Churchill's Cigar Lounge2415 San Diego Ave.Old Town619-546-7758
You know you're getting old when your prom date is having a baby. No, this isn't another pregnant-man scenario; his sweet wife is the one delivering a baby. But the guy who once donned a pinstriped velvet tux for my prom will soon make me an auntie, and that's an inescapable reminder that my generation is now at the age of houses and babies and—shudder—all that adult stuff. It's customary to give a new dad a cigar, but since I like to indulge myself every once in a while, I thought we'd celebrate and smoke one together. No doubt my mom will be much chagrinned when she reads this since she deems my scotch-drinking and cigar-smoking habits unladylike.
We met up at Churchill's, a cigar lounge in Old Town on a stretch of San Diego Avenue before the start of the main tourist drag (which means there's plenty of parking on the street or in the bar's free underground lot). Churchill's is relatively uncrowded. In the quiet hours of the late afternoon, before the regulars come streaming in, the bar is pretty serene. People tap away on their laptops, taking advantage of the free wi-fi, or relax with a game of chess on the outdoor patio. Inside, the air is full of the warm smells of wood and tobacco. It's a narrow indoor space lined with humidors and private cigar lockers made of mahogany and cedar, capped on one end by a small bar.
The drink list is a long and includes a decent selection of local beer bottles, Belgian imports and a few rotating taps. My only caution here is to skip their private label Churchill's IPA, which is made by Budweiser. There are also a good number of wines, both by the glass and the bottle. The lady behind the bar, who at first welcomed us coolly but warmed up quickly, offered to recommend a beer pairing for me after I'd chosen my cigar, so my friend helped me pick out the moderately priced but still flavorful Don Carlos Reserva No. 4 from Arturo Fuente, which I smoked with a St. Bernardus quadrupel, whose malt and fruit character was nice with the sweet spice of my cigar.
Old Town Gourmet Café, which recently opened next door, serves coffee, self-serve yogurt, gelato and pastries and will also deliver food to Churchill's patio, so I walked over and ordered us a cheese plate for two, laden with an above-average array of gourmet cheese, nuts and fruit. The café can also send over more substantial plates, sandwiches, quiches and sirloin or chicken burger sliders.
As we ate, smoked and drank, my friend told me about his family's future plans, counseled me on career goals and offered some financial advice and gave me the hard-sell on buying an iPhone. When did one of my oldest and dearest friends, who just a couple of years ago was riding a motorbike in Nepal, suddenly grow up and become a businessman? The patio soon filled with the after-work crowd, gathering to watch basketball on the outdoor big-screen TV, where Churchill's often shows movies at night. Since we'd smoked only half of our cigars and had a lot more to catch up on, I got a draft porter from the bar and plate of chocolates from the café, a chocolate tasting that included six truffles, though I substituted a few of those for my preferred sweet-savory treat, salted caramels. At the end of the afternoon, we parted ways; my friend headed home for domestic duties, and I went off to meet some other friends at another bar, our paths divergent but bound to connect again.Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.