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Pipe Dreams at Bar & Books

Cigar smoking has plateaued, at least in terms of media obsession. Pipe smokers are appearing in small but growing numbers. Superpremium spirits are still going strong. That's the mini-trend report from Mark Grossich, co-owner and CEO of Bar and Books, the five-unit group of upscale cocktail lounges in New York City. The civilized meeting places feature collections of cigars, cognac, single-malt scotch, bourbon, and port. Their $30 average check is proof to Grossich that "drinking less but better" is more than a catch phrase.

"The fact that it's that high for a place that sells almost no food shows the strength of the trend," he says.

Bar and Books regulars still puff away as much as they did before it was fashionable, he says. Are pipes next? Perhaps, but due to higher cost of entry, Pipes won't be nearly as big as cigars. "You can get a really good cigar for $10, but a good pipe can run $100," Grossich explains.

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