Freed from the strictures imposed by the U.S. embargo on Cuban cigars, American visitors to Cabo San Lucas will find the resort town awash in the Caribbean island's famed tobacco products, from roving vendors hawking small 5-pack boxes of Cohibas on the Malecon, to the hole-in-the-wall stogie stores that proliferate in tourist-friendly areas. Unfortunately, well over 90 percent of these cigars are counterfeit.
Partagas is one of more than 30 Cuban cigar brands available at J&J Habanos — Photo courtesy of J&J Habanos
It's a situation that does little to enhance the reputation of Cuba's most famous export, or to establish trust between tourists and local merchants. Luckily, there is at least one store in Cabo San Lucas that imports genuine Cuban cigars. J&J Habanos has been a fixture of the downtown shopping scene since 1996, and is the state's only certified dealer for leaf-wrapped Churchills and torpedoes made by famed Havana producers like Cohiba, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta.
J&J is the only certified dealer of Cuban cigars in Baja Sur — Photo courtesy of J&J Habanos
J&J ranks just above French bakery on the all-time scent scale, and their walk-in humidor is a cigar smoker's delight. It's kept at a constant temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with 70 percent relative humidity. The store carries a variety of cigar styles from over 30 of Cuba's top producers, and also stocks a terrific collection of 100 percent blue agave tequilas. Tequila tastings are a staple at J&J's bar, and the Big Papa mojitos have also become a popular pairing option for visiting aficionados.