The Cabinet 2.0: Cocktails, Cigars & Councilmen

Painting | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

For cigar aficionados in Kuala Lumpur, the newly refurbished cigar bar known as The Cabinet has recently opened its doors with an all new layout, with a wide selection of whiskeys and boutique cigars to match. We also speak to co-owner Jeremy Tay to learn a bit more about how to pick a cigar and what they have on offer.

Jeremy Tay | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

The Cabinet: Whiskey and Cigar Bar

The award-winning cigar bar comes a wider range of cigars, a curated cocktail menu, and a new private area called the Council Room, usually with a minimum spend. However, there are 2 Tiers you can choose from the Mayor Tier and Minister Tier, all with increasing level of perks. The bar’s new cocktail programme is also more refined but fun, with interesting snacks made using Malaysian artisanal single origin chocolates from Chocolate Concierge to match. They are not a members only bar which is open to everyone, but currently do not allow walk-ins, so reservation is advisable. We speak to Jeremy Tay, Co-Owner of The Cabinet to find out more.

What is the philosophy behind The Cabinet?

We opened in March 2018. We named it The Cabinet because we wanted to create a private enclave where you can hold your very own “Cabinet meetings”. Also, traditionally, the best Cuban cigars are specially selected and presented in a box called a cabinet. In September 2018, we were nominated as the finalist (Top 5) Cigar Lounge in the World in the annual Cigar Trophy Awards. We are the first-ever Asian destination to achieve this acclimation. In 2019, we were once again a finalist. We discussed the need for a refresh in late 2019, and we used the downtime caused by the pandemic for renovations. This also coincided with a change of several shareholders. Another reason is also, since our launch, several cigar lounges have popped up in the Klang Valley with the same look and feel. We wanted to revitalise the look and feel of a traditional cigar lounge.

Cigar Pairing | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

What advice do you have for people looking to begin cigar appreciation?

Most importantly, keep an open mind. An expensive cigar does not equate to a good cigar. Take it one step at a time. Prepare to spend leisurely two-three hours of cigar smoking. Look for a nice cigar lounge with knowledgeable/ friendly staff (such as The Cabinet…haha, shameless plug). Bring along a friend or two, or if you prefer solitude, bring along your favourite book, movie or music. Ask for a recommendation and enjoy it with a cup of coffee, whisky or specially curated cocktails to go with your cigar. Take your time with the cigar.  Learn to cut/ light your cigar correctly (this can affect your smoking experience!). Take a puff every 30 seconds or so. Don’t worry if your cigar goes out. Just relight it and continue. Never inhale and never consume cigars on an empty stomach.

In general, I would often recommend a “lighter” cigar to a beginner. A Nicaraguan cigar such as the Don Chicos by Barreda or the Toothpicks 2.0 by Jas Sum Kral is perfect for beginners. And the prices won’t burn a hole in your pocket. After trying several cigars, you might find a blend which suits your taste buds. You can then look for cigars with similar blends. Or remain adventurous and try everything!

Cigar Smoking | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

When it comes to Cuban versus New World Cigars, why are Cubans so much more expensive?

Several factors. Firstly, the reputation and prestige that comes with Cuban cigars. I always like to draw parallels with liquors. When you think of wine, the first ones that come to mind are the French wines. When you think cigars, you think of the Cohibas, Montecristos, etc from Cuba. Secondly, the distribution channels. A distributor from Malaysia will need to purchase Cubans from Pacific Cigars Company, the official distributor of Cuban cigars for the Asia Pacific. Whereas for New World cigars, the distributor will liaise directly with the brands (often direct from factories).

Alex Byrd | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

What cigars would you recommend for Beginners?

Antigua Esteli Segovias San Andres Maduro (Robusto)

This was one of the cigars that was introduced in the pairing session that was held. It is a fairly new brand out of Nicaragua (launched in 2019). It actually landed on #12 of Cigar Journal’s Top 25 Cigars of 2019.  

Jas Sum Kral Toothpick 2.0

Jas Sum Kral is another boutique brand that took the cigar world by storm since it was introduced in late 2015. It has had a cult following in the States but is fairly new in our shores. The Toothpicks 2.0 is an affordable short filler cigar that won’t break the bank. FYI, short filler cigars are still fully hand-made but consist of “scraps”/ leftover leaves as opposed to long-fillers (whole/ full leaves of a premium hand-made cigar). Because of this, it comes with a bit of a negative connotation that it is inferior to long-fillers. However, the Toothpicks is definitely one that will break this perception. Highly rated cigar and oftentimes lands itself on lists of top value for money cigars. Perfect after dinner cigar!

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones is one of the lesser known Cuban brands. It is one of the oldest cigar brands out of Cuba (established in 1845) and also one of the first brands to utilise colourful lithographs on their box, now a common practice for most Cuban cigar boxes.

Cigar Box | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

What cigars would you recommend for advanced connoisseurs?

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Sin Compromisos

Sin Compromiso translates to “No Compromise”. Master blended and owner of Dunbarton, Steve Saka (a great cigar personality, ex Drew Estate CEO), claims that this cigar is made with no compromise. (from selection of leaves all the way to the production). Highly acclaimed cigar when it was released back in 2018, 

Jas Sum Kral Kralot

Jas Sum Kral, a boutique brand created by another cigar icon, Riste Ristevski. Riste is an American of Macedonian descent and most of his cigars carry Macedonian names. Jas Sum Kral means “I am King” in Macedonian. Kralot translates to “The King”, a very apt name for this regal cigar with a beautiful gold band. 

Cohiba Siglo IV

If cigars are watches, then Cohiba would be a Rolex. And the Siglo IV would be a classic Submariner. This would be a cigar to light up if you want to impress your friends or to celebrate an occasion.

The Bar | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

What experience are you trying to deliver to your patrons?

We want The Cabinet to be your home away from home. For beginners, we want to demystify the idea that cigars are expensive and are a past-time only suited for older gentlemen. We take pride in our selection of cigars and spirits. Come in and speak to our friendly team for recommendations. For our more consummate patrons that know what they want, we offer a sanctuary from the madding crowd. Take advantage of our membership privileges which include the usage of the private Council Room and special events and deals.

Danny | The Cabinet | Food For Thought

The Cabinet Minister Tier

  • Exclusive member of The Cabinet for a twelve (12) month period
  • Entitled to 20% discount on products purchased at The Cabinet
  • Welcome (2 cigars, old-fashioned cocktail kit set, chocolates) and birthday gift voucher
  • Exclusive invitation and access to members only events
  • Priority invitation to The Cabinet promotional events
  • Gain access to The Cabinet’s Council Room with no minimum spend
  • Personal cabinet

The Cabinet Mayor Tier

  • Exclusive member of The Cabinet for a twelve (12) month period
  • Entitled to 10% discount on products purchased at The Cabinet
  • Welcome gift (2 cigars)
  • Exclusive invitation and access to members only events
  • Priority invitation to The Cabinet promotional events
  • Gain access to The Cabinet’s Council Room with one bottle of spirit purchase

The Cabinet
80A, Lorong Maarof,
Bangsar,
59000 Kuala Lumpur
+6011 3322 4053
Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 5.00 pm to 1. 00 am daily.
Closed on Sunday.

| PHOTOGRAPHY: NZ PHANG | WEBSITE: THE CABINET KL |

Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.

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