OK, if you never saw Siegfried & Roy perform, you really won't miss them. Actually, it's likely that even if you did see them you're not suffering much. Now, the animal act's gift shop in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas has given way to the celebration of a partnership far more appealing: rum and cigars.
Rhumbar opened in early March with a decor that is as cool and refreshing as the drinks it serves. The place is intended to remind you of the Caribbean. White glass everywhere, including the bar top, and white "abstract mint leaves," aimed at paying homage to the Mojito, set the tone. The white is complemented by green in different places, but the real tribute to the Antilles is in the menu and in the "conversation pieces" that float above the bar.
"Next to baseball, cockfighting is the most popular sport in the islands," explained Michael Frey, the co-owner of Rhumbar and creator of Casa Fuente, the always-packed cigar lounge at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. So, Frey and his group commissioned Dominican artist Rafael Alvarez to come up with silver resin abstractions of fighting roosters in all kinds of combat positions. There are nine so-called "cock-boxes" and they certainly will attract the kind of jokes and comments that in this very sophisticated space will seem like a paradox, assuming that paradox even exists in Vegas.
"I call this the ultra-bar," Frey said. "Few bars in Vegas have the indoor-outdoor setup we've got."
And few, if any, bars in Vegas or anywhere else are likely to have the high level of cigars and rum that Rhumbar offers. Well represented are the most popular brands of smokes and several are priced at $8 and $9. The most expensive stick is a Padrón Serie 1926 80 Years at $68.
"We'll have 40 boxes from about 20 brands," Frey explained as he showed off the built-in humidor at the end of the bar. "We'll also have about 40 rums, everyone's highest end. We worked with every major rum company in the world to develop special cocktails."
Frey credits his partner in Montecristo Rums, Tim Haughenberry, for putting together the rum program. Honored are classics, Latin and Polynesian beverages, but "nothing's on fire," Frey said, answering a question about flaming drinks.
The regular menu has 15 specialty cocktails, 10 of which are rum-based. One is the "Latin Manhattan," something I might even drink, and I drink only dark rum on the rocks. It sells for $12 and is described on the menu as: "A sweet, spicy, sipping cocktail for those who appreciate great rum. Cruzan Single Barrel Rum stirred with Caribbean spices, lime, falernum liqueur, a dash of bitters, and a splash of Jamaican ginger beer."
"Every month one company will be featured," Frey said. "We'll design more cocktails using that company's featured rum. There's also a walk-up Daiquiri bar."
To be sure, you don't have to drink rum here.
Rhumbar has a full bar and full view of the Strip, something increasingly unusual in Las Vegas. The place is relatively intimate, spanning only 2,000 square feet. There are 18 stools at the bar and 30 seats outside.
Ultimately, what Casa Fuente is to the cigar, Rhumbar is to the idea that rum—pay attention here, single-maltistas—is the best way to make your cigar that much better.
3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Hours: Sun.—Thurs. 10 a.m. to midnight, Fri.—Sat. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Premium cigars: $8 to $68
Specialty cocktails: From $12