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Old 06-25-2005, 03:47 PM   #1
CigarBoy's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: 654 Keeneland Way, Montgomery, Alabama 36109
Posts: 264
My New Orleans Cigar Tour

Because so many of you were nice enough to give me advice about the best places to buy and smoke cigars in New Orleans, I spent much of my four day vacation marching around the French Quarter with camera in hand documenting my cigar seeking adventures. I hope the information and photos I gathered will be helpful to other BOTLs who plan to visit the Big Easy.

A gallery of my search for French Quarter cigars can be found here http://galleries.cigarweekly.com/Cig...ter-Cigar-Tour

I did happen to find one great cigar store in the French Quarter, visited both locations of the Cigar Factory and walked out of one “tobacconist” made as Hell about the way they were ripping off newbies who don’t know better.

Sorry, in advance, that this is so wordy and detailed.

My best experience, overall, was happening upon Crescent City Cigar Shop located at 730 Orleans Avenue between Royal and Bourbon Streets. It’s a beautiful shop and one that owner Armando Ortiz takes obvious pride in. It has a nice sized walk-in humidor stocked with pretty much everything you could want. It had Pardon ’64 and ’26 Anniversaries; Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, Hemingway and Sungrown Chateaus; the Diamond Crown Maximus line, Ashton VSGs, and La Gloria Cubanas and their Serie R, just to name a few.

In addition to having the best selection and highest quality lines of cigars I found in the French Quarter, Crescent City Cigar Shop had, by far, the best prices. Rather than gouge the tourists like most other cigar shops in the Quarter, Armando sells his sticks only a dollar or so above MSRP, which he explained was necessary to cover the very high rent retailers must pay landlords in that area.

I spent the better part of an afternoon sitting in the shop, smoking an Opus X Reserva d’Chateau and talking with Armando about his business and life in the Quarter. It was interesting to learn that his shop, which had grown steadily since opening about 7 years ago, almost went out of business after September 11, 2001 because the tourism industry in New Orleans dried up dramatically following the attacks. He also mentioned that actor
Laurence Fishburne (aka Morpheus in the Matrix movies) owns an apartment around the corner and is a usual customer. Peter “Robocop” Weller is another regular.

As noted above, I’ve posted pictures of Armando’s shop, and other places I visited, in my CW Photo Gallery located here http://galleries.cigarweekly.com/Cig...ter-Cigar-Tour

The shop’s website is www.cccigarshop.com

Sidenote: Harry Anderson, who played Judge Harry T. Stone on “Night Court” for eight years and starred in “Dave’s World” for four years, owns a magic shop about a block away from CC Cigar Shop on Chartres. In case anyone would like to meet him, he is usually there everyday, except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the store is closed.

Another pleasant experience was my visit to the New Orleans Cigar Factory, which was recommended by several of the members on this board. Their main shop is located at 415 Decatur Street with a much smaller store also located on Bourbon Street. The store has a great atmosphere with a smoking area, a glassed-in aging room, a walk-in humidor and a long table at which local torcedores make three lines of cigars by hand. The back of the store houses a small museum exhibit detailing the long history of cigar making in New Orleans with boxes and labels of brands long defunct.

As noted above, the cigar factory produces three kinds of cigars – Plantation Reserve, a Connecticut wrapped mild bodied cigar; Vieux Carre, a Cameroon wrapped medium-bodied blend; and Tres Hermanos, a full-bodied smoke with a Mexican Maduro wrapper. I purchased a couple of each kind and smoked the Tres Hermanos, which translates to “three brothers,” that night. Being a fan of full-bodied cigars and surprised by the even burn, perfect draw and overall quality of the hard-to-roll torpedo, I bought a box of 10 at their Bourbon Street location the next day.

If anyone is interested, the Bourbon Street location is across from Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, which I found out is very cigar friendly. . .and so are the girls. At midnight on Satruday, there was a line of tourists waiting to buy a cigar from the Bourbon Street store and another line waiting to get into the Hustler Club to smoke them.

The cigar factory website is at www.cigarfactoryneworleans.com

Not all of my cigar experiences were great, however, as I did get mad and walk out of Kingfish Cigars, which previously operated under the names Big River Trading Company and Epitome Cigars. The store, located at 631 Royal Street, does not have a walk-in humidor and chooses, instead, to house its cigars in humidified glass cabinets that line the walls. They have an ample smoking area with couches and a TV tuned to ESPN. I was not blown away by the selection, which did include some Ashton, the new Peterson and a selection of Macanudo.

What angered me, however, and caused me to leave without spending a dime was the fact that their most prominently displayed cigar, and one they obviously encourage people to buy, is the dreaded yellow and black label Dominican Cohiba. While I was there, one of the young guys working in the store was steering an obvious newb in that direction. If anything makes me madder than jacking up the prices, it’s trying to trick and deceive tourists and novices into buying that crap. Stuff like that hurts our hobby, and I refuse to patronize any tobacconist that deals those cigars.

I did snap a photo of the cigars and have posted them in my gallery, as well.

Lots of convenience stores and the voodoo store across from Pat O'Brien's also carry cigars, but their prices are outrageous and the care and humidity of the cigars is questionable, at best.

A great place to smoke cigars in the Quarter is the Le Booze bar at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. My wife and I visited twice during our trip and people watched through the open doors facing Bourbon. The bar, which encourages cigar smoking, has a great ventilation system and cigar ashtrays, cutters and matches for those who need them. They have a bar-top humidor and a cigar menu available for anyone who asks, but be forewarned that their prices are sky high. A Double Chateau Fuente will set you back $16.50 at the bar. It’s better, and cheaper, to bring your own.

Also note that Le Booze is located directly across the street from Rick’s Cabaret which allows you to smoke your cigar while watching strippers dance in the window as they attempt to entice passers-by inside.

I’d like to report that Holy Smokes Café has apparently gone out of business. I spent the better part of an evening marching up and down St. Louis Street looking for the place without success. Armando later told me the place had shut down.

My wife and I did stumble upon Gennifer Flower’s Kelsto Club, which is owned and operated by Bill Clinton’s first public mistress. The club, located at 720 St. Louis, is not very big but they do have a great jazz pianist and Gennifer, herself, performs nightly at 9:30 p.m. While we were there, she sat at our table for a while, wished my wife a happy birthday and had a nice conversation. I hope her club is successful because someone has to pay for the numerous cosmetic operations she has had.

Once again, thanks for all of the advice prior to my trip, and I hope this thread will help inform others who are planning a trip to the Big Easy in coming months.
If a guy hasn't got any gamble in him, he isn't worth a crap. - Evel Knievel
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