Ceviche presents the grand opening of Ché in St. Petersburg

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The basement bar at Ceviche in downtown St. Petersburg has long been a Latin music hotspot. On any given Tuesday or Friday night, you could duck in for a drink and catch performers like Freddy Montes y su Son playing sultry Afro Cuban jazz to a throng of swaying and sashaying bodies.

Ceviche built upon this slinky underground lounge vibe and re-branded its lower level as a separate entity that has its Grand Opening party tonight: Ché, a late night Latin music bar featuring live bands five nights a week and a menu of craft cocktails conceived specially for Ché.

At last night’s VIP Preview Party, we found the intimate, dimly-lit atmosphere intact, but the low-ceiling space slightly re-vamped, now bathed in soft reds from hanging lamps and glowing accent lights, the brown tiled floor ripped up to reveal the original decorative paving beneath. Showgirls in feathered headdresses worked the crowd and posed for photos, and on the diminutive stage tucked at the far rear of the bar, Sombras Flamencos performed lively Latin-spiced sounds with a pounding percussive pulse as led by the classical Spanish guitar melodies of Javier Hinojosa, also Ché’s official music director. A break in their set was filled by the decidedly smoother sounds of Blue Havana before Sombras Flamencos returned to play another set.

The attentive service from both barkeeps and wait staff remains the same, and Ché will continue to serve Ceviche’s full menu until 9 p.m. (and a reduced late night spread thereafter), but a new cocktail menu showcases mixed drinks that have both history and tropical flair, like the Old Cuban, a re-imagined mojito made with five-year-old Brugal Anejo rum, and the Puka Puka Punch, a bonafide umbrella-garnished vacation drink comprised of three types of rum (light, dark and 151), orange juice, passion fruit, falernum, lime, pineapple and honey.

Tonight's Grand Opening party kicks off at 7 p.m., with music to commence at 8 p.m. For a full schedule of upcoming bands, click here. For more info on Ceviche, click here. Ché is located at 10 Beach Drive N.E. in downtown St. Petersburg.

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