The Place: SAWA Restaurant and Lounge
360 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables
The hours: Monday and Friday 4 to 7 p.m. and late-night Sunday through Thursday 11 p.m. to close.
The deals: Van Gogh flavored-vodka drinks go for $5.50, with other cocktails, wine, and beer under $5.
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The scene: Everybody needs a break from sliders and the usual cocktails that dominate the typical happy hour. Luckily, there's SAWA Restaurant and Lounge, which offers an innovative take on every aspect of after-work lounging.
The Mediterranean Fusion menu features everything from sushi, kebabs, and tapas to à la carte offerings and a prix fixe special. As for the sipped-drink offerings, Van Gogh Vodka partnered with SAWA to create 22 distinct martinis (find varieties such as the Cuban colada, cherry on lychees, and Orangina). But the most unique aspect of an altogether different happy hour is the setting. The place is adorned with 3-D installations from the artist Chady (3-D glasses come as part of the menu), including a colored glass piece reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, which serves as the backdrop for the bar.
And then, of course, there is SAWA's hookah lounge. Sure, there are a bunch of great tobacco flavors, but ditch 'em all for the "hookah on steroids." That's where servers fill the hookah pipe with your favorite cocktail before puffing. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! We feel a buzz just writing about it.
Conclusion: Even happy hour can become mundane. That's why you need places like SAWA to spice things up. The lounge is much like its bar manager, Selem Kamareddine: an exotic mix of cultures and tastes that lures in the ladies.