Props to any bartender who actually offers to make me a mojito—because, let's be honest, muddling limes and mint in a pint glass is kind of a pain in the ass. And props to any bar owner who installs snow leopard as a design element (plush carpet), not an operating system, and sticks an upside-down cowboy hat full of condoms next to the bathroom. If you're primed to party, Rouge Cat wants you there.

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Rouge Cat descended upon Santa Fe's famously limited nightclub scene this May, and some, like the lovely and talented Alex De Vore, can already attest to its disco-chic nightlife. I, being prissy, went only for cocktails. But hell, it says "Cocktails" on the front door. I figured they'd be good.

Rouge Cat doesn't have a cocktails menu—"yet," the bartender noted mysteriously—so I asked if there were any secret specialties. There weren't, but the friendly, unassuming man behind the bar offered to make us the evening's special, a $9 mojito.

I'm not the type to turn down a mojito, that heavenly Cuban concoction that marries lime, sugar, rum and mint into a glass of ultimate refreshment, and though $9 isn't the price I'm accustomed to associating with drink specials listed on a dry-erase board, I agreed.

And special it was! Served in a giant, fancy glass (yes, fancy gets me every time), with generous servings of mint and limes, Rouge Cat's mojitos boasted the near-perfect combination of sugared rum and lime-spiked mint. We sat at the bar, where the service was attentive but far from overbearing—not the sort of bar where you order a PBR and a shot of Evan Williams and spill your troubles, in other words—and the music unobtrusive.

Rouge Cat's decor is plush and clubby, reminiscent of one of those basement New York City bars where one goes to escape the streetside bustle—but where the lights aren't so low you can't check out your fellow patrons. Ours, on a weekday evening, consisted of an increasingly raucous group of middle-aged lesbians. Someone turned up the volume and lowered the lights when Gloria Gaynor came on. We may well have been sucked into a disco whirlpool if it wasn't for other endeavors (eating dinner, doing some light research) that pulled us away.

In my experience, Rouge Cat was lovely—if somewhat confusing in its attempt to meld semi-swank decor with down-and-dirty party appeal. But it's always fun to get a few off-the-wall opinions, too, so let's see what the Yelp!ers have to say...

Christian R., June 5

"Don't go here. After visiting Rouge Cat on several occasions, I was violently prevented entrance on a Friday night because it was 'Ladies Night' and I was a gay MAN."

Eek! A man! This was not our experience, obviously. Nobody ever has Men's Night.

Jason W., Aug. 29

"Swanky pretentious little gay friendly bar.  They should rename it Pompous Cat -or- Overpriced Cat"

Yes! Pompous Cat would actually be kind of an awesome name. Nobody there was pretentious when we went, and let's just say neither my friend nor I was even wearing heels. Some of the other customers, in fact, had on exercise clothes.

Sam A., June 27

"$7.00 well drinks were poured OK, but even so, $7.00!!! This isn't New York City! Even in San Francisco, well drinks are $4.50!"

$2 more, and you get a huge mojito. Just sayin'.


Rouge Cat

101 West Marcy St.

983-6603

Wed.-Fri. (4pm-close; $5 cover after 9pm); Sat.-Sun. (1pm-close; $7 cover after 10pm); closed Mon.-Tues.

http://rougecat.com/