I don’t usually get too excited about new restaurants and bars opening in Las Vegas (unless, of course, there’s a theme; I’m a sucker for themes). After all, there are already so many great restaurants I haven’t had a chance to try yet. But one opening in particular piqued my interest this past year: Rx Boiler Room, the new sister restaurant upstairs from Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. RM Seafood is one of my favorite Vegas restaurants, and I was intrigued by the description of Rx’s “steampunk” style. I had no idea what “steampunk” was, but it sounded just different enough from the restaurants already out there that I knew I had to check it out.
steam·punk (from Dictionary.com)
1. a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.
2. a subculture inspired by this literary and film subgenre: the fashions and gadgets of steampunk.
Eureka! Science fiction? My favorite thing!
Now that I’ve seen the space, it fits. Before you even enter Rx (pronounced “Rick’s”–get it?), you’re faced with the gears and machinery lining the entryway, which set the tone for the world you’re about to enter. Inside, there are decorative touches designed to evoke that Victorian era feeling—the chandeliers, the design of the furniture, the shelves of glass beakers. For some reason, it really made me think of the Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes films, though I’ve seen others describe it more as Jules Verne, and that fits, too.
And yes, in case you’ve heard, the waitresses do wear corsets. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as obnoxious as it sounds. (You know how I feel about these things.)
There are numerous seating arrangements inside, from comfy leather loveseats and lounge chairs to short tables, high tables, a dining room, and more. The bar seating is extensive, which is good news for solos–and anyone else visiting Rx. Why? Because the craftsmanship of making drinks at Rx is the real draw here. (In fact, I can’t tell you what the food is like, because my friend Joe and I just had a drink at Rx, and then went downstairs to RM Seafood for dinner.)
Once we decided we would just have drinks here, the decision was: Which drink would I try? Jack and Coke is generally my drink of choice, so the Smoked Whiskey & Cola intrigued me. Here’s the Rx description of this drink:
Smoked Whiskey & Cola (George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey, house made Cola syrup, Bittercube Cherrybark Vanilla Bitters, Fever Tree soda water, smoked cherrywood chips smoked in a crystal skull and poured over ice and served with a bottle of Fever Tree Soda water for the patron)
Seriously, how could I not order that?
Believe me, it was every bit as much fun as it sounds (and it was nothing like a Jack and Coke). The skull-shaped bottle the smoked whiskey comes in is a really fun touch.
Here’s a little video I shot of the drink pouring, with a question-and-answer session between me, the waitress and the manager. (My apologies for the poor quality, videography is not my strong suit.)
In summary, I asked what made the whiskey “smoke” and it was explained to me that they have a smoker behind the bar where they roast cherry wood bark (which has a sweetness to it) and pump the smoke into the whiskey. “It should smell like a good barbeque,” I was told. It did.
Despite the fact that it looked like there was barely a quarter of an inch of Cola syrup in the glass when she poured the smoked whiskey in, my fears about being overpowered by this drink were unfounded. It was a smooth, pleasant flavor, not too strong, and you could definitely smell and taste the smokiness of it. In short, it was delicious. I became an instant fan.
Are the drinks here expensive? Yes, but no more so than anywhere else on the Strip. And the drink experience at Rx Boiler Room is unlike any I’ve had in Vegas. (The lead barman here is Nathan Greene. Remember that name; he’s obviously very good at what he does.)
I’m fascinated by the creativity I see in the Vegas bar scene these days. It’s no longer about flair bartending. Today, the show is in seeing how unique ingredients can be combined to create new flavors and new beverage experiences. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.