With nary a cigar nor humidor on the premises, Cigar’s Bar, a classic corner joint in Buffalo’s Seneca Babcock neighborhood, is humble and smoke-free. Directly across Seneca Street from the City of Buffalo Engineering Garage, Cigar’s has been welcoming its neighbors and nearby workers since opening in 1999.
In lieu of a humidor, there is a very old wooden phone booth across from the bar, banged up and operational – customers report that it is still used on occasion, sometimes by a passer-by. The walls of the barroom, as well as the bar top, are all solid wood, making for a cabinlike ambience. Strung lights make for a festive vibe. At night, the lighting is flattering (read dim and warm-toned).
During a recent visit, there was a gleeful thump of a pop music soundtrack but not at a volume to thwart any socializing. The jukebox had a good mix of funk, rock classics and some standard compilations.
Cigar’s has four-hour happy hours (3 to 7 p.m.) during the workweek with discounts on all beverages – the prices here are already exceedingly reasonable. Beers are served in bottles or cans (the taps on site are not used except for private parties) and are $2.50 for domestics and $3 for craft beers and Guinness. Discount all of those prices by 50 cents for the happy hour markdowns.
Cocktails come in two sizes: small and large, with the latter roughly doubled in size. Well drinks are $3 for large, $2 for small. Top-shelf cocktails are $3.75 and $3 in large and small glasses. The only item priced at $5 is a shot of Patron tequila. The bartender on duty, Diana, said that all shots are $3.
When asked if wine was on the list, Diana did point out a nearby half-full bottle of Canei that appeared rather syrupy – make that a no. The bar does feature more than 20 types and flavors of vodkas and is proud that it can fashion any kind of flavor under the sun. Additionally, there is a big selection of whiskeys, rums and gins.
“Everybody knows everybody in this bar, everyone is very friendly,” Diana said, adding, “It’s a community bar.” Casual conversation was easily made with others sitting around the three-sided bar.
Playful banter between a regular and the bartender went something like this:
Bartender: “What do you guys want?”
Regular: “A million dollars, cash, small bills.”
Cigar’s is the site for a women’s neighborhood club that holds monthly meetings, a bar dart team and a league of shuffle bowlers. On occasion there is an evening of karaoke or a DJ that is advertised on the bar’s Facebook page or an in-bar message board.
There are a few televisions that show whatever the crowd wants to watch: news, sports or a movie. They do not dominate the bar décor as at other television-happy places. There is a hidden gigantic patio, grassy and perfect for assembling on a balmy summer evening. It has a bar, some seating and is the place where some go to escape for a smoke. But again, no cigars.
Where: 1115 Seneca St. (824-3880)
Scene: A friendly and casual, happy-hour haven.
Hours: Noon to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; opens at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday with variable closing hours.
Drinks: All bottled and canned beers, no taps. Everything is discounted during happy hour. No wine served.
Extras: Pool table, dart boards, shuffle bowling, huge patio.
Wheelchair access: No.