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The Cigar Bar

For many people, summer officially begins on the Fourth of July. New Yorkers are no exception. Manhattanites tend to regard the shrieks and pops of Independence Day fireworks as a clarion call to head east to the storied shores of the Hamptons, the stretch of tony towns on the south fork of Long Island.

Sag Harbor is off the main drag connecting the towns of the Hamptons along the south fork's Atlantic shoreline. Here, you're never more than a stone's throw from the water--not the heavy surf of the ocean but the calming waves of Sag Harbor Bay. Take a drive there and you'll end up winding around the rotary that keeps the traffic peace near the center of town. Look up as you're making the turn, and there's The Cigar Bar.

Like Sag Harbor itself, The Cigar Bar is small and cozy. It has but 20 seats, including those at the small bar, but it beckons to the cigars shop. The interior is dark and eclectic. Pencil sketches of Sir Winston Churchill glare down from the walls, stained glass lights sit aside all manner of ashtrays on tiny tables and dark Oriental rugs fight for space on the floor. If you have a gift with the ivories, play a tune on the aged upright piano sitting by the bar, which stocks the standard fare of Scotch, Cognac and Bourbon. The entire lounge looks as if everything came from a classy Hamptons garage sale.

Much of the room's real estate is taken up by the walk-in humidor, with its terra-cotta floor and shelves of name-brand smokes. On a July 4 visit, there were Macanudo, Montecristo, La Gloria Cubana, Partagas, Padron, Fonseca, Montecruz, Avo, Hoyo de Monterrey and Don Diego cigars to choose from, among others.

To locals, The Cigar Bar is more a neighborhood cigar store than it is a corner bar. Who can blame them for stocking up? The prices here are more like a cigar store than a typical cigar bar: Fonseca Triangulares sell for $7.60 each, La Aurora Robustos are $6, Avo No. 8s are $7.80, La Gloria Cubana Torpedo No. 1s are $9 and Partagas Robustos are $5.95. Henry Clay Brevas, as untrendy a cigar as you can find but full of flavor, sell for $4.25 each. All the cigars were properly humidified, but a couple looked as though they had been through the ringer. These damaged smokes need to be weeded out.

No food is served here, but if you're into relaxation, The Cigar Bar is a perfect place to park for an early evening smoke before dinner. The action picks up after midnight, especially during the frantic high season of a Hamptons summer.

Monday, July 06, 1998

The Cigar Bar