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Chefjw.com :: Critic's choice :: Cigar Aficionado, April 2006

Cigar Aficionado
Cigar Aficionado, April 2006
From "Vix, Miami"
Cigar Aficionado, April 2006
By David Savona

Vix, Miami

The Most Expensive Cigar List

Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

By David Savona 

South Beach is known for extravagance. Where else can a $25 valet charge, $300 bottle service or $500-a-night room rate seem typical, rather than exorbitant? So it's fitting that a hip, fun South Beach restaurant has what just might be America's most expensive cigar list.

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Vix, the exquisite eatery inside South Beach's Hotel Victor, sells cigars that can be consumed outside on its back patio. Among the latest offerings of Padrón Anniversary Series ($65 per cigar) and Graycliffs ($75 per cigar) are several pre-Castro and pre-embargo Cuban cigars selling for hundreds of dollars a stick. The Montecristo No. 2 from 1961, for instance, sells for $425 per cigar. Ramon Allones Tubos from 1959 are $500 a piece. Flor de Farach Coronas, the 1947 cellophane-wrapped smokes that made headlines when heaps of them were sold at a New York auction, can be had by the five-pack, at $2,200 ($440 per cigar).

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For the truly high spender, end your night with a 5 1/2 inch, 42 ring gauge La Corona made in 1937. Each cigar will set you back $1,000, but Vix throws in a bottle of Prohibition whiskey (labeled "For Medicinal Purposes Only.")

Even if Vix's cigar list is out of your price range, the food is worth a detour. Chef James Wierzelewski followed Marco Polo's spice route before settling down in south Florida, and the elaborate flavors of India, China, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Latin America make his dishes sing. Baked hot and sour rock shrimp is a must as a starter. First, purge your palate's memory of every forgettable bowl of hot and sour soup you've had in Chinese restaurants. This sampling of shrimp, presented in a bowl typically used for escargot, oozes with a spicy, aggressive and savory sauce, with a siracha crab stuffing. It's good enough to make you reach for a spoon once the crustaceans are gone so you don't miss a drop. The Osaka black cod ($34), prepared with soy and a sweet mirin glaze, convinced a very tough judge to phone a colleague and recommend the dish. For lamb lovers, there is a three-way lamb entrée ($41) with a lamb chop, piece of leg of lamb and "aromatic melting shoulder," a bit of lamb braised so long and so well that it's begun to dissolve in the small dish in which it's served. It's remarkably rich and decadent.

The midsized wine list offers a geographically broad range of selections, with many wines priced under $100. For those who show up with a crowd (or for the exceptionally thirsty), several large bottles of Champagne are available, such as a jeroboam of 1995 Dom Perignon ($2,900.)

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After drinking that much great Champagne, $425 for one cigar might not seem like much at all.

Hotel Victor

1144 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL
Phone: 305-428-1234

© James Wierzewlewski 2010