Life's finer enjoyments found in Humidor
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Naomi Lai
83, XiangShang Rd, Sec 1
Hours: 1:30 pm-1 am
Credit cards accepted. No service charge. NT$200 minimum bill/person. NT$500/wine, NT$1,500/whiskey corkage fee for outside bottles.
There is a kind of establishment that has long been familiar to the world's great business capitals and centers of commerce. These are places that exude a subdued refinement and luxury, discreet gathering points where business owners and captains of industry huddle after yet another clash on the capitalistic battlegrounds to relax, enjoy the fruits of their labor and discuss strategy with their comrades in arms, or perhaps negotiate with their worthiest opponents.
Open now in Taichung for a year, Humidor is such an establishment. Walk through the unpretentious entrance and you're enveloped in a masculine-feeling world of dark leather arm chairs and sofas, a smoky muskiness, the rich smells of wood and the clink of ice in Scotch glasses. As Humidor's young, suave business partners Manager Eddy Yung and Store Supervisor Ken Wang note, even the business hours are meant to accomodate the schedules of the banking and stock trader set, who like to gather in such places when the markets close for the day.
Even more club-like are three second-floor private lounges, which were personally decorated by Eddy with a faded, classic Cuban ambiance that includes peeling blue walls, antique fans, lamps and other items, a record player, oil paintings of Cuban scenes, photos of Fidel Castro, and brown/black leather sofas and chairs. This is open anytime to Humidor members (minimum NT$500 charge), or can be booked for minimum charges, from NT$3,000 for the small (4-5 people) to NT$10,000 for the large (8-10 people). Membership comes when you buy over NT$10,000 of their products (at once).
Yung and Wang brought their business down from Taipei, where such places have proliferated. Like the northern capital, in Taichung they are drawing a client base of mostly 30 to 50-year-old men, although the ladies show up, too. Given the name of this place, it's not surprising that its biggest, most visually-impressive feature is the city's largest--arguably one of the island's largest--walk-in humidors. This glassed-off area is also used as a "cellar" for a selection of about 30 wines, which can be enjoyed by the bottle, from the NT$1,100 house red to a NT$30,000 Qu.D. Noval 1991 Nacional.
Even more impressive than the wines options, though, are the 40 varieties of Scotch, ranging from well-known favorites like Macallan, Balvenie and Glenmorangie to specialized Highland and Lowland malts and Skye and Speyside whiskies, all enjoyed by the glass or bottle. There are also fine ports, brandies, rum, Austrian and Belgian beers (from NT$250/bottle) and coffee, tea, juices and other soft drinks.
With its advocacy of decadent enjoyment of the finer things in life, Humidor truly fits in a city where quality of life is celebrated and promoted.