused delicacies. The reason for the subtle, pleasant fragrance is the ceiling air filters that eluminate the cigar smoke and circulate fresh air back in to let everyone breathe easy. I could tell I was going to like this place.
Red brick walls make up the interior of the lounge, with a green wall behind the bar that showcases an early 1900s Coca-Cola advertisement. Other decorations include older photographs of boxers and people smoking cigars.
I was greeted by the friendly Troy McNair, co-owner of this new Downtown lounge, which opened in January. Troy shares partnership with Vault Johnson, who focuses more on the corporate side of the business.
Troy’s passion for cigars started with his grandfather when he used to watch his grandfather smoke cigars while playing golf.
“My favorite memory was when my grandfather gave me a picture of President Kennedy smoking a cigar,” he said. Since then, Troy has always had a passion for cigars. He travels all over the country to cigar conventions and to learn about origins of tobacco.
“I wanted the lounge Downtown because I believe I have a real likeness and understanding for the area,” he said. “This is a great location with a lot of character that needed a quality lounge with premium cigar selections.” The Downtown Cigar Lounge will be open for Art Walk.
The biggest challenge opening up their lounge Downtown was the learning curve.
“It’s totally diverse down here,” Troy said. “There are wide varieties of people who come around and want different things. I had to learn about craft beers and local breweries around here that I wasn’t familiar with.
I sat down with experts and did a bunch of taste testing to understand what the locals want.” Troy said the lounge’s customers range from college students to older folks who’ve smoked cigars most of their entire lives.
Aside from the ceiling air filters, the Downtown Cigar Lounge offers many unique features to its patrons. In-house cigars come from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. There are even cigar blends flavor-infused for new or light smokers.
“We want the non-smokers to feel comfortable, too,” Troy said. “Even the smokers don’t want to have smoke all over. We want everyone to enjoy themselves.”
As if the lounge isn’t exciting enough, Troy revealed plans to launch their own line of cigars, appropriately named “DCL” for Downtown Cigar Lounge. They’ve tested blends with focus groups and hope to come out with two blends within the next couple of months. “We aim to have an incredible, local cigar that people can be excited about,” he said.
Because I’m new to the world of cigars, Troy gave me a tour of the cedar cabinet that holds various products.
“We keep the cigars in a cedar display case because it won’t dry them out,” he said.
After listening to my desired tastes and favorite flavors, he matched me with a cherry-flavored, Tatiana cigar from the Dominican Republic.
“Different infused cigars go with specific pallets and drink choices,” he said. “Perhaps a person likes a sweet, white wine. They’re going to be matched with a different cigar than someone who prefers an IPA.”
Troy loves his new Downtown home. He said the best part of having a Downtown location is the neighbors.
“People from surrounding businesses all over have been extremely generous,” he said. “Everyone is doing their part to make great things happen in this community. We’re still playing around with the idea of having local Art Walk artists come in and help design the inside,” Troy said. “I also want to incorporate the Kennedy photograph in here — I think it would look great blown up on my wall. I want to capture the true history of cigar smoking.”
Through his Downtown Cigar Lounge membership program, members are entitled to a year of special benefits, including private events and discounted cigars. This summer, Troy and Vault want to plan a day out on a private yacht for members to relax and enjoy high-quality cigars. Memberships are $750 per year, but you don’t need a membership to stop by and enjoy the lounge.
The lounge is open Monday through Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. We’ll see you this Saturday night at 9 p.m. for live music by Sean Isaac with a Casino Gold in our hand!