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The Chamber FAQ

The Chamber is a unique lounge in that it is only one of a few locations in Multnomah and Washington county that is a public cigar lounge.

In 2009 the State of Oregon expanded its ban on indoor smoking to include bars and restaurants.  Due to the fact that The Shilo Inn had an existing cigar bar and never allowed the smoking of cigarettes, it received an exemption from this new state law.  There are only a few places in the entire state that were granted this exemption.  When The Opihi Group took over the cigar bar and renamed it The Chamber at 9900, this exemption was grandfathered to them and will remain for the foreseeable future.

To get around this new law, cigar stores and “private smoking clubs” (which require a membership fee) have surfaced and they have the ability to allow you to smoke cigars in those establishments.  What makes the Chamber at 9900 truly special is that we are open to the public as long as you are 21 years of age or older and you have the additional benefit of a full-service bar and restaurant that are not allowed in the cigar stores or private smoking clubs.  If you want to have a cocktail while you enjoy a cigar, your options are very limited and The Chamber at 9900 goes further than any other location in that we have 1200 sq. feet of space, 8 televisions, every MLB, NBA and NFL game along with a world class Whisk(e)y list and an impressively stocked humidor.

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State of The 9900 with Jason Chambers

We had a chance to sit down with partner Jason Chambers to discuss a range of topics.

Describe year 1 of The 9900.

The last year at the 9900 has been quite interesting on many levels.  As you all know, it was a year marked by delays in getting The Steakhouse open for business.  Between the county wanting us to dig up 80 years worth of concrete, dirt, various additions, etc so that we could put in a grease trap, a complete renovation of the kitchen; upstairs and down and complete remodel of the dining room itself it was quite a process.

The great news is that thanks to our loyal customers and word of mouth getting around that we have made a lot of positive changes around here, business in both of the bars is up over 60% compared to last year.  We have been very fortunate in that we have a staff that is attentive, loyal and committed to what we are trying to accomplish here at The 9900.

Where are we now?

With the opening of The Steakhouse at 9900 we finally have all three pieces that make up The 9900 and we could not be more excited about what the rest of this year and the future hold.  We hope to continue to build the daytime business in both bars and continue to have more of the private events that we have been received so well by all of you. Football season is approaching and we believe that we can make The 9900 a destination for watching college and professional football and showing the diversity of the experience you can have here.  From video lottery, to all the sports you can watch, to the ability to have a cigar inside while eating and drinking and most importantly having the ability to enjoy a world class meal all in the same building is something pretty special that we hope you will share with us and help us spread the word about.

Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, The Shilo.

The question that I and I’m sure my partners get asked the most is “Why did you decide to put a Steakhouse in the Shilo?”  While we admit that it seems unconventional considering the disrepair that this property had fallen into, what is important to remember is that we are not that far removed from a restaurant by the name of Nendel’s that occupied this building before the Shilo and was considered by all to be one of the best restaurants on the West Side.  We have heard from so many people that either worked at Nendel’s or religiously went there and want to see that kind of magic again. When we agreed to lease the bars and restaurant from The Shilo, we knew that the entire building was up for sale and thought that if we could take over the food and beverage and show an immediate change in the quality of the food and the service then we had a great chance of helping to attract someone that could see the vision of what we wanted to accomplish and hopefully bring the level of the hotel up to where we want to bring the food and experience.  Had the hotel not been up for sale we probably would have chosen a different location. Fortunately for us, the property did sell and we believe that we found that partner in the new owner. He has already made significant changes to the property and has promised many more that will only help to move us back to the days of when this was the best place to have a meal in West Side.

The Shilo attempted to do what we are doing when they opened “The Mark.”  The difference between what they did and what we are doing is drastic. First off, they don’t have Chef Christian Russell and they never had a commitment to the quality and the service side of things.  We believe that if you can provide incredible food and pair it with service that is attentive, and passionate without being pretentious then people will happily make the decision to not drive downtown to have a meal that we believe rivals if not surpasses any steakhouse downtown.

 

Chef Christian Wins Iron Chef Portland!

 

Congratulations to Executive Chef Christian Russell!

