Tuesday, 20 September 2011

[Lounge - Cigar Lounge] Short Take - The Finer Things: Cognac & Cigar Garden of Dukes Hotel, St. James' Street

Location - Pall Mall, London [UK]

Stumbling along Regent Street, having just concluded a Sake Tasting at the Embassy of Japan on a completely empty stomach, and having comprehensively misjudged the situation of food at the event, I had decided perhaps it would be a good time to dabble in a touch of an elegant cigar and drink, as obviously what my blood content needed right now was even more alcohol and less oxygen. There was method in my apparent madness however, as I was also hopeful that there would be dessert. 

The main prerogative was predominantly on supplanting the Basmati Water annihilation wreaking havoc on my ability for cohesive thought by way of some solid morsel to absorb some fluid, as well as no doubt the inherent joys of losing a foot to Diabetes, however, being in the area and having time to burn aplenty I figured as well to seize the opportunity to scout out one of several Cigar Lounges I was researching on. Seeing as Dukes Hotel was located but a mere paces away, I took the lethargy option, though I decided to walk so I counter that notion to some degree. 

Arriving at the hotel, eventually, as it being placed down a dark, dank alleyway did not strike me as the most obvious place to search, replete with a complete lack of signage, whose situation was only made worse by my prehistoric appliance of a phone that had no internet access [Yes, I'm so 2010], I asked my way to the Cigar Lounge, and immediately asked the question of my utmost importance. Dessert. Do you have it?! To my utter, knee-crippling disappointment however, I was issued with a solemn no, my hopes and dreams dashed, and my levels of bothered waning. Something happened however, and somehow I managed to order a cigar, and an adjoining rum choice to match. Surely not the most intelligent of choices, not now, not when my thinking was being done by Rice water. I was unable however, to say no, and figured, having come thus far, I may as well enjoy the cigar, hope the rum does not finish me off, then take a slightly delayed dessert thereafter. Hope being the imperative word here.

Led through, I was guided into a small clearing of a garden, simple rattan furniture and elegant awnings making the most of the diminutive space. Sat down, comfortable, especially so in temperature considering my apparent reptilian blood temperature of late, I confirmed the order and awaited the fate of this call. There was some company in the garden, engrossed in their quiet conversation, but at once I did not feel at all estranged, gentle music and the rather enveloping set out of the garden imparting a quiet serenity. I was then brought the cigar and copious glass of dark caramel-coloured rum, and an especially welcome sight - an enormous platter of bar nibbles, with some positively huge olives therein. My prayers at least have been partly answered, and I should at least be able to fight off a coma for a while.

Angostura 1824 Rum & Partagas No.4 Serie D

Failing rather dramatically to light the cigar to any meaningful degree, I ventured onto the rum, which presented me a rather delightful set of aromas, more so than I ever remember having sensed from a rum. A bouquet, yes, a fully bouquet, of floral notes combined with plenty [punnets?] of fruit, which all found themselves delicately balanced in the rum itself. This was quite a revelatory drink, and always makes it hard for me to convince myself why I dislike rums, cognacs and other distillates. Though I knew if I kept sipping I would shortly find out, and with the cigar salvaged by one of the Italian clan of waiters, I proceeded. A nice light body of cigar, despite apparently being a full-bodied cigar, showing just what little I know in my fledgling experience. Despite the other immediate priorities, I had merely been sat for a few minutes and already the minutes seemed to have whiled away, time seemed to have slowed down, a genteel pleasure being experienced. 

Out of the blue one of the other company starts questioning me on my apparent eclectic mix of superficial contradictions, asking what a young man, speaking in Italian, smoking a cigar, having come from a sake tasting [after having told him obviously, no shamans here], specifically was. Odd I thought, as I figured a sort of my calibre would have been rued for being, young and, something. A travesty, and such. But the conversation progressed, despite my less than freshness of mind, and my usual lack of social motivations. And this conversation carried on, seemingly at odds that two well to-be gents should feel bothered to entertain a bum in a jacket and terrible hair. It did not seem to matter, feeling incredibly at ease, and especially encouraged by the atmosphere. 

In the midst of this I did not forget my true scope, beyond the exploration of a potential social setting, having promptly devoured the gigantic olives and far too many delectable roasted nuts, hoping I would not be required for a mortgage in order to afford them, considering the affluence of the others present. And on it continued, the conversation oddly bringing several commonalities out, which entertained, despite the worsening state of my mental obfuscation. The pairing of the rum and cigar were absolutely divine, the intense aroma of the rum melding perfectly with cigar, almost working in sync to supplement each other, something I had never particular experienced with cigars before. Before I knew it however, quite a bit of time had whiled away, and having to rely on dreaded Public means of, well, what vaguely constitutes as transport, I had little time to count on if I were to quell my mental, if not physical need for a dessert. Stepping out of the serene and hurrying for a menu, I was met with a rather mundane discovery of rather atrociously boring desserts. These would not do. Salvation however came with the indication of a suggested eatery in the vicinity, The Wolseley, which should hopefully aid in quelling my perpetual hunger, which promptly ensued in...NOW. 

And so it was, that in the midst of a hurried mission for sustenance - more mental than physical - I had happened upon a place where time slowed down, where things of priority mattered little, where finer things were enjoyed amongst the urgency I had entered. Part of the seldom, simpler joys. .

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