I have taken up a new hobby over the last few months. Late in the week, most often on Fridays, I wrap up work at a reasonable hour to spend an hour or so relaxing quietly with a cigar and a coffee.
Technically speaking, this isn’t a new hobby – I have smoked cigars intermittently since a girlfriend brought me back a box of Cohiba Churchills from their factory in Havana. I later married her, but it wasn’t only because of the cigars. Yet, I digress.
I consider this a new hobby because it has become regular, about weekly – although I wish it were more often. In the ordinary course of events, my Friday diversion takes me to a tobacco shop tucked into the corner of one of the ubiquitous strip malls of northern Virginia’s suburbs. It’s not a large store, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with a fantastic selection and more importantly, a small lounge.
It is here, where amidst leather chairs, wood paneling, and the gently rising cloud of smoke that disappears in the quietly humming ventilator, that I lament the past work week and devise plans for the coming weekend.
The only problem with my newfound haven: it’s a tobacco store and not a bar; thus, a notable absence of adult beverages. In place of my usual Talisker I must make do with a medium decaf from a neighboring Starbucks. In the grand scheme of things coffee isn’t the worst substitute in the world. A dark roast drip or espresso-based Americano pairs decently with a bolder robusto-style cigar.
As anti-smoking laws continue to decrease the number of smoking lounges, this trade-off – enjoying a cigar with a coffee rather than a real drink – will be all the more commonplace. As it stands, there are only a handful of bars in the DC metro region that permit cigar smoking, making it all the more difficult to enjoy a cocktail and a smoke out on the town.
Thankfully it appears more smoke shops and tobacco lounges are popping up, not in large numbers, but enough to offer additional options to casual smokers who are flexible with their drink of choice. Those shops also seem to be setting space aside for a sitting area and introducing weekend beer and wine tastings to enjoy while smoking.
More importantly to me, perhaps, are the warm weather and longer days, which encourage me to freely smoke on my new patio, and drink whatever I choose.