My history in Vegas dates back to the “Good Old Days.” If you know what I mean? And because of this, I’ve met a few Don’s in my time. But perhaps the most interesting of them all has recently come to power in Downtown Sin City, 624 S. Las Vegas Blvd—and that would be the extraordinary Don Vicente of Don Vicente Cigar Co. A robust man, born on the Pinar Del Rio tobacco plantation in Cuba his hands can roll a cigar with the magic possessed only by those born and raised breathing Cuban air, drinking Cuban water, and learning the craft from their fathers.
The story begins with a call from my life long friend Fat Andy. “You’re coming this weekend?”
“I don’t have reservations anywhere,” I replied, feeling a little sorry for myself.
“Stay at Dave The Jew’s,” suggested Andy.
“I don’t know…” Dave is a bad influence on me. And I thought I recalled him mentioning that five or ten attractive young ladies were going to be staying at the house for the weekend…Not easy to explain to my girlfriend.
“Okay…I’ll leave first thing in the morning.”
THE NEXT DAY
I pulled up to Dave The Jew’s sprawling single story—I’ve stayed there so many times, it actually feels like home. Fat Andy greeted me at the door and with the help of a couple of servants that Dave apparently traded an ipod for, I was settled in—in no time.
“My boy!” shouted Dave upon entering the living room. “Let’s go smoke some cigars.”
I nodded toward the sliding glass windows, thinking that we’d be smoking poolside.
“No…we’re going to Don Vicente’s,” insisted Dave before I could get a word out.
“Is he related to Gambino?” I asked.
“Not that kind of Don. He opened a cigar factory on Las Vegas Blvd.—Downtown.” You’re going to love this place. It’s the best cigar for the money I’ve ever had and I’ve smoked the best.”
Now Dave The Jew may not work much, but when it comes to the finer things in life, he knows what he’s talking about.
We hopped into the SL and headed for the Strip.
When you walk into Don Vicente’s Cigar Co., a quaint storefront on the Strip, the first thing you will notice is that there are several Cuban fellows off to the left rolling cigars. The Don sits at his own counter a few feet beyond. To the right is comfortable seating filled with some of the most interesting people you will ever meet—all there to smoke the Don’s handcrafted to perfection cigars.
Are you getting the sense that I like this place?
Dave The Jew made the appropriate introduction. And a minute later there was a Torpedo, cut, and in my hand.
“I don’t use a torch,” I said, rejecting the light Dave was offering. Call me old fashioned, but frankly I’m afraid that given my fondness for libations that I may burn my face off by accident.
Don Vicente smiled and reached into the case in front of him. He handed me a nice lighter. “My gift to you…You like old flame…”
“I do…” I think that he liked this about me.
Dave The Jew and I took our seats and joined the conversation. By the way, this is when and where I met Sir Heath Burkhalter, but that’s another story.
“I hope there’s no liberals here,” said Dave The Jew.
“Do I look like a liberal?” Sir Heath.
“I can’t wait to pay higher taxes.” Phil sarcastically.
“I’m thinking of leaving the country.” Steve. Everyone kind of agreed on this one.
And so on…Then the conversation drifted to nuclear power…One of the Cubans made the bunch of us Cuban espresso served in demi-tasse cups. This is what inspired my 45-degree, slow pull espresso, which I allude to in my blog Special Guest Barista…And I recommend trying when I’m appearing at Hygge (1106 Hope, Downtown LA).
Don Vicente handed Dave a Churchill to hand to me. I lighted it with my new lighter. Like the Torpedo it was rich and smooth AND PACKED A PUNCH. I had doubts about being able to get off of the couch. I should mention that the draw, meaning the ease with which the smoke is pulled through the leaves into the mouth, was the easiest I’ve ever experienced. This is what separates a great cigar from a good cigar—the draw.
Four hours of smoking later Dave The Jew and I reluctantly departed. But I promised everyone that I would be back on Monday. And I promised myself that I’d be back every day that I was in Vegas.
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” True. But I recommend stopping by the factory and picking up a few boxes to go—