Rum With It

La Descarga has Havana on the mind

With its speakeasy vibe and extensive list of rums, the Havana-inspired La Descarga is more than just a single-spirit bar. It is total rum immersion.

Entering this hidden spot is half the fun. A hostess waits for you atop a flight of nondescript stairs. She opens the doors to a wardrobe in her office and pushes the hanging shirts aside, and suddenly you're standing on a catwalk overlooking a dimly lit bar pulsing with salsa beats. Reservations (encouraged, not required) only add to the exclusivity.

You'll find many rare bottlings on the 75-plus-rum list, like the rich and smoky El Dorado 25-year, a tawny rum that tastes more like a fine Cognac. There's also an impressive selection of rhum agricole, which is similar to cachaça. To sample rums side by side, flights are offered in the cigar lounge ($20 to $30 for three tastes).

For the cocktail set, try the Tapping the Admiral (pictured; $13), a Manhattan stand-in made with rum instead of bourbon. If you don't drink The Next Level ($22)–made with two kinds of rum and coconut water–fast enough, the hollow ice sphere that it's served in might melt or shatter.

How they make the orb is a closely guarded secret; how they make the cocktail is not (click here for the recipe).

La Descarga, 1159 Western Ave., Hollywood; ladescargala.com