Las Vegas is an interesting town, and probably more than any city in the United States, it is a destination city… far more people visit Las Vegas than live there. Be it for the casinos, the shows, the cuisine, or the conference centres, it is a town that grew out of the desert thanks to a bunch of gamblers whose entire plan was to create an oasis where all of the vices that one could want would be readily available.
Most people going to Las Vegas these days (Coronapocalypse and pandemic aside) head straight for the Las Vegas Strip. The palatial hotel complexes on the Strip are designed from the ground up to keep you there. It would be easy to enter one and not have to leave for any reason until it was time to go home… hotel, casino, restaurant, shopping, shows… they are a complete microcosm of what you might look for in a Vegas vacation.
If you are like me, you might be staying on (or near) the Strip, but you are going to make a point of heading over to Fremont Street. The heart of the original Las Vegas, it is (to me) a much more interesting experience. It is covered by a shelter that provides a constant light show, and it is a great place to watch people… and some of the people you will see might seem to be straight out of a strange movie, be it horror, sci-fi, action, or adult.
Fremont Street is home to some of the most iconic older hotels in Las Vegas – The Golden Nugget, The Four Queens, The D, The Golden Gate, and many more. One of my favourite spots on the street though, at the corner of Fremont Street and Casino Center Boulevard, is Binion’s. I have never stayed there, but I like to visit. Why? There is a concession in the hotel – actually in two locations of the hotel – that sells very nice cigars, called Vato Cigars. Owned by Paul Vato, they are located both inside the hotel, and in a window vendor booth on Fremont.
Vato sells several different products. First they have the stuff that non-cigar smokers want – bic lighters, e-cigs, and flavoured stuff that I never discuss on this blog. That is fine, there is a market for it; rather than sending people to a convenience store, he offers those conveniences right there. He then sells branded cigars that you would know – non-Cuban Cohibas and the like. All that is good, people want them, and they are good cigars. They are not, however, what I look for when I am selecting a cigar in his shop.
Vato Cigars has their own line… in fact, they have six different blends to chose from. During my recent trip to Las Vegas, I tried two of them.
The Cuban Blend is their attempt to emulate the creaminess of a Habanos cigar. In my experience, no non-Cuban cigar can do that… but the line is still an extremely nice taste that I enjoy tremendously. The taste is fabulous, and the consistency of the smoke is excellent. I have had several vitolas of this blend, and none of them had to be relit or touched up. It is a testament to the quality of the tobacco that I was able to follow up a Habanos cigar with one of these, and not be disappointed. The Ecuadoran Dark wrapper encompasses an Ecuadoran binder, and the fillers of Dominican and Nicaraguan ligero, and Honduran seco leaves. They are available in several vitolas, including the Prime Minister (Churchill), Hermano (Robusto), El Mysterio Luchador (6×60), Bad Hombre (Perfecto), Mr. Lucky (Lancero), Corona Taster (3”), and several others… including some novelty smokes like the Baseball Bat and the Cigar Pipe.
The Las Vegas Blend is not trying to emulate anyone. They are just trying to deliver the best flavours and cigar experience that they can, with a mix of the Connecticut Shade wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and three different Dominican tobaccos (Ligero, Viso, Seco) as fillers. Again, there are several vitolas to choose from, such as the JFK (Corona), Rob (Robusto), Cowboy (Torpedo) and several others. As I always advise, pick one based on how long you plan to smoke.
As I spent quite a bit of time walking up and down Fremont Street, I smoked both the Las Vegas (Luchador El Ultimo) and the Cuban Blend El Mysterio Luchador (both measuring 6” x 60) as I wandered up and down. It was somewhat reminiscent of walking up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, smoking New Orleans Cigars. I was truly impressed by the Vato cigar lines… and on my next trip I am going to have to try the four blends that I have not tried yet – two different Kansas Blend Twisters, the Aloha Blend, and the Black Diamond Blend.