On an unassuming corner in midtown Manhattan sits one of the last remnant boutiques of the excess and luxury of the 20th century. Business majors and future finance interns take note: back before a bored mayor banned smoking in parks, before Brooklyn real estate became more valuable than sections of the Upper East Side—back before all of that exhausted hedge funders and VPs could drown their sorrows in scotch and steep themselves in cigar smokes in dozens of places across the city.
Nowadays Davidoff Madison is one of the last holdouts, less a respite and more a CEO-centric coffee shop, whose mellow jazz and attentive suit-clad salespeople cater to the smartphone-toting managers trying to step out for a few minutes and recollect their thoughts. The shop has been around for more than a quarter of the century (it moved, a few years ago, from another block). In that time it’s picked up some impressive clientele. http://www.davidoffmadison.com/
The Madison Avenue store caters to about a dozen cliches, from celebrities and foreign businessmen to owners of New York sports franchises. While the rest of the city has politely told cigar lovers to fuck off, Davidoff has kept a hat-tipping atmosphere open in more than one location across the Big Apple.
It’s no surprise, really, that this is one of the brands that survived all that purge. In a time when most average smokers are buying a cigar or two at a time, Davidoff’s customers buy boxes, and have them shipped to second homes and conference venues ahead of schedule.
Store General Manager Luis Torres was close-mouthed about sales numbers and clients, but he gave some insight into what everyone buys from the business major’s favorite brand.
You might be taking a finance job, or just an internship—maybe you’ve never been to the city and have no itnerest in all the glitz—but if you want a taste of the high life, here’s what the penthouse owners are packing their humidors with:
The No. 1 Seller: Davidoff Special R
Yes, it’s a Davidoff store so it follows that many of their best-selling products will be their own brands. But before you go all Wolf of Wall Street on me, keep a few things in mind: the movie Wall Street made the Davidoff brand the number one among aspiring American psychos. Those Cuban Davidoffs cemented an obsession similar to the contrast collar in audience and vigor. The Special R is the most convenient size, the most enjoyable format (in the opinion of more than one CEO) and the best value in the entire White Label portfolio. No wonder it’s bought by the box. [$20.56]
The Dark Horse: Davidoff Nicaragua Toro
A new-to-the-brand line of tobacco the company had never worked with before, Davidoff Nicaragua has won tons of accolades for being the best smoke the company has created in the last decade. It’s also one of the cheaper options, and what it drops in prestige it makes up for in bourbon-friendly pairing options. [$19.65]
The Statesman: Cuban Romeo y Julieta
We covered the re-release of the Winston Churchill line a few months ago. Already the Toro is closing in on sales. Its white-label appearance and quality have piqued some interest among clients who’ve never strayed from their go-to smokes, so all that marketing must have worked. Out of titular respect we’d like to recommend this one for pairing with scotch and port, but the truth is it’s fine with anything, or on its own. [$19.31]
The Competitor: Padrón 1964 Exclusivo Maduro
Torres wasn’t the least bit apologetic in saying that the Padrón 1964 Exclusivo Maduro is a top seller at the Davidoff store. The Padrón brand’s long-aged tobaccos and high price points command a hefty price, while the understated box and band go more to the “speak softly” theory of expressing your wealth. Oh, it’s also an incredible smoke—more full-bodied than anything else on this list, but certainly not a kick to the custom-tailored pants, if you will. [$15.40]
The Connoisseur’s Choice: Illusione Epernay Le Taureau
While everyone else on this list has garnered success through branding, the Illusione Epernay Le Taureau is the truest connoisseur’s smoke. A boutique blend made by Illusione master craftsman Dion Giolito, Epernay and its award-winning Le Taureau size is one of those smokes that kept the sales team talking about it for so long that the cult-following spread to its customers—an impressive break-in, when you consider how entrenched the local market really is. Execs take note: you gotta love when the product sells itself. [$14.85]
The Honorable Mention: Davidoff Madison, My Father Belicoso
While all of the above cigars are available in hundreds of locations across the country, being the big store has some perks—like shop exclusives. Davidoff Madison Avenue has two tasty local flavors, including a Davidoff brand shop smoke, and an exclusive belicoso cigar made only for the store by My Father Cigars S.A. of Nicaragua. Anyone who knows My Father knows that they put a lot of love into what they make for their friends. [$28.56, $12.88]