It began with a vacant building, a bike rally, and a pop-up. It germinated into a “what if” that has now blossomed into a reality. – just in time for the 5th annual Steel Horse Rally that will wake up the streets of downtown Fort Smith the weekend of May 3rd and 4th. The evolution of the 906 Garrison Cocktail and Cigar Lounge began as a brainchild of Sammy Fiori, one of the owners of Winston’s Cigar and Pipe Emporium.
Fiori recounts the story, “My dad had purchased the building at 906 Garrison and it was just sitting there vacant. I began kicking around the idea of a pop-up during the Steel Horse Rally. The idea was enthusiastically embraced, so we decided to give it a shot. The next year, guys started asking, ‘Hey, is 906 going to be open?’ We operated as a pop-up that grew in popularity for 3 years. Dad purchased the adjacent building and, finally, in a joint venture between Sam Trisler, David Bushkuhl, and myself, we drew up the plans for renovating 906 and 904 Garrison Avenue into what you see today.”
Walking into 906, you quickly realize that this club is designed for those who seek a break from the traditional ‘bar’ atmosphere. The high ceilings and opulent decor offer an upscale richness not found in other Fort Smith establishments. From the moment you sink into the rich leather seating to the tantalizing flavors that tease your palate, 906 feels welcoming. Soft lighting and sultry jazz beckon an evening of relaxation and easy conversation where your most difficult decision of the evening will be in choosing from the 150 facings of cigars lining the shelves of the walk-in humidor.
The transformation of 906 Garrison adds a luxurious touch of class to downtown Fort Smith. It is reminiscent of the bygone days of the Brittish ‘Gentleman’s Club’ – with a contemporary culture that welcomes the ladies. This is where you’ll want to meet up before attending the symphony or perhaps drop in for a nightcap after attending one of the city’s many upscale fundraising events. It’s also a relaxing setting for an afternoon business meeting – without the cloud of smoke and dark lights – with plush seating both inside and the heated patio area. And, if you’re so inclined, you can even enjoy a friendly game of shuffleboard!
906 has taken its ventilation cues from the casino industry. Through the vented floor and ceiling, the ventilation system circulates clean air into the facility fourteen times an hour. That is a greater frequency rate than most of us experience in our homes, cars, or places of business!
906 Cocktail and Cigar Lounge offers a unique sensual experience for each guest. Unwind with a glass of vintage wine. Sit back and enjoy a cold beer. Savor the warmth of your favorite bourbon. Luxuriate in the complexity in a sip of Louis XIII. Delight your palate with one of the small plates featured on the food menu. Bask in lively conversation with good friends. Explore the wrappers in the walk-in humidor stocked with Davidoff, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Rocky Patel, and the signature 906 La Flor Dominicana.
According to Fiori, choosing the right cigar is about understanding what flavors you like and how the layers of tobacco build that flavor,
“Most people are aware that cigars can be mild, medium or bold but the flavor profile of a particular cigar is really much more complex. For instance, I like a cigar that has a pepper or spice note and a pleasant, chocolatey aroma. Another aspect of the cigar important to the overall experience is mouthfeel which can be described as dry or creamy.
While the filler, the innermost layer of a cigar, and binder, the middle layer, impart a lot of a cigar’s individual characteristics, for me the wrapper, or outer layer, contributes most to the overall taste. In fact, I stick to medium to small ring gauges so that the proportion of wrapper to the other components is higher. Even though I don’t have a favorite, knowing the characteristics of different wrappers helps me to choose among the many options we have here.”
As he describes the flavors of various wrappers, one might realize that these descriptions sound much like those of a wine connoisseur. Sweet, bitter, sour, dry, buttery, fruity, chocolatey, peppery, spicy. How many times have you read similar descriptions as you choose the perfect dinner wine or aperitif?
With such a variety of flavors and nuances, how do you choose which cocktail to pair with the cigar you’re about to enjoy? “That’s easy for me,” smiles Fiori. “It depends on the time of day. I enjoy a mild morning cigar with a cup of black coffee. Later in the day, I’m more likely to pair it with a Coke Zero. You have to remember. A good cigar is about the experience. Choose the flavor combinations that enhance your smoking pleasure.”
Leaving the lounge is a lovely bookcase. About eye-level is the Coco Chanel quote, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” Classy and Fabulous – just like 906.