Cigar smokers in the Miami area certainly have plenty of options when it comes to upscale lounges. Two locations–the Empire Social in Brickell and the Empire Social in Dadeland–should be at the top of their lists.
“We don’t make cigars or whiskies. We create experiences,” says Pete Berntsen, operating partner of Empire Social. “When you come to either location, you’re going to have an amazing time and forget about the outside world. You can have a great glass of whiskey or cognac, or maybe share a bottle of wine with an old friend–or a new one. And, of course, you can enjoy a brilliant cigar. We have quite a few.”
Bernsten isn’t kidding. The Brickell and Dadeland lounges both offer guests 2,500 different cigars to choose from, everything from Davidoffs and Padrons to boutique brands. “You’re never going to come into one of our lounges and be told, ‘We don’t carry that,’” says Berntsen. “In fact, people are always commenting on how they discover something new here.” When it comes to whiskey, Berntsen speaks proudly about the menu. “We have over 230 whiskeys, fine and rare selections that are very hard to get–Dalmore 35, Dalmore 40s, Macallan and Macallan M. We even buy and sell rare whiskey.”
Situated in the financial center of Miami, the Brickell lounge caters to more of a well-heeled business crowd. “The layout of the place is sleek and sophisticated,” says Berntsen. “In fact, we probably over-designed it, but in a good way.” By contrast, the Dadeland lounge is more of a suburban hang. “It’s probably a little homier, a bit less formal. It’s got slightly fewer bells and whistles with less backlighting.” Visitors to the Fort Lauderdale area should keep an eye out for a third location coming soon.