The first thing you notice when you leave the airport is that you're not in an antismoking police state anymore. Unlike in, say, Los Angeles, cigars can be bought and smoked almost anywhere in Las Vegas. The only question is deciding where your tastes lie.
An easy way for cigar lovers to divide and conquer the Las Vegas Strip is to think theme.
If your passion is boutique cigars, then your taste in hotels probably runs to the Four Seasons. It's a short elevator ride down to the Mandalay Bay Casino floor. There you'll find the Bombay Cigar Co., chockablock with the hottest brands, such as those made by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. (including Fuente Fuente OpusXs, Diamond Crowns, Hemingways, Ashton VSGs and Cabinets), as well as Padrón Anniversaries, Bahias, Avos and C.A.O.s. Mandalay Bay's tropical theme is carried through at Bombay by way of a British East Indian colonial décor. The store, run by Freyboy Tobacco, which also has shops at several other casinos, supplies the same mix of high-end cigars to the Charlie Palmer restaurants on the property.
If your image of Vegas is more Old School, you may want to go to Caesars Palace where you'll find Colosseum at the end of the Appian Way, near the statue of David, just off the gaming floor. Decked out with Corinthian columns, the 300-square-foot space sells such classic smokes as pre-embargo Cuban Partagas and La Corona, as well as Ashton, Avo, Bahia, H. Upmann, The Griffin's, Montecristo, La Gloria Cubana, Padrón, Fonseca, La Flor Dominicana and Cubita.
Also at Caesars is the Alfred Dunhill of London store in the Forum Shops near F.A.O. Schwartz and Chinois. Whisk past the fashion in the front of the shop to the walk-in humidor at the back. There you can relax in a club chair and smoke Dunhill Club selections such as Macanudo, Temple Hall and Ramon Allones, as well as Montecristo, H. Upmann Chairman's Reserve and Hoyo de Monterrey.
If you're in a Monte Carlo kind of mood, the Medici Cigar Club blends perfectly with the ambience of that venue. Striped awnings set the tone, and a wide range of brands such as Macanudos and Macanudo Vintages, Montecristos, Arturo Fuente Hemingways, Padróns (both Anniversaries and regular) and pre-Castro La Corona Coronas ($250 a stick) fill out the fare. The store fronts a brew pub with live bands that is the perfect place to watch a game. The location is also convenient to the monorail to Bellagio (which doesn't have a cigar store but does have a gift shop that sells 15 to 20 brands).
Those seeking the Rat Pack feel and smaller scale of the Old Las Vegas appeal will likely head to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where the Cuba Libre shop recalls the heady days just prior to the Cuban revolution when the Mob ruled Cuba. You can get a drink of rum as well as a pre-embargo Cuban cigar. You can drink your high-end libation of choice at Cuba Libre, as long as you want it neat or on the rocks. Cuba Libre offers the cream of the crop of boutique cigars, as well as pre-Castro La Corona Coronas ($250 each). The store also offers an impressive range of accoutrements. If the combination of lunch at Nobu, snacks at the Pink Taco and dinner at AJ's steak house keeps you coming back, get a locker.
While you're in the area (and still hungry), trek to the steak triangle at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise. Tucked among Ruth's Chris, Morton's and Del Frisco's (see "Raising the Steaks," page 171) you'll find one of the Havana Cigar Co. stores in a little strip mall. The walk-in humidor carries a broad range of the best-known cigars, such as Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, H. Upmann and Montecristo, as well as a few surprises. These solid cigars come at a better price than you'll get at the restaurants.
Davidoff of Geneva has two locations at The Venetian. One is a full-service store, offering a wide array of luxury goods and accessories from the famous Swiss tobacconist, set amid a pear-wood décor featuring a glass-enclosed walk-in humidor. The other is a convenient walk-up location near the restaurants. Both sell the company's signature brands--Davidoff, Avo, The Griffin's--along with non-Davidoff cigars, such as Partagas, Macanudo, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and Ashton.
Steps away from Napa in Masquerade at the Rio (a Brazilian-themed hotel and casino) lies Mardi Gras Cigars. A giant mask with a lit cigar greets smokers outside the store and is visible from the casino floor below. Inside, customers are welcomed by a selection of cigars such as Montecristo, Macanudo Vintage, Partagas Limited Reserve, Padrón and Bahia. Mardi Gras also carries accessories, including humidors by Elie Bleu.
In the lobby of Harrah's, Ragin' Cajun offers respite for those waiting in long lines and in need of a 'gar. The fare is mainstream cigars for mainstream America's mainstream casino. Walk your cigar over to the Range, a killer steak house where you can smoke at the table.
Francophiles will find Napoleon's Retreat waiting at Paris Las Vegas. A wall full of luxurious cigars includes well-known brands, such as Fuente, Montecristo, H. Upmann and Partagas, and some boutique cigars.
ALFRED DUNHILL, LTD. 702/650-2992
BOMBAY CIGAR COMPANY 702/632-6141
COLOSSEUM CIGARS 702/866-1234
CUBA LIBRE 702/693-5000
DAVIDOFF OF GENEVA 702/733-5999
HAVANA CIGAR CO. 702/892-9555
MEDICI CIGAR CLUB 702/736-9181
MARDI GRAS CIGARS 702/251-4920
NAPOLEON'S RETREAT 702/946-7000
RAGIN' CAJUN 702/862-4948