Perhaps when you think of cigar smokers your mind goes to historic figures like Winston Churchill, Ulysses Grant or, for Baby Boomers, Archie Bunker. But if you survey the covers of Cigar Aficionado Magazine, you quickly realize that those who enjoy a fine cigar are much like the connoisseurs of fine wines.
You’ll see sports icons like Michael Jordon and Michael Strahan, along with the full gamut of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Matthew McConaughey and Denzel Washington. Did we mention the ladies like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sharon Stone and Raquel Welch?
According to Tony Nardone, the local aficionado who owns Downtown Melbourne’s iconic cigar destination, the Executive Cigar Shop and Lounge, the comparison to the oenophilia – the one who loves wine – is the closest analogy to those who enjoy an excellent cigar.
“The factors that go into producing a great cigar, from where and when the tobacco is grown, to how it is blended and how a company maintains the consistent taste and aroma that a consumer expects … with so many variables, is really amazing,” Nardone said.
Creating a destination
It was his father that convinced Nardone to come to Florida from the Midwest after a successful stint as a drummer in a band that toured widely. The move began a professional journey from owning a small cigar club to the current location, which is a combination of an elegant glass showroom that transitions into a well-designed and appointed lounge area, where clients can pair their favorite smoke with a craft beer or wine. It also has a ventilation system that Nardone spent more on than most spend on their bar’s décor and furnishings.
“I wanted to create a place where the person who has enjoyed cigars all their life could find the brands they love and the camaraderie and conversation that is part of an establishment like this. But it is also for the individual who has never bought or tried a cigar, where they could come and learn from experts and experience what it is like,” he explained.
Nardone described a good cigar as an opportunity to break from the ordinary and envision yourself on an excursion to one of the exotic locations where these cigars are carefully crafted by award winning experts known around the world. It is one of those simple pleasures that spans cultures and generations that the Executive Cigar Shop and Lounge has captured for the Space Coast’s existing and would be aficionados.