Celebrating Key West’s cigar roots through cigar lounges, cigar shops, and independent cigar manufacturers is a very rewarding local experience.
If the weather is starting to turn chilly in your neck of the woods, then, by all means, make a beeline to Key West for fun, food, and cigars!
Geographically, Key West is situated 128 miles southwest of mainland Florida and 90 miles north of Cuba. Its close proximity to trade routes connecting major ports in the United States, the Caribbean, and the Americas made Key West an ideal destination for business entrepreneurs.
Importing and exporting, fishing, sponging and eventually cigar manufacturing formed the backbone of Key West’s 19th century economy. With Cuban cigar makers immigrating to the island, Key West was known as the “Cigar Capital of the World” in the 1880s.
By the early 1900s, labor strikes, fires, hurricanes, and the depression ended Key West’s domination of the cigar industry. There are still a number of cigar shops and factories that can be found in Key West, however. Cigar rolling in the Cuban tradition has been handed down for generations and will remain a part of Key West for a long time to come.
Rodriguez Cigar Factory
There are dozens of cigar factories on Key West. But the oldest family-run cigar company, established in Cuba in 1947, and the most popular, is the Rodriguez Cigar Factory located on “Cigar Alley” at 113 Fitzpatrick Street. Established in 1971 in Key West, Rodriguez produces 4 lines of their own hand-rolled cigars; the Reserva Privada, Series 84, Series 84 Maduro, and the Vintage 1925 Series. You’re invited to watch their master artisans handcraft cigars in the true Cuban tradition.
At the upscale boutique Gates Hotel, channel the days of Prohibition with specialty rums from First Legal Rum Distiller at the Rum Row Pool Bar and Lounge. Then head over to the hotel’s cigar lounge. The Gates Hotel brings a modern twist to Key West’s long-standing tradition of cigar making with its very own cigar lounge and garden featuring handcrafted Rodriguez Cigars.
Key West Havana Cigar Company
Inside the Speakeasy Inn at 1117 Duval Street you will find Key West Havana Cigar Company. The shop has a walk-in cedar humidor housing their fine cigars. They supply well- known brands such as Arturo Fuente, H. Upmann, Te-Amo, and their own exclusive Dominican line, Key West Havana. Enjoy your cigar while sitting on a comfortable couch in the shop surrounded by old art.
Key West Cigar Club & Smoke Shop
Another must-see is the Key West Cigar Club & Smoke Shop. The owners are very knowledgeable and offer an array of famous names, hard to find cigars, and excellent boutique brands. Padrón, Drew Estates, Rocky Patel, and My Father Cigars are all represented well along with many more. The shop has their own rollers handcrafting cigars with blends of long leaf fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua with an Ecuadorian binder and Connecticut Shade wrapper.
The Cork & Stogie
Laid-back, in Key West style, The Cork & Stogie is located at 1218 Duval Street and offers craft beer, wine, cocktails, cigars, and light snacks. There you can enjoy an ACID Blondie cigar with a local Crazy Lady Honey Blond Ale. Cork & Stogie also has a retail partnership with The Original Key West Cigar Factory.
Whether you are a cigar aficionado, a novice, or just want to explore Key West’s rich Cuban history, celebrating Key West’s cigar-making roots through cigar lounges, cigar shops, and independent cigar manufacturers is a very rewarding local experience.
Be sure to visit El Cigar Shop to find many of the cigars mentioned in this article. There you can buy cigars online at low prices and enjoy the tastes of Key West in your own backyard!