Rosemary and I recently made a trip to London, England where I enjoyed several cocktails and cigars. We started with a trip to my favorite cigar shop in London, James J. Fox. There I enjoyed a couple of cigars, but did not have anything to drink as the shop does not serve cocktails. I smoked a Partagas Habano Serie D No.4 and Bolivar Habano. I enjoyed the Partagas so much I had another one the next day when we returned to the shop for another smoke.
After leaving James J. Fox, we went to the Davidoff Cigar Shop that was just around the corner from James J. Fox. They did not have a place to smoke but I purchased Hoya de Monterey Epicure No.2 and smoked it outside the hotel. I did not have a cocktail with this cigar, but still enjoyed it quite a bit. There were some nice vanilla notes in the smoke with rich tobacco taste.
Next, we had a cigar in the cigar lounge at The Dukes Hotel. There I had a Kentucky Mule cocktail and Rosemary enjoyed a Paper Plane cocktail. I smoked a Montecristo No.2 Habano cigar. It was a very good cigar, but I had trouble with the draw and it smoked a little uneven. The Kentucky Mule was made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and was very good. The hotel bar is famous for their Martini cocktails, but neither of us had one. The lounge was an open courtyard in the middle of the hotel but was covered and has comfortable chairs and a great atmosphere. You have to purchase the cigar from the bar to smoke in the lounge.
Our next stop was on our last full day in London. We decided to go to the cigar lounge at the Ritz Hotel. Once again, you have to purchase the cigar from the Rivoli Bar at the hotel to smoke there. We were served by a very knowledgeable server named Joe Herbert who helped me pick the cigar and recommended the cocktail, I started with Montecristo No.2 Habano cigar and a cocktail called Churchill’s Courage. It is made with Butter Washed Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Ramos Pinto White Port, Maple Syrup, and Vanilla Bitters. It paired very well with the cigar. The cocktail had just a hint of sweetness from the butter and maple syrup that brought out the sweetness of the smoke in the cigar. I enjoyed the cigar quite a bit with its rich vanilla and tobacco with just the right amount of cedar spice in the smoke. We had plenty of time left after smoking the cigar before we needed to be at Twinings Tea for a master class in tea, so I decided to have a second cigar and another cocktail. I opted for one of the hotel’s cigars, a Ritz Churchill cigar that was made with Dominican tobacco and an Aviation cocktail. The cigar was excellent and I liked it so much I brought two home with me. The Aviation cocktail was also excellent and paired well with the cigar. The tartness of the lemon juice in the cocktail brought out some nice spice notes in the cigar smoke.
London is a great city for those who enjoy cigars and cocktails. You can enjoy a Cuban cigar and be assured they are true Cuban cigars. The cocktail scene is excellent. London has always been a place for excellent cocktails, but was made even more so by many American mixologist who came there in the 1920s to escape Prohibition in America. I look forward to our next trip to the city.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach