The 6 categories upon which we review a cigar bar are below, as well as our definition of each category.
If you are a location owner/manager and would like to provide additional/updated information about your location, or, invite us to return and review you again, please contact us. We understand that businesses continually evolve and improve, and, even the best cigar bars occasionally have a bad night.
Ask yourself one question: would you take a client to this venue? If you answered “YES” then that venue meets the minimum level necessary to be considered for Speakeasy-Approved status. To Speakeasy, a true cigar lounge is not just a cigar store with a few leather sofas. The very best lounges are comprised of durable, & well kept furniture that is comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. The decor is tasteful & generally dark with lots of wood & leather tones. The indoor climate is consistently moderate & smoke ventilation is top notch. A business casual or better dress code is enforced. Patios and tasteful live music are added bonuses.
Cigars are the cornerstone of the Speakeasy experience. Cigars take time to smoke, ensuring that members take time to relax and let down their guard and be themselves versus their usual business front. Each Speakeasy member has different and upscale tastes. So venues with large walk-in humidors containing older go-to brands as well as more unique artisan brands score well with Speakeasy, as does having cigar-saavy personnel on staff. Speakeasy-Approved venues also host frequent events with the cigar maker or cigar representative on site.
Speakeasy members are a sophisticated, picky bunch. Our Aficionados are looking for diversity and lots of inventory. We want to see a good selection of dark beers, wine and spirits. With regard to spirits, we’re looking for no less than 15+ varieties of Whiskies (Scotch, Bourbon, etc.), 3+ Anejo & Extra Anejo Tequilas, and almost anything else aged in a barrel (cognac, etc.). As with cigars, we like to see frequent tasting events for these drinks with the distiller / winemaker / brewer at the event.
“Drinks” covers two areas: 1) the knowledge and skill of the bar staff, and, 2) drink prices. Speakeasy-Approved lounges generally employ mixologists capable of making complex drinks like a Smoked Old Fashion, Mezcal Mule or Ginz Fizz with the freshest of ingredients. For drink prices we’re looking for no more than a 150% increase from retail on wines. For spirits, we’re expecting to see no less than 5 shots to cover the retail cost of the bottle. (e.g. if a fifth has about 17 shots and costs $60 retail, it should have a shot price of no more than $12 per shot)
Food completes the trifecta of vices needed to move a cigar lounge into the Speakeasy-Approved status. We’re not necessarily looking for cigar lounges that are also high quality steak houses (though that would be nice). We are looking for a diverse menu with food that can compete with palettes that are awash in cigar smoke and high-octane spirits. We also judge on the cost of food relative to perceived value. Translation: if you’re not known to be a steakhouse, don’t charge $40 for a steak.
Service is judged on the following criteria in order of priority:
1. Customer Service (attentiveness, pleasant demeanor, etc.)
2. Menu & Bar Knowledge (proper wine bottle opening technique & service temperature, pairing suggestions)
3. Keeping Things Clean (e.g. consistent table cleaning and ashtray dumping)
4. Attractiveness of Staff (well groomed, dressed appropriately, etc.)