I'd heard about Corona Cigar Co. from several people before I took my trip down to Orlando, FL. A few weeks ago, a visitor to New York from Florida overheard me discussing my then upcoming trip and interjected with some great advice, "Check out Corona." There are three locations; I chose the spot in downtown Orlando (no, not the same thing as Downtown Disney).
The description I was given back home in New York was enough to get me interested, but it failed to capture the enormity of the experience. The South Orange Ave. location offers countless cigars from nearly every manufacturer you could imagine. I took advantage of the lower cigar tax relative to home to pick up an Avo Campanero at what felt like a discount and headed for the large in-store lounge. Sponsored by Diamond Crown, it seats more than 60 people without forcing them to bump elbows. There's also outside seating at both four-top tables and wooden rocking chairs.
Every table has a six-page cocktail menu, so there's a pretty good chance you'll find the right concoction to pair with your preferred cigar. Of course, the fact that the bartender is nothing short of stunning improves both the drink and the smoke.
You may not notice the bartender, though, because of the two glass doors immediately to the left your left as you face the bar. One has the label "Pre-Embargo Cuban Cigars." The other: "Prohibition-Era Whiskey." In this closet, you'll also find pre-embargo Cuban rum. To join the party, be prepared to pay. The cheapest cigars I saw started at $150, and the upper end (at least from the price tags I saw) was $750. Opening those doors turns the enjoyment of cigar smoking into sheer decadence.
Back in the retail side of Corona, you'll find the staff to be incredibly helpful. Within 60 seconds of entering the store and starting to wander the aisles, a sales associate was by my side, ready to direct me to the cigars for which I was hunting (and without a modicum of pressure). The team is knowledgeable and efficient - not to mention quite friendly.
So, if you wind up schlepping the kids down to Orlando for a week of theme parks, junk food and general parental hell, carve out some time for yourself, and slip away to Corona Cigar Co., even if only to pick up some sticks for the evening. You'll get a chance to recharge, your only chance at survival. In town on your own? Even better ... no excuses needed!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009