Posted On: 05/01/2011
Clean living and healthy choices are all well and good, but every now and then it’s necessary to stray. Best to do it in style. Enter Charles P. Stanley Cigar Co. and Lounge, Washington Avenue’s swankiest new urban clubhouse where being bad feels really good.
A cigar bar: Is it smoky? Yes. Overwhelmingly, obnoxiously, get-me-the-something-something-outta-this-joint smoky? No, not really. Thanks to a state-of-the-art filtration system, the lounge is relatively free of the pungent odor of tobacco smoke. After your first cocktail, you’ll hardly notice it. And by round four, you might head over to the walk-in humidor and grab a cigar to spark up yourself.
Beyond the fumes, the interior of Stanley is seriously chic. It’s a blend of English gentlemen’s club and urban loft, replete with deep leather chairs, plush couches and stained concrete floors. Looming over the enormous, glass-encased humidor, a giant mural of workers in straw hats rolling thick cigars lends a subtle Cuban-Hemingway vibe.
Background: Lodged on the ground floor of The Merchandise Mart lofts in the heart of Washington Avenue, Charles P. Stanley Cigar Co. and Lounge is located only a few paces from the original Stanley Cigar Co. location. Founded in 1876, the powerhouse cigar wholesaler, based in St. Louis, once had plants in Havana and Tampa, but it shuttered during the Great Depression. Fourth-generation descendants C. Patrick Stanley III and Kevin O’Reilly Stanley resurrected the company this spring with the opening of the lounge.
Indulgences: The humidor boasts a plethora of choices starting as low as $3 a pop, including Arturo Fuente, Romeo y Julieta, Monte Cristo, Macanudo and Rocky Patel. An ever-present cigar steward (and occasionally one of the owners) is on hand to help with selections. Not surprisingly, the lounge is heavy on single-malt scotches, cognacs and cordials. The menu, an unintimidating and unsurprising mélange of liquors, is also well-stocked with a number of wines by the glass. The small draft selection boasts a few local favorites. Service is outstanding. At times you feel outnumbered by servers and managers in crisp suits, holding open doors, grabbing you a match, mixing stiff cocktails and offering drink suggestions – all with a good attitude. This comes at a price: Down the street you can get a Jim Beam and ice for $4.50, here you’ll shell out $7.
The Crowd: Masculinity wafts through the air with the smoke, but that’s not to say that Stanley Cigar Co. and Lounge is strictly a boys’ club. Well-heeled ladies abound, dressed to impress and all smiles behind the twirling straws of their vodka tonics. On a weekend night, Stanley fits into the neighborhood scene nicely as a high-end social club of sorts, teeming with attractive clientele and the occasional sports celebrity.
A throwback to traditional lounges drenched in whiskey, laughter and, yes, a bit of smoke, Stanley Cigar Co. and Lounge is quickly becoming a favorite amongst a downtown crowd taking a bit of pleasure in legally thumbing their nose at the tobacco ban.
STL AFTER DARK
Where: Charles P. Stanley Cigar Co. and Lounge, 1000 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.436.3500
When: Tue. to Fri. – 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sat. – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Check It: Enormous walk-in humidor with hundreds of variously priced smokes.
Hipster or Hoosier: A hodgepodge of cigar aficionados, primped gold diggers, trendy loft dwellers and local celebs.
Suds or ’Tinis: Grab a scotch and a stogie.
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