Cienfuegos is a city on the southern coast of Cuba, sits on a bay and is dubbed the "Pearl of the South". Cienfuegos literally translates to One Hundred Fires.

Cienfuegos is also a lounge in New York's East Village, sits on top of Carteles sandwich shop and is dubbed "The Secret Rum Bar". Cienfuego literally should translate to Punch Bowl Time!

We walked into Carteles, the aroma of espresso filled the air of the small shop. Every stool at the counter was occupied by people seemingly chilling-out, having a small bite and some café. A gentleman approached us and asked in a not so cryptic yet still intriguing tone, if we were looking for Cienfuegos? We replied, yes! He then opened the back door where another man wearing a cabana hat escorted us up a narrow stairway, ducking the low ceiling to avoid hitting the a/c ducts. Once we reached the top it was like having entered the past. The scene, a Cuban 1950's style casa antigua room appointed with light airy pastel colors, timely decor and furnishings, weathered walls and dim lighting. The room is actually bigger and louder than I thought it would be. Not so much a speakeasy, but more like visiting Tia Juana and Tio Pepe on the holidays. Rhythmic Cuban music plays overhead and cocktails each have their own fun history facts.

Punch bowls are the main attraction. The traditional silver punch bowl and ladle comes in different sizes, the smallest able to serve up to six glasses. And for $30 it's not a bad deal. We enjoyed the Alabazam Punch (adapted from a lost & forgotten classic) "lost and forgotten cocktails make for wonderful evenings of nostalgia and remembering absent friends" 8 parts of appleton 12 year old maraschino, lillet rouge, fresh lemon juice, bitters, champagne, whole raspberries, lemon slices and large square ice cubes. It was tasty, but as was cleverly stated at our table, "Tastes like my Grandma's Christmas Punch!"

The food menu displays wonderful tweaked Cuban delicacies, like Crab Croquettas with guava, Albondigas (meatballs) con roasted tomato and habanero, Elena Ruiz sandwiches, and Cubabitos shown here pressed hot oozing with swiss cheese, pork, ham, and pickles served with salty plantain chips. Delicioso mi amigo!

95 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 614-6818

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