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Churchill s

French writer George Sand once wrote: "The cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images." After a long day's work, pairing a fine cigar with a cocktail can do just that, swiftly smoothing the wrinkles of the day. Churchill's of Baton Rouge, with panache and pleasure not found in other local establishments, serves up cigar hedonism in luxurious proportions.

A short distance from the hustle and bustle of the state capital, and only an hour from New Orleans, Churchill's is a great place to exhale. Few lounges exude the opulence and warmth that Churchill's so readily imparts to its patrons. Do you wish to be whisked away for a time? With its beautiful decor, diversity of product and knowledgeable staff, Churchill's stands ready to accommodate your needs.

Upon entering, marble stretches out from your feet in the main lobby, embraced on its perimeters by plush hunter-green carpet. The columns, crown moldings and wood trim are oak. With its two clubrooms, Churchill's is an Epicurean's delight, offering the stateliness of a millionaire's private lounge. A small bar overlooks the front parlor, which is adorned with a mix of old-world charm and new-world gadgetry. A wood-burning fireplace stands near a salt-water aquarium and a large-screen television, and prints of old world Scottish castles adorn the walls near a pair of Internet terminals, which are free to patrons.

The aft lounge has a more eclectic look, boasting a large, round, leather-inset table orbited by several plush chairs. The large crystal chandelier, museum lighting, well-placed paintings, plants and sculptures create an environment that the great British prime minster the bar is named after would have been proud to enter.

Of course, Sir Winston would have gladly spent time in a room boasting this type of cigar and spirit selection, fine decor or no fine decor. Cigars on-hand include Macanudo, Avo, Arturo Fuente, Cohiba, Montecristo, and La Gloria Cubana, in addition to Baccarat, Bauz, Dunhill, and H. Upmann. The prices are fairly reasonable for a cigar bar: Partagas Limited Reserves retail for $13, Romeo Y Julieta Churchills are $7 and Arturo Fuente Hemingway Work of Arts are $16. You can store your favorites in one of 50 personal cigar lockers for $250 per year.

Churchill's stocks an impressive cache of Single Malt Scotches and Port, a generous assortment of domestic and imported beers and a solid wine list. Owner Mark Dennis serves wine in Riedel glasses, and decants older wines in Baccarat crystal. Churchill's conducts wine tastings every other Tuesday. Local wine specialists and distributors serve as the instructors du jour.

Churchill's has all the ingredients in place to "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler," or in the language of the native Louisiana Cajuns, "let the good times roll."

Tuesday, July 04, 2000

Churchill s