January - February 2010 | Back to Archives

Smokin' Hot

A tony spot in London for cigar aficionados

BY BILL FINK

Where would James Bond go for a really good puff in today's London, where the smoking laws have gotten much stricter? He'd likely stroll from the grounds of Buckingham Palace straight to nearby Hyde Park Corner and the posh Garden Room in The Lanesborough hotel. Partially exposed to the elements (but heat lamp-warmed and roof-covered), the hideaway meets smoking codes while providing an exclusive haven to savor fine cigars and sip rare cognac.

Men in Savile Row suits often crowd into the intimate room. As smoke swirls above, street sounds obscure the murmur of high-dollar deals being struck in a dozen different languages. If Bond sauntered in, bar manager Giuseppe Ruo, affectionately known as "Puff Daddy" for his cigar expertise, would probably pour 007 a glass of the world's oldest known cognac - dated 1770 - believed to be from the Domaine de la Bonneville and priced at more than $6,500 a shot.

The suave spy would sit by the fire and trade quiet barbs with an Arab sheik or an African prince. As James smoked his $2,500 pre-embargo Cohiba Behike cigar, he would recall Giuseppe's advice: "You cannot put a price on the opportunity to experience something this rare."

But that's James Bond's world. More typical high-end cigar/cognac pairings fall in the $300 range.




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