Chef Bryan Voltaggio thanks you for smoking — which you can do while you eat his food, once Civil Cigar Lounge opens on Monday, Jan. 14. The cigar bar and tobacco shop is adjacent to Range, and visitors can enjoy dishes from all nine of the restaurant’s kitchens while they puff away in ventilated comfort.
The 93-seat lounge was founded by the proprietors of W. Curtis Draper, the oldest tobacconist in the District. It’s a manly atmosphere, as you might expect of a cigar bar, but not excessively so. High-backed leather chairs and hints of burgundy exude “boys club,” but modern design elements like crimson upholstery and narrow stripes of shelves keep it young, and prevent it from crossing over into no-girls-allowed territory.
The menu offers some small plates you can’t find at Range, like a broccoli rabe pizza, and lamb tagliatelle. You can also order charcuterie from Range’s salumeria. The bar, managed by Dave Hammerly, is stocked with plenty of cognac, bourbon, scotch and armagnac.
But wait, isn’t there a smoking ban in D.C. bars? Yes, but there’s an exception under the law for tobacco bars, which must generate 10 percent of their annual revenue from on-site sales of tobacco products. As for those cigars: Connoisseurs will be able to purchase from a curated selection from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. And if they shell out for an annual lease, they can keep them in a humidified locker. Private rooms are also available for rental.
The lounge boasts a ventilation system that replaces 100 percent of the air every two minutes, keeping the smoke from lingering too long. However, if the bar gets crowded with smokers, non-smokers may still feel a little uncomfortable. But if that’s the case, they can always head to Range, next door.