The Habanos Smoking Club
By: Roberto F. Campos / Photos by Ferval
Brought together by the pleasure of savoring the world's best premium cigars— Cuban habanos —smokers from all over the world have their own clubs, and many of them periodically visit Cuba to sample these marvelous cigars where they are made. Smoking habanos is almost a religious ceremony, with special rituals that are most comfortably carried out in the company of friends, colleagues and family.
That is why, in many places around the world, premium cigar aficionados create their own smoking clubs. For some, it is a secret spot in a family home or shared residence, while for others, it involves a luxury dinner or a trip across borders to indulge in this pleasure.
A very special smoking route
One essential destination for members of many of these clubs is Havana, the Cuban capital, and the headquarters of the main factories that produce the country's best brands. It is an oasis in the desert of anti-smoking laws and a city full of nuances and ways of enjoying a good smoke.
The Casa del Habano Partagás, located on the ground floor of the Partagás Cigar Factory, is one of the oldest and most emblematic spots for these gatherings of habano smokers. It is housed in the same building where the Partagás cigar brand was created in 1845, one of the most popular produced by the international corporation Habanos S.A., which distributes its cigars in more than 125 countries.
There, too, the Casa del Habano Partagás Club of Friends and Clients (Club de Amigos y Clientes) was created. The club holds two annual gatherings, in April and November, and participants include clients, solo smokers and organized groups from all over the world.
The meetings have been taking place since the creation of the Casa del Habano Partagás store back in 1991. Subsequently, in 1993, the store became part of the Casas del Habano chain of Habanos S.A. franchises. There are more than 140 of these outlets around the globe.
Along with the Club of Friends and Clients, which was established in 1998, there is another circle of admirers: Pasión Habano (Habano Passion), which was founded by smokers from Spain. They come to visit the Casa del Habano.
Partagás at different times of the year to learn more about the production of Cuban cigars, chat with cigar rollers and enjoy a habano or two. The annual Partagás gatherings usually attract some 800 people from Spain, France, the United States, Brazil and other nations, demonstrating the good health of these clubs all over the planet.
In addition to clubs that meet in Cuba, there are many others, such as one in Curaçao that meets in the restaurant Mr. Congas, which serves Cuban and international food and which recently paid tribute to the legendary late Cuban singer—and cigar roller and smoker—Compay Segundo.
In Madrid, one good example of this type of club is the Churchill Club, which organizes smoking sessions and pairings for followers of elbuenhabano.com, a website that regards the quality of Cuban cigars with nothing short of reverence.
The Churchill Club, which meets at the Klimt Gin Club on Capitán Haya street, has seating for 28 and a capacity for 50 cocktail-style, all exquisitely decorated in Art Deco. Its humidor includes a dozen types of habanos and other varieties of cigars, but its members seem to prefer the Cuban cigars for their quality.
In Argentina, where you can enjoy the traditional tango and milonga music and dance, you can also enjoy habanos at the Cohiba Atmosphere Buenos Aires, a gathering that became famous with the help of the Bodegas Fabré Montayou winery.
At this club, you can combine a cigar from Cuba with a Glenfiddich single malt whiskey.
In addition to the clubs mentioned in this article, gatherings of habanos lovers can be found in France, Italy, Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Europe, as well as in Africa, Latin America and Asia, especially Japan. In short, these clubs can be found everywhere in the world, and you can also create your own if you like. Some are always open, and others meet periodically, but one thing is guaranteed: a Cuban cigar is the center of attention at meetings, get-togethers of family and friends, and above all, smoking sessions.