A renowned Boston steakhouse has returned to one of its roots of hospitality: Grill 23 & Bar has partnered with established tobacconists L.J. Peretti to offer an exclusive cigar service. Nine different cigars can now be purchased by and prepared for guests at the end of a meal.
The cigars range from $15 - $75, such as the Davidoff flagship, Classic No. 2 ($36), a light-bodied, nutty cigar with notes of wood and leather; Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon ($18), a medium-bodied smoke with coffee notes, sweet wood flavors, and light spice; and Padron Anniversary Imperial ($36), full-bodied and sweet, with caramel and leather notes.
Prior to a 2004 ban on smoking inside Massachusetts bars, Grill 23 sold fine cigars, hosted cigar dinners, and even had some rooms fitted as smoking areas, Master Sommelier and wine director Brahm Callahan said via email. A Boston Magazine review archived on Cigaraficionado.com said, "The waitstaff [was] as knowledgeable about the tobacco as they are the cuisine."
The service "was a significant portion of our total sales, [but] when the ban on smoking came into effect we stopped selling cigars entirely," Callahan said. But, a fine tobacco product can really make an occasion, he added. Since many guests view dinner at the steakhouse a special event, "It is an excellent service we can offer to our guests as an added step of hospitality to differentiate ourselves from everyone else."
A press release notes Grill 23 is the first restaurant in Boston to offer such service, and it joins an elite few in the U.S. The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; Charley’s Steak House in Orlando, Fla.; and State Social House in Hollywood, Calif., currently sell cigars.
The Master Sommelier designation, which Callahan recently earned, includes a section on cigar production; Callahan said he has always enjoyed a good cigar and previously worked in the tobacco industry.
While the restaurant has no current intention to establish itself as a cigar bar, the new service provides the products to guests in a tableside humidor, and the cigars can either be prepared to be smoked later that evening, or sealed for future use.