BIRDS & BEES
DOWNTOWN’S FABULOUS 50’S INSPIRED BAR
Let me tell you about the Birds & Bees cocktail bar—a forward thinking throwback 1950’s inspired bar that lovingly looks back with nostalgia and runs full throttle straight ahead into a bold world of handcrafted cocktails.
The first thing you’ll have to do in order to enjoy classic and creative cocktails is find the place as Birds & Bees is a true hidden gem among Downtown L.A. bars. I wouldn’t call it a speakeasy but it is hard to find as it’s located in the basement of a Downtown high-rise office building on Broadway. From the parking lot at 215 South Broadway head to the northwest corner of the parking lot and follow the wooden fence alongside the red brick wall to the front entrance. Then open the yellow door and step into a living room where a skillfully created cocktail program celebrates all that was iconic during the “fabulous 50s.”
Fifties here is less “Happy Days” and more “Mad Men” meets “I Love Lucy” (although the music needs work…more jazz and less contemporary sounds). And you know the cocktails are legit as Birds & Bees called upon the one and only Marcos Tello of Template Consulting to set up the program. Known for his acclaimed cocktail programs at 1886 Bar at The Raymond, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, and The Edison among others, Marco’s brought on two of his finest talents to be at the forefront of Birds & Bees; General Manager Nikki Sunseri and Bar Manager Bethany Ham.
As “Queen Bee,” Bethany has embraced the bar’s theme and is bringing the 1950s-cocktail party to life. “Her knowledge and care is something we have not seen in many and she is destined to do really great things,” praises Sunseri. “The level of expertise to run this program is high and we knew she would be able to handle it with grace.”
The space, which includes a lounge, living room, and bar, is impressive, especially considering that it was a former LAPD gym. Now it’s chic and cool and a subterranean special place to enjoy quality libations.
The Seasonal Classic cocktails are named after some of the finest musical artists of the 1950s such as Doris Day, Desi Arnaz, Korla Pandit, Pat Boone, and Ella Fitzgerald. The Desi Arnaz is a fine rum daiquiri that’s smooth and goes down easy. Meanwhile, the Ella Fitzgerald is a damn good and potent dirty martini. And go figure, the Pat Boone is one stiff drink made with almond-infused rye whiskey, Pedro Ximenz Sherry and absinthe. Pat Boone himself was never this much of a badass.
The second half of the cocktail menu consists of Forgotten Classics and this is where the drinks really shine. My favorite may very well be the Chocolate Solider with cognac, dry vermouth, crème de cacao, Cynar and bitters. It’s boozy and so flavorful, as is the Cloak & Dagger with aged rum, Blackstrap Rum, overproof rum, Falernum (a fave of mine) and lime. It’s slightly sweet yet boozy and a winner. And Tiki reigns supreme with the Royal Hawaiian, and the Smuggler’s Eye Opener.
During my conversation with my server and queen bee herself Bethany Ham, the bartenders went off menu and made stellar drinks like the Fairbanks with rye, brandy and bitters, and an absolute gem where Bethany used favorite of mine such as Plantation Overproof rum, cognac (Clement VSOP), Campari, Punt e mes vermouth, and orange oil and crafted an absolutely terrific boozy boss drink.
At Birds & Bees the era is bygone and the cocktails are daring and dynamic and time spent there are happy days.
Birds & Bees is located at 207 S. Broadway. Open Monday through Wednesday 5pm to 12am; Thursday through Saturday 5pm to 2am. Call 213-537-0510.
Story by Jose Martinez
Most Photography by: Acuna-Hansen