Once again, the creative artist of many of the chic China Grilles, several other NYC trendy restaurants, major real estate projects—the list goes on and on—has done it again with the incredible sensory defying and hot Las Vegas nightclub RUM JUNGLE. Internationally acclaimed design artist Jeffrey Beer’s career and
achievements are constantly covered in the newspapers, as well as in design, fashion, culinary, and in-flight magazines. The New York Times, Interior Design, Food Arts, House & Garden, Hospitality Design, Departures, and Vogue have all paid homage to the graduate of the renowned Rhode Island School of Design. Earning a Fulbright Fellowship, this scholar apprenticed with none other than
Dale Chihuly , studying the art of blowing glass, where he also attained an incomparable ingeniousness utilizing glass as a light design element. Rum Jungle delivers a sensual depth of textures, light, and form reflecting one of this contemporary master's more seductive projects to date.
The senses are immediately overwhelmed as you enter the restaurant-by-day, club-by-night oasis of hedonism. Adjust your eyes to towers of shimmering lights, and what slowly comes into focus is a 30-foot-wide, 110-foot-long, 22-foot-high structure known as the Mountain of Rum. The iridescent glow of thousands of multicolored shimmering liquor bottles, climbing two stories into the air and enhanced by a fiber optic extravaganza, greets you as you step foot through the entrance’s velvet ropes.
Hypnotic rhythms of African conga drums—or are they bongos, or both?—beckon you in. All remaining inhibitions are ripped away when you notice the lithe and beautiful (even wives, dates, and significant others admit to being as entranced as any man) professional dancing women wearing an array of erotically minimal spandex. These dancers grind away, some suspended in birdlike cages and others along a catwalk above the bar. Cirque de Soleil influences are invoked by other exotic women on trapezes doing acrobatics and high-speed twirls suspended only by a ponytail of hair high above the drinking crowds, while another uses a 30-foot silken drape suspended from the ceiling, performing stunts that seem to defy gravity.
The clear water-toned acrylic bar—an Amazon River of libations—runs the length of the restaurant and is lined with over six dozen hand-carved stools from Bali. Flanked by waterfalls that seem to float suspended in the air and a wall of fire torches (which, by some mischance, I seemed to miss—watch out for the vanilla-infused rum!), the balance of water and fire create a sensational harmonic when combined with the earth element, a terrazzo and onyx floor. Its smooth surface is easy on Capezios when the restaurant morphs, at 10pm on weekend nights and 11pm during the week, into the hottest dance club in Sin City. An eclectic mix of reggae, hip-hop, ‘70s disco, Latin, and top pop music flows from the raised DJ booth towering below the ruby-red ceiling.
Good DJ’s may be hard to find, yet three of the top DJ’s on the circuit, DJ Toast, DJ Randy, and DJ Creativity, deliver music magic from above while the hot and hip spin, twist and bump most provocatively to it below.
Rum Jungle’s display of visually pleasing aesthetics doesn’t seem to stop. Flanking the bar and set above the main eating areas are four "rain chandeliers" composed of wire and hundreds of small tubes. They are bottom lit from a rim that is a about a ten-foot circle suspended from the ceiling. Huge dueling congas hydraulically lift up and down through out the night as heated testosterone-induced percussion battles spontaneously take place. They are set in front of and frame the Fire Pit, an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant/club. Flaming skewers are held in serving staff fists, broad-sword style, as they make their way to the many tables ordering from the Rodizio menu.
Elegant-casual is the dress code, and it assures more than just architecturally pleasing sights and sounds. Rum Jungle attracts a very good-looking and multi-dimensional crowd, providing a comfortable and safe feel to its environment. Collared shirts and/or blazers for men in jeans will cut it easily enough, but forget about T-shirts, shorts, sandals, and work boots, and there are absolutely no hats allowed.
There are controversial schools of thought on clubs offering a restaurant venue. There is the inverse question of whether or not a restaurant can deliver a great club experience. Such is the dilemma others may have, but Rum Jungle does not seem to be phased with such a challenge. The menu (posted in a picture below) is a culinary fusion of Caribbean, Latin, Cuban, Polynesian, and Asian fare. For the less exotically inclined, there is a great steak—albeit you may have to have them hold the sugarcane butter sauce and Habanero demi-glaze on the filet mignon!
There are several ways to attack the menu. Try any of the following depending on your appetite. There are two categories that will fit the lighter-fare demand. Small plates and appetizers are plentiful enough that an assortment of three orders plus a salad seems to satisfactorily sate for two. Recommendations include
Ahi Tuna Mango Poke Spring Rolls, which open your taste buds. It is a very fresh and very spicy sushi-style tuna tartar rolled in a soft wrap. Served with pineapple and avocado salsa and dressed with a wasabi Crème-Fraiche, it costs about $18.
Coconut Shrimp with a Coconut-Curry Dipping Sauce are crispy and sweet, with a tropical taste that lingers and lingers (perfectly complemented by the vanilla-infused rum on the rocks, about $20).
Jamaican Spiced Chicken Skewers complemented with chipotle-guava sauce and grilled pineapple completes your European-style meal. At $10, it comes in at the lower end of the menu’s price range.
Finish off, or start with, a Peruvian Chopped Salad, a toss of onions, corn, roasted peppers, feta cheese, and radishes in a mint vinaigrette at approximately $9. You won’t be hungry and won’t feel stuffed. Guilt over the coconut shrimp is at your own discretion.
The Rodizio Fire Pit is what this restaurant is famous for. Imagine skewer after flaming skewer being brought to your table, as the menu states, in "unlimited quantities" bearing:
Rosemary, Chili, and Garlic Marinated Angus Beef with caramelized onions
Mango-Rum Marinated Ahi Tuna with a Jalapeño-peach and Passionfruit Glaze
Roast Garlic and Sage Marinated Turkey Breast in a Mango-Habanero Glaze
Slow Roasted Pulled Pork
Jerk Spiced Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs
Huli-Huli Rotisserie Chicken in Pineapple Rum
Hot Smoked Salmon
And what would any fire-pit be without the Roasted Spanish Chorizo Sausage!
Accompaniments include a cinnamon "Dirty Rice," drunken pinto beans, Cuban black beans, caramelized fried ripe plantains, and pineapple-coconut Basmati rice. At $40 per person, this all-you-can-eat, delivered-to-your-table tropical buffet will test the mettle of any appetite.
Reservations are highly recommended, if not required, for Friday and Saturday. Make them as far in advance as possible online.
The price will run between $30 to $40 per person in most cases, while drinks and desserts may push it a bit higher. Drinks run between $5 and $12.
Night Club Entry: Dinner reservations assure you a re-entry stamp for the dance debauchery later on and saves $20 to $25 per person. The lines get long, and the wait to get in even longer. Guests at the hotel have a preferential line, and re-entry after dinner avoids it almost altogether.
Night Club Seating will run you the cost of a bottle of rum or other beverage, which are $250 and over $600 per table (four people). Considering the dancing you will do and the amount of space that becomes available at the bar during the ebb and flow of the evening, we did not find it necessary. It is available if you do not wish to give up your table post-dessert.
The last seating on Friday and Saturday is 8pm, but that is, depending on your host or VIP status and prior reservation, somewhat flexible.
Rum Jungle—Highly Recommended
3950 South Las Vegas Blvd.
Mandalay Bay Hotel