Cigar Bar: Staggered Deals and Strutting Mambo Dancers
The hours: Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.
The deals: $3 off specialty cocktails and 30 percent off food items and bottled wine from 4-5 p.m., $2 and 20 percent off from 5-6 p.m., $1 and 10 percent off from 6-7 p.m.; $1 off draft beers from 4-7 p.m.
The digs: This sublevel Jackson Square hideaway is like a bit of old Havana in the middle of foggy S.F., with its fronded tropical courtyard, Spanish Colonial ambience, tall, cool, foliage-bedecked libations, and the random fragrance of a smoldering Romeo y Julieta fresh from the well-stocked humidor. The place becomes especially lively when los congueros> take over the bar area and everyone hits the dance floor for a little bit of mambo.
The verdict: Cigar Bar's unique time-staggered happy hour encourages one and all to skip out of work early and partake of the venue's tropical concoctions and West Indian charm, at a reasonable hour and stipend. Lavender gimlets, pear ginger coolers, and passion-fruit Caipirinhas are among the specialty cocktails that'll only run you five or six bucks if you order before 5; food options ($4-$12 before discount) include ceviche, fish tacos, chorizo bruschetta, Buffalo wings, baby back ribs, and Star Ranch sliders. The bottled wines come from the grill's extensive and wide-ranging cellar, so you're sure to find something to your liking, and pints of Sierra Nevada, Pyramid Hefeweizen, and Blue Paddle Pilsner are a buck off ($4) all happy hour long. The burbling outdoor fountain is a fine place to sip and savor.
Overall grade: B