Tesa Cigar Co.
Fine cigars are a lot like, not to mention best enjoyed with, good scotches. Though many a cigar ‘layperson’ may only associate Cuba with quality cigar production, the reality is more and more artisanal, small-batch producers are emerging, and Chicago’s Tesa Cigar Company, with its extremely limited quantities and the owner Chris Kelly’s near fanatic attention to detail, is fast becoming known as the homegrown smokehouse du jour.
The son of a longtime cigar seller, Chicago-born Kelly originally launched Tesa in 2008, and following a hiatus reopened in his new Lake Street space just last year. Blended meticulously by Kelly himself, each of the 9 Tabacalera Tesa lines – ranging from the mild yet complex, Connecticut Shade-wrapped Series Finos, to the medium and well-aged Reserva Real (wrapped in Brazilian Aripiraca) and full-bodied, perfectly-balanced Series Grand Cru (Criollo 98’ Maduro) – are rolled in the company’s Nicaraguan factory, then transported back to line the shelves of the walk-in humidor-cum-shop-lounge. With cigars starting from just US$6, guests can take a box home or enjoy a smoke along with their BYO beverages in-house, resting assured that 10% of the revenue is donated to Nicaraguan charities. Give and toke!