8 Cocktail Masterpieces From L.A.’s Birds & Bees

By Editor-in-Chief, Natasha Swords

As a drinks editor I have the privilege of being among the first to discover new restaurants and bars. Birds & Bees is not a new location, but it is a hidden one, and here at Drink Me, we love that stuff. In Downtown LA, this speakeasy-stylized bar doesn’t have any signage, and the entrance is on the edge of a parking lot. Down the basement stairs you go, to find a positively charged group of people and a dark, somewhat steampunk, but friendly, spacious bar laid out in that deliberate “by-the-way” casual style, with board games distributed randomly on tables. It resonates the phrase “cheeky little thing” from the 1950s.

It’s comfortable. It’s welcoming and it’s hidden. We love it. But let’s get to the point: the cocktails. Ryan Koller is the General Manager at Birds & Bees and his mission there is to maintain a modern version of the old Trader Vic’s punch bowls and board games vibe, but personal, and with a lot more attention to detail. The cocktails here are masterpieces and even the punch bowl is a feat of balanced flavor and presentation. This place is “fun” in a completely understated way, and the cocktails are there to remind you how serious the mixology staff takes its trade.

We asked the Ryan, and mixologist Jake Larowe, to taste us on 8 Can’t Miss Cocktails for our readers to either try at Birds & Bees, or recreate at home.

Elvis Presley $16

This was Drink Me’s favorite cocktail of the night. It comes with Banana Bread folks. What’s not to love?

  • Peanut Infused Bourbon
  • Fresh Berry Gomme
  • Lemon
  • Licor 43
  • Elderflower
  • Allspice
  • Banana Bread on the Side

    Elvis Presley

John Wayne $16

It took 100 tries to get this one right, according to Ryan, but it was worth the effort. There are a lot of big contenders in this one cocktail, including añejo tequila, tawny port and cocchi barolo, but it works! This is how you get to Carnegie Hall.

  • Añejo Tequila
  • 10-Year Tawny Port
  • Cocchi Barolo
  • Capranao Antica
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Umoboshi Bitters

    Mixologist, Jake Larowe

Gregory Peck $15

Delicate, floral, sensibly sweet with a smoky mezcal aftertaste that stays balanced (i.e. it doesn’t build with each taste). For such a layered cocktail, this remains super clean to the end.

  • Barbados Rum
  • PineappleRum
  • Mezcal
  • Yellow Chartreuse
  • Citrus Oleo
  • White Peppercorn Tincture

    Gregory Peck

Tom Lehrer $14

The menu reads, “This Harvard calculus professor turned satirical songwriter always was a little tongue in cheek. We’re sure he would enjoy this island negroni twist with a wink and a grin.” We agree. If you enjoy twists on the negroni, you’ll love this one. Look out for the house-made Tiki bitters which say a gentle “Hello” at the end of each sip.

  • Blend of 3 Rums Infused with Fresh Banana
  • Carpano Antica
  • Vermouth
  • Peychaud’s Bitter Aperitivo
  • House-Made Tiki Bitters

    Tom Lehrer

Bunker Hill’s Kiss Me Deadly $15

Straight up clove on the nose, you’ll first note sweet apple on the palate followed by that wonderful booziness we crave in all cocktails. It says hello with a high-pitched, summery voice, but gets very “Hey, Bartender!” within a couple of seconds. This cocktail delivers in stages, and you’ll enjoy every one of them.

  • Bonded Apple Brandy
  • Rye WHiskey
  • Amarao Lucano
  • Orgeat
  • House Bitters

    Bunker Hill’s Kiss Me Deadly

Elysian’s Paradise $12

Far too easy to drink, this cocktail is dange-r-ous. The tamarind is a nice surprise that sort of stands up mid-palate, and just the right measure of spice gives a quick goodbye at the end. You could easily drink ten of these, but you shouldn’t —- they’re not as innocent as they let on to be.

  • Date-Infused Mezcal
  • Blistered Juajillo
  • Tamarind
  • Lime
  • Pineapple

    Elysian’s Paradise

Los Feliz’s Olho Do Tigre $15

Reading the ingredients below will illustrate to you how much effort has gone into balancing this cocktail. It’s multi-layered with flavors that make you salivate, and the result is a serious but welcoming recipe. We particularly love Los Feliz’s Olho Do Tigre this time of year —- the nutmeg is a really nice touch.

  • Avua Amburana Cachaca
  • Amaretto
  • Quince
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Ginger
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • House Tiki Bitters
  • Nutmeg

Jake Larowe is the Mixo-Genius at Birds & Bees.

Gidget Small Bowl $39 (2-4 people), Large Bowl $75 (6-8 people)

Ah, Gidget. You’re already smiling right? That’s how we felt when we spotted this cocktail, listed last, on the back of the menu. You gotta get a Gidget, especially in a hidden-away, cheeky speakeasy located in a basement. So we did. Guess what? Gidget is a punch bowl and much like its namesake, it’s a good girl at only 12 – 15 percent alcohol. It looks fantastic and tastes even better. A great way to start or end your night out. We really enjoyed the shareability of the classic punch bowl, particularly in a casual, comfortable setting like this one. It really lends well to the Birds & Bees’ vibe.

  • Tequila
  • Plum Brandy
  • Melon Juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Cilantro
  • House Chili Tincture
  • Agave
  • Tajin Chili Salt

    Gidget Small Bowl