In the world of liquor, often the story behind a bar is often just as important as the modern-day reputation. The Petroleum Building in Downtown LA (built in 1925) is one such storied location, and it houses Caña Rum Bar.
Part of the same group that runs Seven Grand (which I posted about a few weeks ago), Caña is a tribute to rum and rum-producing countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Nestled into the back of the old Petroleum Building, you find the entrance to Caña at the back of the building’s parking garage.
Caña is a private club and a $20 annual membership is required for admission (though you may bring guests with you). The bar itself is designed as a throwback to Prohibition-era Cuba, and is dark and sparse in it’s decor. Inside, you’ll find a pool table, dance floor, and the bar itself.
Through the back of the building, though, is their cigar smoking area (pictured above), which is a big reason I wanted to go to Caña. The bar was originally built for Edward L. Doheny and functioned as his office, and in the back was his wife’s greenhouse, which has made the transition perfectly into the Caña Rum Bar cigar patio. Doheny, if you don’t know, was the oil magnate that There Will be Blood and Upton Sinclair’s Oil! were based on, and a great part of the bar’s history that Caña can brag about.
Caña offers 2 options for drinking: you can sip rare or quality rums neat or on the rocks, or you can select a traditional rum drink from their small cocktail menu. Caña has a library of over 250 rums, and out of goodwill, includes a few bottles of other liquors, but rum is the specialty. Here’s their cocktail menu in it’s entirety:
- Cuba Libre
- Pina Colada
- Mai Tai
- Brazilian Tecktie
- Rum and Coconut Water
- Rum Old Fashioned
- Dark and Stormy
- Tiki Roulette
This is one of the smallest drink menus I’ve seen at a craft cocktail bar, but as I sipped a Rum Old Fashioned (made with Pyrat XO rum), it was clear that they are very committed to making excellent cocktails. It was perfectly served on a crystal-clear ice cube with both lemon and orange peel garnishes and was well-built and well-balanced.
Most of my time at Caña was spend sipping rum neat while I enjoyed the cigar I was presented with for our night’s pairings: a Garo Adama a55. We sipped Rum Society #65 (pictured above), Angostura #1 and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva with the help of bar manager Erbin Garcia, whose knowledge of rums and rum production is impressively thorough.
Erbin has been at Caña for quite a while, and chronicled the journey from a $5,000-per-year “exclusive” club under the Doheny name to it’s present $20 annual membership. Membership, he said, is no longer tied to a perceived exclusivity, but the liquor license for the building requires it.
Caña is a specialty rum bar with a small menu of perfectly-executed cocktails and very knowledgeable staff. The ability to smoke cigars (especially for a cigar smoker like me) adds an even more unique characteristic to what is already a very fun bar experience.
Photo 1 & 3 courtesy of Caña Rum Bar.