A year ago, I visited one of my first cigar stores ever: Baltimore’s Cross Street Tobacco. A very laid back place, it was quiet and friendly. This past week I ended up back in Baltimore and decided to visit it again. I went to Ropewalk Tavern, one of only two restaurants in Maryland where you can enjoy a cigar, on Sunday night. It turned out to be one of the not-so-great nights as the local team lost to the Minnesota Vikings’ in a nail-biter of a game. The food was what I call standard pub fare: fried chicken wings slathered in hot sauces of varying degrees, burgers, etc. The smoking section, the 3rd level in an area called the Smoke Easy Lounge, is filled with comfortable, worn sofas and large screen TVs. I enjoyed a soda while watching the Patriots pummel the Tennessee Titans (by the end of the first half, I was beginning to wonder if this was a basketball game or something based on the score). It was a friendly atmosphere and certainly worth going back, especially if there is a gaggle of people.
But oddly enough, I went back to Cross Street. Mostly I wanted to see if they had anything new and I did like the cheap store brand. I went on Tuesday night and the place was definitely hopping and busy. I was already smoking a cigar when I walked in so I settled down to finish it and quietly listened to the conversation going on. At one point, I was offered a sip of some nice 15 year old GlenLivet (it was someone’s birthday and they were sharing). I couldn’t resist and enjoyed a very small cup full (maybe 2-3 sips) as I didn’t want to intrude on the celebrations. It was incredibly smooth and flavourful. I knew what I’d like to get my uncle for the holidays to enjoy because of this. I had enjoyed the conversation and company so much I came back again. Because of work, it’d have to wait until Thursday. As it turned out, that was a good thing.
On the Thursday, the store had an Olivia event where you could win schwag (shirts and hats) and get some good deals. I ended up getting some Nubs, Olivias and Cain cigars (the humidor is now full beyond the brim!). Depending on what you purchased would determine how many entries into the draw for schwag you’d get. I got 12. They also had some nice finger foods, beer and other goodies to enjoy throughout the night. I ended up, because of my purchase, with a Olivia t-Shirt and a Nub “Fidel” cap. I also won a Nub classic cap (think 1930s). I have to admit: I look damn good in it. I met the same crew as on the Tuesday night and they invited me to join them on Friday for their Bourbon night. As it turned out, I was able to attend. As a result I was able to sample some nice beer and a couple of bourbons. My girlfriend commented that it’s a good thing we don’t live in Baltimore as she’d never see me. And you know, she’s right. This is why the brick and mortar cigar stores should be supported and why they are needed. They are a community place for cigar aficionados to enjoy good conversation and bonding together, regardless of political affiliation, background, race, religion, etc.
If you are in the Baltimore area or will be visiting soon, definitely put Cross Street on your list of places to visit. Best days are Tues/Thurs and Fri. Bring a bit of your favourite to drink and share and tell ’em the short Canadian guy says hi!