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Vegas Trip: Celebrating 50 in Sin City, page two

Posted: October 26, 2009

THE START

I arrive a couple days early, check into a suite at the Wynn, which will serve as home base for the long weekend and get a good look at myself reflecting down from the mirrored ceiling. If this is going to work, a haircut and shave are priorities. A new spot in town for male primping is a sweet but masculine little barbershop that's been installed in a corner of Kim Vo Salon, the Mirage's enclave for coddled ladies.

I luck out and snag fedora-wearing Noe Hernandez as my barber. One look at his complicated goatee, which sports more angles than basketball-bettor par excellence Alan Boston, and I'm confident that he can make sense of my mop and overgrown facial hair. When he greets me by draping an ice-cold towel around my neck, I'm glad that I stopped by. An hour or so later, following a bit of cigar talk (he's a knowledgeable smoker) plus lots of snipping and shaving and a hot towel, I look better than merely human.

On Thursday afternoon Glen and Steve blow into town, and we don't waste much time messing around. We head over to the Mirage, and its daily pool party known as Bare. Located behind the casino, situated so that sides of the building pretty much cocoon the pool, it's a cozy spot with a faux-hawked DJ and multi-tiered daybeds that sport their own misters.

Bare is an apt name: Females here are encouraged to doff their tops, especially today. I've been told by a Mirage executive that Thursday at this pool is designated as "industry day," which, in Vegas speak, means strippers-get-in-gratis day. For three guys following look-but-don't-touch protocol, it's a perfect place in which to launch the weekend.

We sip Grey Goose and cranberry while hanging out in the chest-high wading pool. Before long, a surgically enhanced young lady mistakes Glen for Steven Speilberg. Yes, she's definitely had a few too many. Gent that he is, Glen gallantly disabuses her of her star struck notion. Inebriated topless girls or not, though, this clearly is miles better than the pool at the fleabag we stayed in 30 years ago. The only downside? As Steve puts it, "We're the oldest guys in the place."

"It could be worse," I tell him. I figure that oldest-guy-in-the-place is something I better get used to.

A few hours later, showered, shaved and dressed (following an overly analytical debate about what qualifies as cool jeans and not-so-cool jeans) we head to Mandalay Bay for our first proper meal in Vegas. Before sitting down, though, there is a detour for cocktails at Minus 5 Ice Lounge, a fairly kitschy, totally fun, only-in-Vegas spot where the temperature is kept at minus-5-degrees Celsius, everything in the joint is made of ice, and customers are provided with fake fur coats and mittens. The latter are necessary to accommodate the drinking glasses, which are actually crafted from ice (and disposed of after each serving).

Exterior of Strip Steak restaurant.

Fortified with top-shelf Russian vodka, we head down to Michael Mina's Strip Steak in Mandalay Bay. It's a big, airy place, with a Scotch selection 100-strong, an out of this world wine list, and glass windows through which you can watch well-marbled slabs of beef aging. We're greeted with an amuse-bouche of French fries cooked in duck fat. Things get less healthy from there, with foie gras sliders, bacon creamed spinach and Japanese A5 strip steak. It's a perfect set-up, aided by well-chosen wine pairings, for a couple hours of recounting the ups and downs of our last 45 or so years. Suffice it to say, we're laughing harder than anyone else in the restaurant.

After dinner and a quick swing through the Mandalay Bay casino (absolutely no good comes of that), we make our way to my new favorite drinking spot in Las Vegas: Rhumbar. Owned by Michael Frey, who's got longstanding bonafides via his Casa Fuente cigar bar in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Rhumbar is a sleek cocktail lounge, heavy on white leather, chrome, and a Cuban-inspired cockfighting motif. Steve and I sip Latin Manhattans, puff Padrón cigars, and get a little deep-and-meaningful as Glen makes tonight's last-stand at four-card poker.

DAY TWO

Sleeping in would have been a good move on Friday morning, but we have an 8:30 tee time at the Wynn Golf and Country Club. Slumber is not an option. Glen and Steve are avid golfers (their play is "better than average," I am frequently told). I, on the other hand, am rusty at best and pitiful at worse. I haven't played in more than a dozen years, and, even back then my swing was extremely inconsistent. At least the clubhouse's walk-in cigar humidor—stocked with offerings from Fuente, Ashton, and Dunhill—makes me feel right at home.

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