The Lone Wolf Lounge by Cigar Aficionado

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Reading my previous dispatches from California over the years, you know that I have consistently argued that finding a place to smoke a cigar in Los Angeles is not as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, you can’t smoke anywhere you want and you can’t smoke everywhere, but if you want a comfortable place to enjoy a robusto, there is plenty of choice. That, however, is not the case for Santa Monica. The antismoking sentiment is so strong that enjoying a cigar in a cigar shop is no longer possible. So, David Weiss, the owner of Lone Wolf Cigar Company, which has a shop in Santa Monica, opened up a cigar lounge and club in April 2014 just across the border in Los Angeles.

The space is elegant in its simplicity. There’s a shop out front and through a lone door there is an expansive room with couches and chairs, and a conference table of sorts in the back that reminds one of a library or dining hall. The light fixtures are reminiscent of the “flying saucer” towers at the site of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. There is seating for about 100. The floor is cement and the ceilings high. A bar is being planned for the back. During the day, jazz is on the sound system. That could change later on. There are two TVs.

This is a very L.A. scene. Members come in and use the space as a place to conduct business, though not in a hardcore way. Most of it is guys on their computers (there is WiFi) either writing the new blockbuster or negotiating a big commercial mortgage. OK, I’m speculating, but it could happen. There is a sort of shift change around 4 p.m. as more members come in from their offices and light up. Like most such establishments in L.A., members can bring in food from nearby restaurants.

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The lounge is a private club with membership running from $1,500 to $2,000 a year. The higher price includes a humidor locker. An out-of-town membership is $1,000. Weiss said that the club had a “lenient, invitation-only policy for non-members,” but that he was getting a lot of requests from customers who were buying cigars in the shop attached to the lounge. Weiss came up with a solution.

“If you buy fifty dollars worth of cigars,” he explained, “you get to use the lounge for the day. It’s a one-day, VIP option.

*Credit: Alejandro Benes, Cigar Aficionado

Gurkha Partners With Hartfield & Company For Bourbon Collection

Gurkha Cigars has partnered with Kentucky-based Hartfield & Company for a new line of bourbon-infused cigars, the Gurkha Bourbon Collection.

The company isn’t disclosing specific details about the blend, other than that two wrappers are being used for the project. The Churchill vitola (7 x 47, $12) uses a maduro wrapper from an undisclosed country, while the Toro (6 1/2 x 52, $10) uses a natural wrapper, again from an undisclosed origin. The company is hailing them as medium-bodied with richness from the bourbon infusion and a balanced and complex profile.

“There is no better marriage than pairing Gurkha’s premium leaf with Kentucky’s own Hartfield & Company’s small-batch bourbon,” said Kaizad Hansotia, founder and ceo of Gurkha Cigars. “This union provides an incredible sensory experience that releases the rich taste of the leaf and the smoothness of their handcrafted bourbon like no other. We’re excited to announce our collaboration with Hartfield & Company and launch our new cigars at this year’s IPCPR show.”

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“When thinking about what Gurkha has meant to the cigar community for decades, it was incredibly humbling when they asked us, a new craft distillery, to join them in this partnership,” said Andrew Buchanan, founder and head distiller at Hartfield & Company. “Combining the legacy of Gurkha Cigars with our handcrafted bourbon made in Bourbon County, KY, was simply too incredible to pass up. In creating our bourbon, we focused on the complexity of the flavor and the experience we wanted when we sat down with a glass of bourbon. A fine cigar company does much the same thing. With two expertly crafted products combined into one, you have the chance to broaden the flavor profile and enhance the overall experience. Partnering with Gurkha Cigars seemed to be a very natural fit.”

According to a press release from Gurkha Cigars, Hartfield & Company is the first distillery to open in Bourbon County, KY, since 1919. It was founded in 2014 by Andrew and Larissa Buchanan, and is the first distillery to reestablish itself in the birthplace of Bourbon.

“Our Bourbon Whiskey brings together the flavors of corn and rye, both of which are Kentucky sourced, and malted barley that creates a grain-forward, balanced bourbon,” said Buchanan. “Caramel, vanilla and oak are all present. They combine with smoke and leather from the barley, pepper from the rye and sweetness from the corn that results in a new style of bourbon from the home of bourbon: Bourbon County, Ken.”

*Credit: Patrick lagreid from Halfwheel.

*Image via Hartfield & Co.’s Facebook page.