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Lounge Life Stories

Lounge Life Stories

By Joe Bosso

COMFORT. RELAXATION. RESPITE. That feeling like our challenges and stressors are on hold. Just the right vibe for friends on the same wavelength to effortlessly engage. That’s what attracts us to our favorite cigar lounge. Each establishment has its own personality. It becomes a niche community unto itself. Your go-to lounge is an escape where local flavor and robust tastes are right at your fingertips.

Each of these cigar spots profiled in this issue have put their unique stamp on the lounge life experience. It’s highly recommended you pop in if you find yourself in their neck of the woods.

Privat Cigar Lounge at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

General Manager: Kato Moy

Rancho Mirage, CA

The Cahuilla Indian term “pivat” means “smoking tobacco,” but that doesn’t adequately describe what visitors to the Pivat Cigar Lounge, located within the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, can expect. “We go out of our way to give our guests a high-quality cigar experience from top to bottom,” says Kato Moy, the resort’s senior vice president and general manager. “There’s cigar bars, there’s smoking rooms, and there’s cigar lounges. We’re an elegant, upscale example of the latter. Our clientele are generally professionals who savor the finest things in life, whether they be in dining, fashion, cars and cigars. We conceived and designed the lounge as a perfect way to complement their casino experience in every way.”

Located next door to the resort’s Steakhouse Restaurant, the Pivat is an intimate and luxurious man cave, with large leather club chairs, a sleek bar area, a big-screen TV and five video poker machines. There is also an adjacent patio that offer guests year-round outdoor smoking; heaters keep things nice and toasty during cooler weather, and water misters cool people off during hot summer nights.

The spirits selection is high-end all the way—anything from Louis XIII to Glenlivet to Macallan and beyond. Cigar-wise, the Pivat offers 100 hand-selected smokes, including Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, Graycliff, Gurkha, Montecristo, My Father, Oliva, Padron, Rocky Patel and Romeo y Julieta. “Most of our guests are pretty experienced cigar smokers,” says Hoy, “but we occasionally get people who aren’t as knowledgeable as others, or maybe they’re trying a cigar for the first time. Our staff is always happy to make recommendations.”

Jamie’s Cigar Bar and Restaurant

General Manager: Donna Veneziano

Clifton, NJ

A visit to Jamie’s Cigar Bar and Restaurant is almost like going back in time. From the moment you step inside, you’re greeted by the sweet aroma of cigar smoke. Gaze out into the main dining room and you’ll see customers happily lighting up and puffing away as they feast on linguini scampi, veal saltimbocca or filet mignon—or any of the other favorites served at this popular North Jersey eatery.

“We’re one of the few places I know of that still allows customers to smoke cigars right at their tables,” says general manager Donna Veneziano, who explains that the 15-year-old establishment was grandfathered into previous smoking laws. “The owner saw that the laws in New York were being changed, so we opened as a cigar bar before similar laws in New Jersey took effect. And our customers love us for it. There’s so many restrictions on smoking these days, so people can come here, have a meal and a cigar and not be hassled.

The main dining room seats 50, and an equal number of customers can be seated comfortably in a separate bar area. “It’s more of a casual atmosphere in the bar,” Veneziano says. “People can sit at tables and watch baseball or football on the TVs.” She notes that while there isn’t a strict “no news” rule at Jamie’s, “discussions can get a little heated whenever people are talking politics. So, we try to have the TVs tuned to sports. We like to be a place where people can get away from their problems.”

Weather permitting, guests can also enjoy a meal and a smoke outside on the backyard deck. “The deck is open year-round,” Veneziano says, “but obviously during the winter there’s only so many 50- and 60-degree days. But during the spring and summer, the deck is really hopping, even into the wee hours.” Unlike most smoking lounges, the staff at Jamie’s allows patrons to bring in their own sticks, and they waive the usual cutting fee commonly associated with such privileges. “If you want to bring in your own cigars, that’s fine with us,” us,” Veneziano says. “But we also offer a tremendous range of cigars from our humidor. Fuentes, Ashtons, Padrons, Monte Cristos–we’ve got a great selection. And we even offer some flavored cigars, which tend to be popular with some of ladies who come here.”

Cigars by the Lake


“The beauty of a cigar lounge is that everybody is equal,” says Angela Mostashari, owner of  Cigars By the Lake, located in Santa Margarita, California. “No matter who you are, when you sit in a cigar lounge, you’re all brothers–or sisters–of the leaf.”

Cigars By the Lake isn’t Mostashari’s first cigar lounge rodeo—for the past two decades, she’s run the wildly popular Club Aficionado in nearby Lake Forest. Responding to requests of her longtime customers, who wanted their own lounge close to Santa Margarita, Mostashari searched for a suitable location, finding a recently closed cigar shop near Rancho Santa Margarita Lake. “The old spot was nice, but we made a lot of renovations and improvements,” she says.

The layout of Cigars By the Lake is divided into thirds. In the retail area, Mostashari sells smoking accessories; in the humidor, 500 boxes of premium-brand cigars are available; and the lounge area seats 25 people comfortably. “My main goal was to create a warm, intimate and inviting atmosphere for our customers,” she says. “We have plush furniture and soft LED lighting. This is a relaxing homeaway- from-home for people. Whether you’re a banker, surgeon, teacher, police officer—you name it—you’re welcome here.”

At both of her lounges, Mostashari also sells her own brand called Godmother Cigars. Comprised of Costa Rican wrappers, Nicaraguan fillers and Honduran binder, Godmother Cigars are made by the master blenders of Graycliff Cigars. “They’re fabulous cigars,” Mostashari raves. “I’m especially partial to the full-bodied ones, which have a hint of espresso. I’ve had the line for three years, and it’s a big hit with my customers.”

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