What an amazing evening at the Portland Art Museum for Portland’s Original Iron Chef Competition. The competition was being held as a tasting and fundraiser for LifeWorks NW’s Children’s Relief Nurseries. With nearly 400 attending this year’s event, it was a night to remember for The 9900 family. With a loaded field of chef competitors from top iconic restaurants in the area, our own Executive Chef Christian Russell came out on top after the popular votes were tallied up.

Iron Chef

Executive Chef Christian Russell will compete in Portland’s Original Iron Chef!

SAVE THE DATE
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 27, 2018, 6PM TO 9PM
Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave
KRIDEL GRAND BALLROOM

Tasting and Fundraiser for LifeWorks NW’s
Children’s Relief Nuseries

Guests will taste signature appetizers prepared by celebrated local chefs and vote for their favorite to be named the 2018 Portland’s Original Iron Chef. Plus, the evening features a silent auction, Winner’s Choice raffle, live auction and more!

Come support (and vote for!) The 9900’s own Executive Chef Christian Russell compete against local top chef’s. Tickets for the event are on sale here.

For full details click here.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD – BIG SMOKE 2017

On my recent trip to Vegas  (Nov. 18 2017) I was asked “Hey, so why do they call you Lefty?  Is it because you are never right?”…Somebody wake up the drummer, two shows nightly, and tip your servers.  I didn’t leave Vegas with a photo roll like on the camera in The Hangover, but I did have a great time there again.
So why was I in Vegas?  The Big Smoke 2017 at the Mirage, which is basically an excuse for a bunch of guys from all across the country to smoke a bunch of cigars in Vegas.  What a great combo!  I have been incredibly fortunate to be involved at this yearly event due to the graciousness of the Arturo Fuente family and team there to display our Fuente cigar artwork by Noah Fine Art.  The Fuente family truly personifies class, passion, and family, and to be a part of this family is a great honor helping raise awareness and support for The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.
So what is the Big Smoke?  This event is put on by Cigar Aficionado magazine and is far more than just an excuse to smoke the finest cigars.  It is a ticketed event open to the public which takes place in two sessions:  3 hours on a Friday night and then 3 hours again on Saturday.  A VIP ticket is also available for purchase to allow access one hour early for each session.  There are many other opportunities, such as seminars on various topics throughout the day and special events to hear from some of the leaders in the cigar industry.
To give a mental picture of what actually happens there, ticketed guests are provided a coupon book, and when the doors open enter the Mirage special events center like a herd of cattle in a stampede racing to their favorite cigar booth to get whatever product is being passed out.  Many of the large cigar manufacturers are present, including Fuente, JC Newman, Padron, and Oliva, as well as Tatuaje, Alec Bradley, LFD, and many others.  Cigar Rights of America also has booth there to discuss all the fine work they are doing. Its just a great time to not just enjoy premium cigars but also to meet prominent members of the cigar companies and discuss cigars with them.  Certainly special thanks to the Oban, Lagavoulin and Tin Cup, among others, for sharing their fantastic whiskies as well.
I also want to mention my great experiences at certain local cigar lounges.  On the previous Thursday evening Tatuaje put on a great event at En Fuego cigar lounge in Henderson, and offered some terrific cigars  including their Cojonu maduros.  The Cigar Box is also one of my favorite stops.  Its a great spot to enjoy a latte, beer or wine, and cruise their very comprehensive humidor.  The layout and brick industrial decor creates a great environment.  Another lounge I have been frequenting lately is the Havana cigar lounge on Flamingo, which features a darker intimate feel with a prominent TV screen great for games and movies, as well as classic cigar artwork such as Al Pacino from Scarface.  And of course, Casa Fuente is the main place to hang, smoke Fuentes, and drink the best mojitos in Vegas.
All in all I had a great trip, trying to learn as much as I can to help bring the best possible cigars to our Chamber.  I love using the reason of “research” to experience as many premium cigars as I can, so we can all continue to enjoy the great camaraderie together at our special Chamber at 9900.
Lefty

