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Whisgars Bar

Smoking Cigars in Bangkok: Top Places to Visit

Nicholas Peth

Photo: Samuel Spurr | The Blind Pig Cigar Lounge fits perfectly with Muse Nicholas Peth

Situated on the top floor of Hotel Muse, the Blind Pig cigar lounge is the perfect place to indulge and escape a day of exploring Bangkok. “The cigar lounge fits perfectly with who we are,” says Nicholas Peth, Hotel Muse’s general manager. With 1920s styling through- out the hotel, the top floor cigar venue has a selection of over 50 gins and an equal number of rums and whiskies to accompany your cigar. Nicholas recommends the Old Fashioned with smoked bacon and thyme from the bar. But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, expert bartenders can whip up a cocktail to pair with your cigar. “There’s been a noticeable shift towards younger patrons at the Blind Pig, with small, intimate groups enjoying the lounge,” Peth continues. “Complimentary smoking jackets are offered to guests, which adds to the mood, while a humidor stocked predominantly with Cuban cigars caters to those who want a cigar on the spur of the moment.” With lots of tourists and well-heeled locals in this part of Bangkok, the Davidoff shop at Gaysorn Village does a solid trade, according to Suthep Taerattanachai of Davidoff Thailand. He admits that many customers seek Cubans as they feel they are the best, but this mindset is changing with more appreciation of the recent Davidoff releases such as the Davidoff Nicaragua, Escurio, and 702 range. Suthep and I stroll down to DUKE, a contemporary art gallery, complete with bar, cigar lounge, and two private lounges for members. DUKE was named the best cigar lounge of 2017 by BK Magazine and it’s easy to see why. The art gallery showcases local artists’ works while hosting monthly cigar and pairing events. “DUKE recently welcomed guests to pair the Davidoff Short Perfecto with J. Dupont VSOP,” Suthep tells me, as he plays tour guide around the venue. “My Davidoff clients are luxury-lifestyle-oriented older gentlemen, however a new wave of thirty-something smokers are making their presence known,” he says as we enjoy a Davidoff Nicaragua Short Corona. 

La Casa del Habano

Photo: Samuel Spurr | La Casa del Habano Bangkok, located in the Mandarin Oriental, mainly caters to hotel guests and is the perfect place for before- or after-dinner cigars

Make your way across the road past the well-known Hindu Erawan Shrine to the lower lobby level of the Grand Hyatt Erawan to be welcomed by Ms. Aom, who manages The P&L Club. The club is named after Pacific Cigar Company’s Asia-wide membership club, however the 1940s-inspired bar and two cigar lounges welcomes non-members just as warmly. There’s plenty of chrome and glass styling and, sitting at the bar, you’d be tempted to order a milkshake and burger, such is the classic diner atmosphere created. However, Hibiki, Old Malt Cask, and Com- pass Box whiskies cater to more mature tastes. The walk-in humidor stocks a vast collection of Cuban cigars, while a handpainted mural of an old-world club sets the mood. Pacific Cigar Company’s Ann Lekachinabutr notes that Thailand is not immune to the trend of bigger ring gauge cigars. “There’s a new generation coming to cigar venues after work. Many newcomers are moving away from cigarettes and cigarillos to venture into the premium cigar world and seeking larger ring gauge cigars.” 

 

THE CLUBHOUSE 

A two-story mansion set off the street provides Cohiba Atmosphere Bangkok with a clubhouse feel. Walk down the corridor past the walk-in humidor, walk-in whisky room, and wine cellar to reach the sweeping staircase that takes you to the Balvenie Bar and two private cigar rooms upstairs. The bar is styled perfectly for whisky and cigar appreciation and, if it wasn’t for the jazz hopping out of the speakers and the humidity outside, you’d think you were in a Scottish lodge – making it the perfect place to enjoy a dram. The bar stocks 340 single malt and blended whiskies by the glass and 150 by the bottle. Joe Thawilvejjakul, Pacific Cigar Company’s regional director oversees what was the eighth Cohiba Atmosphere opened in the world, which welcomes guests and is limited to 100 members. In 2017, the lounge was a Cigar Trophy finalist for Best Cigar Lounge. “We enjoy a fast turnover, and our private lounges are frequently booked by members for business events and private functions,” says Joe. “Some lounges are too heavy, too opulent, and feature too much leather – I think we have the styling perfect here.” 

Thailand is not new to cigars, as it has always been part of the noble class; indeed, King Rama V regularly enjoyed cigars in the late 19th century, notes Joe. “The local Thai market is not into collecting as much as Hong Kong is, however local cigar lovers choose to enjoy cigars socially. Cubans dominate the market, but there is growing interest in non-Cubans. I believe a rise in cigar culture is good for everyone,” explains Joe, who has been with Pacific Cigar Company for 21 years and started its Thailand operation. “Cohiba Atmosphere is a cozy place, a home away from home for guests that also hosts premium product launches and private parties.” 

 

Hillman Lentz

Photo: Samuel Spurr | Hillman Lentz has developed three Whisgars locations in Thailand, one of which hosts the Bangkok qualifier of the World Cigar Smoking Championship

TOWARDS SILOM 

Through two Whisgars venues in Bangkok and a recently opened Whisgars tasting room franchise on the holiday resort island of Phuket, Hillman Lentz has pursued his vision of opening whisky and cigar venues to everyone. “Whisgars at Sukhumvit predominately caters to expats, while the Silom venue is located in an area that is quickly becoming a drinking and dining district,” he says. He attests that the cigar scene is growing in Bangkok, as 15 years ago, when he first arrived, there were only four places to enjoy a cigar. Now, almost all hotels feature a cigar lounge, and there are several stand-alone venues. Lentz says that importing tobacco into Thailand involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy but, despite this, more people are starting to appreciate cigar culture. Whisgars Silom has hosted the Cigar Smoking World Championship Bangkok qualifier since 2017, which has been a popular addition to their busy calendar of events. Situated in the Mandarin Oriental, La Casa del Habano is in an enviable position, opening onto a terrace that leads down to the banks of the Chao Phraya River. “Seventy percent of the lounge’s visitors are hotel guests, with Regional and Limited Edition Cuban cigars most popular,” says manager Ms. Whan. The colonial-style lounge features huge fans slowly pulling cigar smoke upwards, while leather and cane furniture feature throughout, adding a distinct tropical Thailand vibe. The Bamboo Bar next door supplies drinks and food to the lounge, making it a spot of choice throughout the evening. 

 

Shops & Clubs 

The Blind Pig

Hotel Muse
55/555 Langsuan Road Lumphini
www.hotelmusebangkok.com

Davidoff Bangkok

999 Phloenchit Road
Gaysorn Village
Lumphini, Pathum Wan

Duke

999 Phloenchit Road
Gaysorn Village
Lumphini, Pathum Wan

Whisgars Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit 23
Klong Toey
Wattana 
www.whisgars.com

Whisgars Simon 

981 Simon Road
Silmon
www.whisgars.com

Cohiba Atmosphere

63 Soi Ruam Ruedi
Lumphini 

La Casa del Habano

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Bangkok
48 Oriental Avenue
Bang Rak

Pacific Cigar Divan

Browne Plaza Hotel
952 Thanon Rama IV
Silmon

P&L Club 

Grand Hyatt Erawan
494 Rajdamri Road
Lumohini

This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2018. Read more

Samuel Spurr

Samuel Spurr has been Cigar Journal’s Asia-Pacific contributor since his first feature on the Australian cigar scene in 2006. Regularly writing, Tweeting, and Instagramming about cigars, he’s recognized in Australia as a cigar authority and frequently hosts cigar master classes.


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