A cloud of cigarette smoke often hangs above the University of Dallas Mall, triggering quitters, enticing new addicts and irritating some nonsmokers. Inarguably, smoking is a part of the UD community, but a lesser-known subculture of campus is that of the cigar smokers. If you are one of them, head over to Cigar Art in Bishop Arts for handmade artisan cigars.
The owner, Marco Cavazos, has rebelled against the mass-production of cigars that cheapens the product for the sake of expediency.
“At the very beginning we said ‘we’re not going to carry the conglomerates,’ ” Cavazos said.
Using old-fashioned methods, carefully chosen materials and whole tobacco leaves, Cavazos is dedicated to a quality that renders the cigars into works of art.
“We prefer cigars that are made in studios not factories, and that’s what we wanted to capture with the name ‘Cigar Art,’ ” Cavazos said. “We kinda tried to dig that microbrew concept … everything we carry in our shop is handmade.”
The shop, which began as a booth in a Bishop Arts market, has a distinct late ‘30s to early ‘40s vibe, with brick walls and a vintage feel.
“We try to have an inviting, relaxed atmosphere,” Cavazos said.
“Old school music spinning on vinyl” and live jazz on Friday nights add to this laid back atmosphere, according to the website.
A BYOB Bar completes the cigar lounge experience, which, by fostering good company and conversation, embodies the quintessence of the cigar-smoking culture.
“Cigarettes are something that takes five minutes to smoke,” Cavazos said. “If you’re going to smoke a cigar, you need to take an hour plus.”
“When you sit down to smoke a cigar, it’s really not so much about the cigar itself, it’s about the experience, the conversations with your friends and the people you’re with,” cigar-loving junior Andrew Muñiz said.
He described the non-addictive nature of cigar smoking, which is not meant to give the quick fix that cigarettes provide.
“You want to sit down, you want to enjoy yourself, and make sure you’re around people who you can enjoy yourself with,” Muñiz said.
This is why there are no TVs in Cigar Art.
“Our philosophy is if you’re going to come into our shop and sit down, you’re going to make a friend whether you like it or not,” Cavazos said, laughing.
As a predominately male past time, cigar smoking can seem off-putting to women.
“I don’t know why that is,” Muñiz said. “I don’t think there should be any prejudice.”
Cigar Art seems to agree with Muñiz and has a Ladies Pipe & Cigar club that meets Thursdays at 7 p.m.
For beginners, Cavazos recommends chatting with the tobacconist in order to get the perfect smoke for the experience. Cigar taste is generally deduced from one’s taste in alcohol and coffee.
“If you like espresso and scotch on the rocks, you’re not going to like a mild cigar,” Cavazos said.