Pumpkin Ridge Part 2

Winner of the second golf outing auction item cashes in. John Hill and Dean Andrews teed it up on a beautiful day at Witch Hollow at Pumpkin Ridge with The 9900 founders Jason Chambers and Lou Perez. We would like to thank all that attended the Fuente at The Chamber event and to those that participated in the silent auction. Over $1000 was raised for the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PREMIUM CIGAR EXPERIENCE – ONE OF LIFE’S GREAT PLEASURES

The experience of smoking a premium cigar is one of life’s great pleasures.  Premium cigar makers take incredible pride in their craft, with even some manufactures being family owned and operated for over 100 years.  Premium cigars are primarily created from tobacco grown in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Africa, Indonesia and the United States in most notably Connecticut.  Many different types of tobacco seeds and techniques are used to grow cigars of varying flavor, strength, sizes, and color.  Like fine food, wine and spirits, cigars provide for unique taste experiences which can vary from salty, sweet, harsh, smooth, heavy, light, and spicy, just to name a few characteristics.  The experience can stimulate senses, allow for restoration and relaxation, and provide settings for bringing close friends together to share life’s reflections.

For beginning cigar fans, a few important questions can help at the outset:

  • How much time do you have to enjoy a cigar?
  • Do you prefer stronger or lighter tobacco strength (for most newcomers lighter is better)
  • Do you prefer the feel of a thicker or thinner cigar?
  • Do you prefer a straight cut or a V cut or a punch?
  • Are you going to be enjoying your favorite alcoholic drink with it?

The size of the cigar will determine how long it takes to smoke, along with your natural smoking technique.  Cigars are designed to burn slowly, thus keeping the temperature down and allowing the tobacco not to be charred or get too hot.  Drawing the cigar too frequently will cause the cigar tobacco to burn to hot, and most likely cause uneven burns.

Sizes of cigars are measured in RING GAUGE: a number typically between 40 and 64 which represents 64th of an inch.  For example, a cigar with a 52 ring gauge is 52/64th of an inch thick: (52 ring gauge being thicker than 42)  It’s length is measured in inches.  A 7 x 50 cigar is 7 inches long with a 50 ring gauge, and typically takes an hour to 1 hour 15 minutes to smoke.

If smoking a premium cigar alongside your favorite alcoholic beverage, i.e. single malt whisky, then a general rule of thumb is match a lighter flavor or bodied cigar with a lighter whisky, and a heavier denser cigar with a heavier stronger whisky.

There are three most common types of cuts (cutting the head of the cigar with a blade to allow air to flow)

    •       Straight Cut – which allows for the most air to flow through the cigar
    •       V Cut – A technique that uses a blade that puts a Cat’s Eye incision into the cigar, and allows the cigar to burn cooler while getting ample air
    •       Punch Cut – Which puts a small circular incision into the first centimeter of the cigar.

Try all 3 of them and determine which one works best for you.

There are many different sizes of cigars, but some basic options would include:

    • Churchill – approximately 7 x 50
    • Toro – approximately 6 x 50
    • Robusto – approximately 5 x 50
    • Petite Corona – approximately 5 x 42

After you choose your cigar, you can then keep track of your experience by giving it a rating.  Did the cigar burn well?  Did it go out?  Did it burn evenly?  Was it smooth or harsh?  Was it too spicy or too bland?  Was it too short or too long?  etc.

Rating Guide:  Rank from 1 – 20 on 5 categories:

    • Appearance – Feel
    • Burn Characteristic
    • Flavor
    • Strength
    • And most importantly: Did you enjoy it?

A cigar with your own personal rating of a total of 95 – 100 would be considered a Classic.  90 – 94 is Outstanding.  80 – 89 would be very good.  60 and lower would be:  Let’s try a different one next time.

Keep enjoying cigars: don’t let one bad experience deter you.  Try different brands.  Try different sizes and cuts.  Try different wrapper colors (darker to lighter).  Try cigars from different countries, etc.  Try them with different pairings of single malt and bourbon.  Have a great time!

Come on out to The Chamber at 9900 to experiment and learn along with us.  Join us on Instagram at thechamberat9900 and report which are your favorite cigars.  We great appreciate your partnership, as we are all lucky to enjoy premium cigars:  celebrating making new friendships and treasuring old ones.  See you at The Chamber!

-Lefty