BIRDS & BEES
ABUZZ WITH SOPHOMORE MENU
Sometimes it’s easy to impress with a debut effort. You’re fresh and new or in the case with most artists, you’ve been working all your life for your big break. Often it’s the sophomore effort that will make or break a career. It’s the chance to prove you’re not a fluke or a one-hit wonder. In the case of Birds & Bees Bar Manager Bethany Ham, the bar’s second cocktail menu is her chance to separate herself from mentor Marcos Tello who crafted the impressive original menu and showoff what she’s capable of. Consider this new summer/fall combo menu a winner.
"Our new cocktails are summer in a glass, complex yet approachable," says Birds & Bees Bar Manager Bethany Ham.
A forward thinking ‘50s inspired bar, it’s no longer about finding the hidden DTLA bar anymore, now it’s about enjoying fine craft cocktails. Behind the yellow door still awaits a boozy good time. While the original menu featured The Desi Arnaz rum drink, this new collection includes the fiery Lucille Ball tequila cocktail. A cocktail as bright and beautiful as Lucy herself, this mix of strawberry and saffron reposado tequila, Amontillado Sherry, cinnamon cordial, white peppercorn tincture and lemon is fun, easy drinking.
I love that the menu is named after ‘50s icons, and newcomers this time around also include Patsy Cline, featuring gin, aperol, vanilla Orgeat, fresh lemon, bitters, and egg whites, as well as Danny Kaye—a stirred tropical Manhattan variation made with coconut infused bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Cynar, and bitters served with a house-made toasted coconut Rice Krispies treat. Props to Danny Kaye as he’s my standout star this new menu. It’s a fine drink and the coco treat only adds to the flavor profile. In Danny Kaye, a bar star is born.
And just FYI, if you like a stuff martini, well, the Ella Fitzgerald, an O.G. on the cocktail menu comprised of gin, dry vermouth, pickle juice, and Fino Sherry, is as good as it gets in downtown.
New House Cocktails this season include the Pelée Punch, which pays tribute to the Hawaiian tiki craze of the 1950s with Agricole Rhum, Overproof Rum, Blackstrap Rum, Falernum, Swedish Punsch, lime juice, and Demerara sugar. I absolute love the presentation and tiki goodness.
Another Bethany boom on the menu is her Oaxacan Gold Rush made with Espadin Mezcal, fresh lime juice, Hot Wing Honey, and homemade spicy salt.
“This drink allows the mezcal to shine, while still giving those spicy margarita notes that everyone loves,” says Ham.
The menu also features a potluck section that honors various pillars of the bartending community with modern classics.
“This concept is extending the idea that Birds & Bees is a cocktail party, not just a cocktail bar,” says Ham. “If our friends were coming over to drink, these are the cocktails they would bring to the party.”
New York City’s own Giuseppe Gonzalez is honored with the Infante, named after Mexico’s very own Frank Sinatra, Pedro Infante, and this nutty Margarita begs is comprised of Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, Orgeat, and grated nutmeg.
Paying homage to the late, great Sasha Petraske, the Gordon’s Cup is everything you love about a Caipirinha and an Eastside, blended together in the most splendid union, with gin, lime, cucumber, and sugar.
I really like the Rome with a View, a Campari and lime highball, made of Campari, dry vermouth, lime, simple syrup, and soda created by Michael McIlroy. The Penicillin created by Sam Ross of New York City’s Milk & Honey gets a nod as this mix of ginger, honey, lemon and of course scotch is always a favorite.
Happy hour at Birds & Bees is actually Violet Hour (the time when the sun is setting and the sky turns purple according to T.S. Eliot) and features eight cocktails available at a specially reduced price every Tuesday through Saturday evening from 5pm until 7pm and Sundays from 2pm to 10pm. Think classics like the Gin Martini, Old Fashioned, and Daiquiri. At Birds & Bees the era is bygone and the cocktails are daring and dynamic and time spent here are guaranteed happy days.
Birds & Bees is located at 207 South Broadway. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm to midnight; Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 2am; Sunday from 2pm to 10pm. Call 213-537-0510.
Story by Jose Martinez