THE SEPTIC ROOM
By: Lefty Karropoulos Orland park, IL
I have been a cigar smoker for about 20 years. I remember my first cigar; it was a Gurkha Bourbon Collection Churchill Maduro that was given to me by the CEO of the company I worked for. I smoked it on a beautiful day under the sunny sky, in Paradise Valley AZ. It was the beginning of an amazing journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Fast-forward to today, I am at a point in my life, that my innate ability to enjoy a delicious cigar while in a state of being free from any agitation, offers me the best possible “me” time.
It all started in May of 2018, right before my trip to India. My wife and I wanted to experience Indian culture, try Indian food and… I wanted to visit the Gurkha cigar lounge at the BKC Sofitel in Mumbai. At that time, we were also looking for a new house in a quieter neighborhood. My wife kept trying to convince me to go see a house she had found but I kept refusing because it would add to my daily commute to the office. She finally convinced me and the moment I walked in that basement… I fell in love. The house was completely updated, except the basement. When she proposed that we buy the house and I get to do whatever I want in the basement, the wheels started spinning. We put an offer on the house and after we got back from our trip, we had our closing.
After finally settled in the new house, I decided to start working on the basement. It was very outdated, so it was going to be a complete tear down, which made it much easier for me to design my lounge. I wanted to create a relaxing environment. I wanted something that was simple yet comfortable and elegant, something that would intrigue the senses of anyone that visits my “lounge”. And it was named “The Septic Room”, after my favorite band called Septicflesh. Yes, I am a metalhead.
By some crazy stroke of luck, my next-door neighbor is a carpenter so him and I did everything by ourselves on our free time which saved me tons of money, but also filled me with pride that I created something that defines me to the smallest detail.
Physical room Construction:
The previous owners had built a bar in a wall opening that measured 10’x5’x8’. I decided that this was the best spot for a walk-in humidor; I did not want something bulky closing the whole basement.
Dry-wall finishing work was done without outsourcing
New flooring was added without outsourcing.
New Hellenic style ceiling was installed to cover the air vents.
Electrical was done by a friend who is a retired electrician
An electric heat fireplace was added for heat in the winter.
Special smooth lighting was added for ambiance.
An audio system was installed for music.
A special cable- box was purchased from Europe for all movies, special events, sports etc.
An AC Infinity Cloudline S8 fan was installed for ventilation.
An Ivation Ozonator is used weekly.
Painting was completed without outsourcing.
WALK IN HUMIDOR
Moisture barrier was installed without outsourcing.
Porcelain tile floor was installed without outsourcing.
The key material for a walk-in humidor is Spanish cedar. I was lucky enough to find the most amazing deal from a friend of a friend. A brand-new neighborhood liquor store and cigar lounge purchased a Spanish Cedar humidor kit and then because of permit issues (thank you town of Oak Lawn, IL) decided to get away from the lounge idea. Liquor store is now open, but the Spanish cedar was used for my “Septic Lounge” instead.
All Spanish Cedar shelving was included with the kit.
A 5 Gallon Aircare HD1409 humidifier is being used in the humidor. Unfortunately, all standard market humidifiers only go up to 65% humidity. If one chooses the 65% setting, then the humidifier runs until it runs out of water. That would bring the humidity to dangerous levels for my cigars. The solution was very simple.
Disconnected the digital control and display on the humidifier.
Bypassed the attached adjustable humidistat and auto shut off.
Rewired the humidifier and connected it to a Wi-Fi enabled Inkbird Pre-wired Digital Humidity Controller IHC-200 Humidistat Hygrometer which controls humidity to any desired level up to 99%.
For an extra safety net, I installed a Bluetooth enabled SensorPush G1 Wi-Fi Gateway and sensors that also feed data directly to my iPhone no matter where I am.
My humidor is a little over 400cuft. That set up costed me just a little short of $350 vs the $1025 that online marketplaces wanted for a XXXL Evaporative Cigar humidifier.
After months of paying close attention, I know now that my humidifier needs to be refilled once every, approximately, 4 months. Of course, it is being checked monthly and filters are changed as needed.
Imported rustic hacienda style set from Mexico includes a TV stand, back bar and hutch, 2 cabinets and 2 coffee tables
Two reclining sofas and a loveseat with ottoman
Large porcelain cigar ashtrays
Complete gym with weight bench, treadmill, free weights, Rhino Promax Slam balls, Assistance and resistance bands, LAT and lift pulley gym system etc.
Most of my friends are New World wine lovers so the lounge houses a pretty large selection of New world wine bottles… from Petite Petit (Michael David Winery), to Aquinas Philosopher’s Red Blend 2009 (Don Sebastiani & Sons Winery), ZD Winery wines to Orin Swift Cellars. Whiskeys like Crown Royal Regal Apple, Skrewball and Tamdhu 15 Year Old complete the alcohol “menu”.
The “Septic Room” is home to the #7 out of 50 Yellow Gurkha Limited Edition Royal Humidor; it also houses a collection of over 1000 cigars, for now. Gurkha, Ashton, Tatuaje, 601, Sindicato, My Father, Montecristo, Davidoff and others, along with the Spanish cedar, make the room smell like heaven on earth.
NEXT STEPS FOR THE SEPTIC ROOM CIGAR COLLECTION
“The Septic Room” was a lifelong dream and I am blessed to have had my dream become a reality. It is my sanctuary, the place that friends, and I, love to hang out when they visit me and want to enjoy a “stick”. We all know that cigars are meant to be enjoyed during moments of rest because the simplest pleasures provide the greatest comforts. No matter what one’s taste is in cigars, one should enjoy each cigar like it is their last one. We also know that every single cigar manufacturer has its gems (core brands) and has its bargains (online retailer versions). My goal is to keep growing my cigar selection. As a Certified Cigar Sommelier, I want to have cigars from every single manufacturer if possible. As a Gurkha cigars fan, I want to have the largest Gurkha cigars collection in a single humidor in the world (not including the Gurkha facility in Tamarac FL). Whether my taste is popular or not, it is what I enjoy the most and I am set in achieving both these goals. On Aug. 2021, I am planning to bring part of my expanding “Septic” cigar collection in Greece and continue introducing people to the gems that Gurkha manufactures. We are planning a big cigar get-together in Athens Greece, hopefully COVID-19 allows us to do so.
For now, I just want to wish everyone a healthy, rockin’ and smokey 2021!