From Vinoteque to The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge [our impressions]

Some time ago, Vinoteque Food & Wine – our favourite cigar lounge and restaurant in Sopot – was closed. We have always had great memories connected with the place, as it was hospitable, warm and had a lot to offer. While planning to set up Cigar&Tie, we had our first meeting there. It was Vinoteque where we spent a lot of time together, made friends with a lot of people and enjoyed many great cigars. Therefore, the news about its end came to us as a blow.

You may only imagine our happiness when it occurred that Vinoteque Food & Wine will be converted into a new entity almost exclusively dedicated to cigars and alcohol. Last weekend, I had an opportunity to have a pre-opening smoke there and so I would like to share my thoughts on the soon-to-be officially opened The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge in Sheraton Sopot.

New name & location

The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge seems too long and somewhat too complicated for marketing purposes, however, I have to admit that taking into consideration the location (5-star Sheraton Sopot Hotel), there is a hint of sophistication in it. Not to mention the fact that it represents theduality of its purpose – a shop and a lounge.

As it was earlier mentioned, the lounge is located in Sheraton Sopot Hotel, at 10 Powstańców Warszawy Street. You may enter it either from the main lobby having a small walk through the hotel’s corridors, or taking the more convenient option and entering from outside through Dom Zdrojowy Sopockie Galeryjki.

Interior

Let me now take you for a journey around its interior, which changed a bit in comparison with Vinoteque. The wide, well-lit bar is now located on the opposite side of the lounge, so the first thing you notice just after getting in are round tables surrounded by red upholstered armchairs– along with the brick walls and wooden shelves, it sets the tone of a well-designed space. However, I feel that for a 5-star hotel, it could consist of more leather elements (armchairs?), which are timeless and always pair well with elegant cigar lounges.

The bar itself has already been full of precious bottles, which looks amazing. From the main space, you may enter the old cigar lounge – the cosier space which stayed almost the same – there are some new pieces of furniture and a full humidor luring guests with its gems.

Cigars & more

Let me start with beverages and meals. As it has already been stated, The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge offers a wide selection of whiskies, rums, wines and cocktails. The prices are not exorbitant at all, so unless you choose a top-notch offer, you will not pay through the nose.

Despite the menu being really condensed, it consists of all-you-need wishlist starting from a plate of regional cheese and a burger (delicious one!) and finishing with a sirloin steak and chocolate flan.You can be sure of one thing – in The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge they know how to cook.

Now, let’s talk about cigars. You need to remember that the place belongs to Sheraton and after it was taken over by Marriott – the American hotel mogul, it became clear that Cuban cigars will not be accepted there. Instead, The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge offers a wide selection of New World cigars ranging from Dominican and Honduran sticks to the most representative Nicaraguan smokes. The selection is really good, so the guests will not have a single problem to choose something for themselves. Moreover, before the grand opening, there should be added another humidor (right now, there is one located in the smaller cigar room).

Apart from the great benefits, there are also some drawbacks. I’ve seen two: the inability to smoke your own cigar and a rather odd (for my personal taste) pricing policy. Let’s start  with the latter. As the place is meant to be both a shop and a lounge, cigar prices are divided accordingly – lower price for buying and smoking elsewhere, and higher price if you decide to smoke on the spot. As for the lower prices, they are encouraging – slightly higher than in online stores, yet still simply affordable. Right now, it is difficult to talk about the higher, on-the-spot prices, as the first pre-opening predictions turned out to be miscalculated (to put it mildly). I hope that the final “lounge prices” will be levelled reasonably. However, I can imagine that for many guests the policy itself could be a bit off-putting.

The second issue I mentioned is the “official ban” on taking and enjoying your own cigar. Firstly, having in mind the fact that the place cannot offer Cuban sticks, maybe it could be good to allow your guests to have them. Secondly, I guess that such bans should be an unwritten rule and not a rather official statement – I think that independence and trust are the key factors in building a community of reliable clients. Rarely is it that a guest comes in, smokes his own cigar and does not spend money on any drink, meal or side-cigar.

Hopes & the future

I’d like to finish with a few observations and things to improve:

  • What needs to be done before the grand opening in January is the new humidor in the main lounge and the possibility to smoke there thanks to newly-installed air exhaust system (right now it was impossible).
  • I hope that the pricing policy concerning cigars will not discourage many aficionados in the first place. I wish the place was thriving and full of people and cigar smoke. I believe that only a friendly and hospitable atmosphere and not a feeling of a money-oriented place can make it happen. Let it happen.
  • I am waiting for a place with well-trained waiters and sommeliers. A place where cigars and the philosophy behind them are the crucial part mirrored in a proper attitude and knowledge of the staff. I really hope that The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge will not only be a shop and a lounge, but also a place where inexperienced novices will learn something valuable about cigars, and devoted cigar aficionados will not be offended with the indifference of the staff members.

If you happen to be in Sopot, try out the new cigar place – The Cigar Shop Whisky Lounge. Although there is some room for improvement, the place has a number of benefits and a great potential to flourish. I truly hope that it will happen.

We are sorry for the quality of photos. After we receive better/official ones, we will exchange the content.

We will also add more details about the place, like the website address and social media accounts the moment they have appeared online.

Author: Cigar&Tie

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