It’s counterintuitive, the idea of escaping Christmas in the middle of a shopping mall, let alone a shopping mall in the middle of the Strip. But that’s the genius: It’s the last place Christmas would ever think to come looking for me.
Deep in the Forum Shops at Caesars, past the Brietling boutique, The Palm restaurant, the Tiffany store and the Tumi luggage shop lies Casa Fuente, a cigar lounge nestled snugly against twin escalators. A small patio juts defiantly into the mall, a survivor of the late-2000s battles over indoor smoking. And, even at the height of the Christmas season, it’s the perfect place to get away from the holidays.
It’s not commodious: There are several chairs on the “outdoor” patio, underneath the static Caesars sky. Inside, several tables sit alongside a long, well-stocked bar, with an even more well-stocked walk-in humidor in the rear.
Entering is like leaving Las Vegas and traveling to an isolated nightspot in Havana. The tendrils of gray-blue smoke keep Christmas and its slavish legions at bay more effectively than a Trumpian border wall. The world slows down when you’re enjoying a fine cigar, and no more so than when you’re watching the rest of the world desperately rush to survive the Yuletide, laden with shopping bags and what passes for the joy of the season.
Although usually a Scotch drinker, I make an exception at Casa Fuente, indulging instead in its famous mojito, usually the tangerine variety, a rare exception to my usual rule that alcohol should only very rarely be sweet. A muddled glass full of mint, a Fuente cigar slowly smoldering in a custom ashtray, and Christmas can search the rest of the Strip in vain for me, at least for an hour or two.