Rich and I sampled some fine cigars this weekend, and I've been 'Net-searching tonight for recommended cigar-friendly hangouts. Let me just say, I am getting so tired of non-Alabamian reviewers being so friggin' surprised that anything quality exists in Birmingham, like this brilliant beginning of a review of the Blue Monkey Lounge from WineSpectator.com by one Jason Sheftell:
There's an old joke that goes something like, "What's the best thing coming out of Alabama?" The punchline, "Highway 20/59."
While Alabamians enjoy a good laugh, they know their state has heaps more to offer than rednecks and ugly documentary footage. The GulfCoast [sic], the Robert T. Jones Golf Trail, the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, barbecue and Southern hospitality are the least of it--especially for the hedonistic cigar aficionado.
Yeah ... we all think that joke is just HI-larious. By the way, nice of you to admit we aren't ALL mouth-breathers.
If remnants of segregation still linger in certain parts of the South, the Blue Monkey isn't one of them. A diverse crowd lounged around as if they had nowhere to go and nothing to do but sit and be lively, sip their drinks, relax, and revel in a nice smoke and cordial conversation with a passerby or an old friend.
I just love it. He might as well say: "Even though some Southerners still think George Wallace was just a super cool dude, the Blue Monkey is decidedly not one of those places where you'll accidentally walk in on a Klan meeting."
I am so relieved that Wine Spectator has declared one of the 'Ham's most popular bars a Bubba-free Zone (TM), aren't you?
Can't help wondering if this is by the same Jason Sheftell. If so, he seems to have a preoccupation with ethnic stereotypes:
Orthodox Jews race around in black hats carrying heavy books and bags of bialys. Chinese people worship in Buddhist temples next to electronics shops and restaurant supply stores.