The geographic reference in the name says it all: Havana. Making pure Cuban cigars available in Chiado was originally the idea of two Belgians, François Caen and Charles de Vendin. Exactly when they opened the shop is unclear. But the present management associates the shop’s foundation with the year of the arrival of Henry Burnay – the financier who founded the Banco Burnay. That was in 1864, the same year as the Lisbon to Porto railway was opened – just to give the reader an idea of what was going on in Portugal at the time. The A Brasileira would not open for another 40 years, right next door, by the way. The Chiado at the time was the Chiado of the elite, the fashionable Chiado, the Chiado of the intellectuals and artists. It was the Chiado of author Eça de Queirós and his book, The Maias:
“A lovely sun gilded the street; coachmen, hats pushed back on their heads, came riding by, whipping their scrawny horses; three fishwives, with baskets on their heads, walked past, swaying strong agile hips in the bright daylight. On one corner, some ragged idlers stood smoking; and on the opposite corner, in the Havanesa, more idlers, this time wearing frock-coats, were also smoking and talking politics.”
Talking politics at the Havaneza corner is no more, fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be. But it still attracts a certain public – cigar and tobacco aficionados, who come for the knowledgeable and informed service. Here they find premium Havana cigars, mini-Cubans, and emblematic brand names such as Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Mokambo and Villiger; also cigarillos, including Fleur de Savane. And, of course, all kinds of accessories used in the ritual that is smoking: cigarette papers, lighters, pipes, etc.
If your purchase is meant as a gift, make sure to have it wrapped in the shop. Making ribbon is taking very seriously in this shop; indeed it is a kind of rite of initiation for new employees. The assuredness and dexterity displayed reflects the mastery of many bows produced in the past. As he adds the final touches, the shop attendant confesses:
- “The foreigners are amazed at this…”
To which we would add:
- “Not just the foreigners...”
Cigars, smoker’s accessoires, gifts