Before I begin this review, I want to make something clear. I am well-aware of the dangers of smoking. In fact, my father, who smoked three to four packs a day for decades, died of lung cancer. Smoking is bad, but for people such as myself, it’s a vice that we embrace much like others would embrace drinking or other high-risk behavior.
That being said, I am a very heavy hookah smoker and love my tobacco a little bit too much for my own good. Cigars were always a vice of mine as well, but up until recently, I never really got into them. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them; it was because people around me just didn’t “get” them.
It takes a certain type of person to love smoking a cigar, to love feeling the spicy flavor of a good puff or enjoy the heady rush you get from a clean smoke. It also takes a certain type of person to understand how relaxing sitting back with a glass of bourbon can be while you puff away.
As an urban-dwelling Millennial, most people around me didn’t really get it. Cigars are stigmatized compared to other tobacco forms. People don’t try them. They don’t get the wonderful drink pairings they offer, nor do they understand how wonderful they can make you feel. It was isolating.
Cigar smoking is a sophisticated type of smoking—not unlike hookah or fine cannabis. It’s something that has many nuances, which is why it was traditionally associated with extreme wealth in the 19th century. I’d liken a cigar habit to enjoying the taste of a fine merlot; it’s an acquired taste that grows on you very quickly.
I only recently found out that a good friend of mine shared my passion for cigars. So, when Tom took me to my first cigar cafe, I knew was in for a treat. This place, he explained, wasn’t just a store to buy Diamond Crowns. Rather, it was a cafe with its own community and style.
Prior to this moment, I’ve never been in a place where you could light up cigars among fellow aficionados. I was stoked, but didn’t know what to expect. Thanks to High End Cigars, I can never go back to smoking solo again.
A Cigar Wonderland
Cigar smokers tend to be a very unique crowd. They are known for appreciating old school aesthetics. They are fans of luxury, and yet, also tend to be a little edgier in their classy way. High End Cigars & Cafe is a venue that understands that and decorates accordingly.
Simply put, this place feels like the epitome of luxury.
Leather seats dot the floor, with one specially elevated seat available for shoe shine service—or, you know, a good photo opportunity if you want to feel a bit baller. In the back, bar stools dot a counter where an espresso machine sits.
A table specifically for card games sits near the front. Large flatscreen televisions (on a quiet volume) line the walls without crowding them. The first steps you take in that store make you feel like you were transported into a fine restaurant; you can’t even smell the cigar smoke thanks to their ventilation system.
High End keeps the pointedly old school vibe of cigar culture alive in its decor, and yet avoids the mistake of making things look garish. It’s modern yet classic, opulent yet classy.
A Social Spot, For Sure
Artsy accents top tables, right next to silver chrome ashtrays that stand right next to your seat. The tables are made of finely varnished wood, and sitting right on top are cigar cutters. It’s clear that this place is meant for socializing, and socialize people do.
Even in the middle of the day, you can see people lounging around here, talking about anything from sports to business. It’s the kind of cigar spot that people often hear about, but need to see to believe.
This was a venue that exuded status, with a side of warm community. People came up to say hello and ask about my favorite cigars. Tom looked at me and said, “I’ve done everything from business networking, to card night, to date night here. I think you can understand why I love this place.”
I did, immediately. It’s a place you go when you want to impress someone. Or hang out. Or talk to your fellow cigar aficionados. It felt like home, and yet felt like a resort. People quickly get to know your name, and yet, the luxury always hangs in the air.
Holy Humidor, Batman!
Right in an adjacent room is a walk-in humidor, filled to the brim with high-end cigars just waiting to be smoked. The humidor is made of the best wood, and once in a while, you can see the water mist get sprayed near the cigar boxes.
The selection of cigars here put my typical go-to store to shame. A cigar fan like myself would easily go broke here. Tom then mentioned that they have a membership program that offers you a discount on cigars. For regulars who want a good smoke spot, this is definitely a good investment.
Delicious Coffees, Decadent BYOB Service
We sat down in the chairs after Tom grabbed a couple of cigars. But, something was missing. If you’re like me, you have a certain favorite drink you like to enjoy while you light up. For me, I’m a fan of a good cappuccino or espresso. For Tom, it was a glass of good bourbon.
High End is a BYOB establishment, but they still make it easy for people to enjoy their goods the right way. Members are offered up lockers with their own keys where you can store favorite drinks, smoke supplies, or snacks.
Tom headed into a room past the humidor, where lockers lined each wall. He took a key, and opened the locker. There sat a bottle of fine bourbon. The staff then offered us two glasses complete with a slow-melting ice sphere, so we could enjoy our liquor traditionally.
Being an avid caffeine addict, I ordered an espresso from the coffee bar. The espresso was divine, and came with two packets of sugar for a little sweetener. Honestly, non-smokers would probably fall in love with the coffee here alone.
No matter what you drank or smoked in this store, the one thing that stood out at High End is the service. Here, the owners know your name. People here go out of their way to make sure you have a great time here. Everything is spotless, and handled with care.
A Cigar Cafe That Lives Up To Its Name
High End Cigars is not just a cigar store, nor is it just a cafe. Ever since it opened its doors in January of this year, it’s become one of the best-kept secrets for people who love a great smoke in an incredible venue.
If you want to see how cigar stores should be, or if you want to help a smoker understand cigar culture, you need to go to High End Cigars. This venue represents everything that cigar culture should be—and is.
Check them out their website: https://www.highendcigarsnj.com/