Cocktails & Spirits

Booze Hound: Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and LatAm Grill

Typical Groveites (or Grovinians? Grovitines?) wears shorts and flip flops. They always seem to be walking a dog, clutching a plastic cup, and most likely drive a Mini Cooper. Their typical night's itinerary usually includes pigging out on fish tacos at Sandbar, purchasing JOB rolling papers at Yucky's, and eventually puking in the alleyway in front Barracuda's.

And although, there're lots of us poor, hard-working saps living west of the causeway who are glad that the Grove's White Trash Bash days are sorta behind us, there's no way we're succumbing to any kind of dress code (Cabana One, Crazy Pianos seriously, WTF?) when bar-hopping in this hippiecentric-frat-party neighborhood.

Which is why it's nice that a classy joint like Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and LatAm Grill (3067 Grand Ave., Miami) encourages patrons of all style-predilections to indulge in their Recession Decompression Happy Hour where you can pop in donning anything from a tutu to scuba flippers AND avoid witnessing endless rounds of beer pong.

Every Thursday from 6 - 9 p.m. you get three drinks and appetizers for only $20.

Sounds too good to be true? No need to be skeptical. But, the night does have it's perks and it's drawbacks. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good: You get exactly what the happy hour boasts - three Latin-inspired cocktails, three beers, or three glasses of wine for a single Andrew Jackson. The pisco sours, the official drink of Peru, taste very tequila-y (although I'm pretty sure there's no tequila traditionally in this drink), but if this is your thing, go for the one with a twist of passion fruit. They're tasty and dusted with cinnamon and, seriously, don't freak about the egg white, it's not even noticeable. The mojito is pretty standard as are the caprianas; good but nothing special. The mango martini is the standout here. They're well made with a thick texture that makes downing the booze (and it's a heavy pour) a whole lot smoother.

Plus, for all you winos out there, you can sample vino before settling on a full glass. Each week there's a different theme for the tasting, like Wines of South America (from vineyards like Brazil's Casa Valduga) and Wines of Miguel Torres in Chile.

The Bad: If you're planning on making a meal out of the complimentary appetizers, nix the idea. Although salsa and chips are at the table for all your munching-needs, insanely mouth-watering lobster skewers (that also come in chicken, fish, and steak verities) and taste bud-tingling ceviche spoons only come every half an hour. And sometimes by the time the tray of heaven gets to you, it's slim to no pickins'.

Also, the second time I hit up this happy hour, a friend of mine took advantage of the restaurant's regular ole daily happy hour, 4-7 p.m. with half priced cocktails, while waiting for me at the bar. She spent $17, drank four cocktails, and had many more ceviche spoons than I ever did both times I went to Recession Decompression.

The Ugly: Sometimes a magician comes around to do card ticks....and expects tips.

Last Call: Despite the criticism, it's a really great happy hour that produces high-quality goods. Plus, the staff seems to really care about their customers having a pleasant experience, which in Miami, is always appreciated. My only suggestions are offering more food and giving a little more umph to the mojitos. Everything thing else on this restaurant's menu stands out, so why not give one of Magic City's signature drinks the same respect?