Cigar Museum: For Smokers Only

Sag Harbor and other East End communities have been the inspiration for lines of chocolate, soap, scented candles, and even perfume. Now an entrepreneur wants to do the same thing with cigars.

Lak Singh, the publisher of the Party Digest online publication who splits his time between New York, Washington, and Dubai, has announced the formation of the Hamptons Cigar Manufactury & Museum, which, if all goes according to plan, will soon be making its own premium cigars in factories in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and — assuming the diplomatic thaw continues — eventually Cuba.

As the second part of the company’s name implies, Mr. Singh also hopes to open a museum — with a smoking lounge, of course, where patrons could sample the company’s wares — right here in Sag Harbor, although he has yet to find a suitable space, so visitors will have to make do with an online museum that he plans to open soon on the company’s website, .

Although other local museums with seemingly broader appeal find themselves begging for visitors for most of the year, Mr. Singh, who has collected some 500 artifacts, is convinced that a cigar museum, store and smoking lounge will be able to draw a large enough clientele to survive. In other words, he is hoping to attract the kind of patron who realizes a cigar is not just a cigar and will appreciate things like vintage wrappers and boxes, humidors and even cigar-making machines.

“We are not expecting an 18-year-old to walk in — in fact, we couldn’t let an 18-year-old walk in; it would be against the law — but it is going to be the cigar aficionado who will come, someone who truly appreciates the beauty of cigars,” said Mr. Singh.

But why Sag Harbor? Just about anyone who has ever passed through the village knows it was a center of the whaling industry. And Joseph Fahys made sure the village played a role in American watchmaking.

jit-cigar-sagharboronlineLak Singh hopes to bring a cigar museum to Sag Harbor.

But Mr. Singh says it also figured prominently in cigar manufacturing during the 19th century. He points to a passage in “Sag Harbor: The Story of an American Beauty,” Dorothy Zaykowski’s history of the village, that describes a cigar factory owned by Joseph Freudenthal across the street from the present day post office that employed about 75 people and churned out up to 70,000 cigars a week during the height of production in the 1870s. Over the past year, Mr. Singh has tracked down newspaper ads and clippings from various papers pertaining to the Sag Harbor’s history of stogie making.

“We have been researching this for over a year and we found that Sag Harbor was really the capital of cigars in the 1870s,” Mr. Singh said, “and it needs to be showcased.”

The new company will be taking a stake in a factory in the Dominican Republic this week, and begin production of its line, whose flagship will be the Sag Harbor Enigma Segar, a double robusto for those of you who smoke cigars. Other cigars, including the Southampton, a robusto; the Bridgehampton, a box-pressed; the East Hampton, a Churchill; and the Montauk, a torpedo, will be produced in Nicaragua.

Prices have not been set yet, according to Mr. Singh, but these will not be your father’s Dutch Masters, but a luxury boutique product. “The pricing will be very exclusive, and they will be sold only by the box; we are not looking to sell single cigars,” Mr. Singh said, who added he expected the company’s distinctive ocean blue boxes to be found in the finest shops in cities like Paris, London, or New York.

Mr. Singh, who says he smokes four or five cigars a day, is looking forward to the day when relations are normalized between the U.S. and Cuba. “We will be among the first American companies to produce a Cuban cigar,” he promised.

Although it is getting harder and harder to find a place to light up, Mr. Singh is undaunted. “We are scouting for a location in Sag Harbor right now,” he said, adding that he is aware of the thicket of regulations he’ll first have to navigate. “We are not trying to popularize cigars. They are already popular.”

By Stephen J. Kotz

This post was originally published at


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