DESTINATION: Lake Placid, NY
CLASS TIME: An evening
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy
I’d heard there were two keys to enjoying a good cigar: Give yourself enough time, and setting is everything. I clearly see the wisdom of both as I sit in front of a fire pit in the Adirondacks with Scott Waller, the sommelier at the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid. We’re tucked away in what the Lodge calls a private "lean-to" but is really more of an early-1900s hunting camp, with one side completely open to give window to a beautiful mountain view. I confidently order a nice, peaty glass of scotch to start, but for my next move, I must defer to the pro who’s there to show me the ropes of pairing a good cigar with a fine sip. Waller recommends a heavy, full-bodied cigar that takes over nicely where the scotch leaves off. I sip, puff and repeat, the burning end of my cigar twinkling along with the stars in a wide-open sky.
Allow at least an hour to enjoy a good cigar (think one puff per minute); with the right view, that hour can easily turn into three or four. At the Whiteface Lodge’s "lean-tos," cigars range from $8 to $45, and more than 25 single-malt scotches are available, in addition to a full bar. The Whiteface Lodge, 800-903-4045, thewhitefacelodge.com.
Inspired by the "Great Camps" of the surrounding Adirondacks, Whiteface Lodge mixes woodsy traditional with modern luxe. Suites (starting at about $400 a night) have an upscale-cabin aesthetic – timber A-frame ceilings, cast-iron – fireplaces-that gives you the feel of being one with nature without the hassle of tents or bugs. The whole resort has a small–village aura, with a spa, a year-round indoor–outdoor heated pool, a movie theater and a bowling alley right on the property. The Whiteface Lodge, 800-903-4045, thewhitefacelodge.com.
The Winter Olympics are still alive and well in Lake Placid. You can actually take a bobsled joyride (with a pro, of course) at the Olympic Sports Complex; tour the Olympic Center, the site of the "Miracle on Ice" in the 1980 games; and visit the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics Museum. Or just enjoy a stroll along Lake Placid’s quaint Main Street. Olympic Regional Development Authority, 518-523-4436, orda.org; Main Street, 800-447-5224, lakeplacid.com.
Join the locals at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, where the burger is a must and washing it down with one of the Pub’s own brews, like the signature Ubu Ale, is even more mandatory. At Whiteface Lodge, there’s fine dining at Kanu-try the Yukon Gold gnocchi, cowboy steak or barbecued salmon. Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, 518-523-3813, ubuale.com; Kanu, 518-523-0510, thewhitefacelodge.com.
Just over an hour by plane to Albany and 2.5 hours by car from Albany to Lake Placid; seven-hour drive; almost eight hours via Amtrak (under $200 round-trip; amtrak.com).
Dress is resort/casual at the Whiteface Lodge. Pack appropriately for cold weather, as plenty of outdoor activities are available.
Back in Philly: Head for the Mahogany on Walnut (1524 Walnut Street, second floor, 215-732-3982, phillycigarbar.com), a cigar bar that looks like an English library. Or check out the Philly Cigar Club (phillycigarclub.wordpress.com), which organizes "cigar nights" at area restaurants.