Best Tobacconist

JR Cigars

Let's say you've just engineered a massive corporate coup, a brilliant secret merger that started a trickle of sweat into white collars across the globe. Let's say it's the last game of the season and you're listening to it on a float trip down the Meramec River. It's poker night. Congratulations, it's a boy! What do you do to celebrate? You smoke a cigar. Problem is, the last time you smoked a cigar you were sixteen and bought some at the Walgreens where your brother's friend worked, and after you peeled off the plastic wrap and figured out how to light the thing up you got sick and thought, "Really? This is good?" You know it wasn't, but now you're older and you think you're supposed to know something about what you're sticking in your mouth — you're never embarrassing yourself with Swisher Sweets again — but you don't know where to go. You Google "tobacconist" and get a million discount cigarette stores, but you know going there is like asking for the wine list at QuikTrip. That's when you remember a tobacconist is like a sommelier — he's not there to judge your taste, he's there to use his reserve bank of knowledge to find a cigar you'll like. The tobacconists at JR Cigars in Clayton are equally at ease guiding a novice or a reincarnated George Burns. Proprietor Wally Pankowski cuts straight to it with a butcher's efficiency: Dark or light? Rich, spicy, mild? American or parts beyond? Just like that he's showing you three or four cigars out of the hundreds he stocks, and you're off to the races. Being a full-service smoke shop, JR doesn't stop at cigars. At the counter are some select luxury cigarettes, or if you're just hanging out, you can go ahead and buy yourself a pack of Kools.

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