I have a face that encourages men to explain things to me. Within minutes of sitting down at a typical cigar lounge, some guy will end up imparting unsolicited and often wildly inaccurate information about spirits, stogies, and sports, all geared to educate my delicate lady-brain. It’s as if they assume I recently escaped from a fundamentalist religious cult ready for a tutorial that begins with “Hey, sweetie. Tom Brady is the one in blue throwing the ball. He is married to Gisele. Can I buy you a kiwi-passionfruit-kumquat daiquiri and a salted caramel-flavored cigar?”
The problem is that in a world of cupcakes and cosmos, my interests lean toward single-malt scotch and a maduro. Having more than a cursory knowledge of things typically held in the dude dominion tends to make any subsequent interaction with Mansplainers Local #817 very awkward. That is what made Silver Leaf Cigar Lounge downtown such a breath of smooth tobacco-filled air. The attentive, knowledgeable staff and regulars are friendly but not intrusive or brutish.
In case you are coming in solo and interested in making some new buddies, grab a bar seat. My happy hour visit this week included a long chat with regular Maurice Floyd, a former college football player and retired Fort Worth police officer turned private investigator. If I ever write a potboiler mystery novel, my lead character will be heavily based on him, right down to his preferred 60-ring gauge smoke that looks less like a cigar and more like a billy club.
Pro football season returns this week, praise be, and the seven screens hovering throughout the open, airy, and well-ventilated space make finding a comfortable watching spot a breeze. Enjoy a smoke with your sports? The humidor is full of expected premium brands like Davidoff, Padrón, Oliva, and Arturo Fuente. On gameday weekends, Silver Leaf’s fully stocked bar of beer, wine, and spirits features mimosas with espresso, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a unique Bloody Mary garnish bar.
I have a love/hate relationship with your typical make-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Much like Jay Cutler, they start out looking good but end up a dumpster fire by the fourth quarter. In contrast, bartender Christina and her equally gregarious coworkers will craft a delicious, fully formed Bloody Mary, leaving you to come in as special teams on garnish. Beyond just traditional celery and olives, Silver Leaf’s self-serve garnish bar has bites like candied bacon and cocktail shrimp to soften the thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Personally, on weekends in the fall, I’m usually a creature of habit. I want a convivial atmosphere to watch the Chicago Bears and the Fighting Irish, a rocks glass of The Balvenie 14-year Caribbean Cask scotch in one hand and an Oliva Serie G Maduro Robusto stogie in the other. But were I to bestow some unsolicited advice on behalf of Silver Leaf Cigar Lounge, switch your drink at halftime to Bruichladdich distillery’s Port Charlotte Islay Barley, a heavily peated, smoky, and bold single-malt scotch. Even if your team goes 8-8 this season (they will), you will still be satisfied. –– Susie Geissler
Follow Susie on Twitter and Instagram @Zens7s.