The Upper East Side’s bar scene will never be the same, all thanks to the opening of Jbird Cocktails, a sleek enclave serving up artisanal cocktails and a menu of approachable fare to keep guests for dinner. Owners Jamie Hinojos and Joshua Kaiser opened the first outpost of Jbird in Midtown in August 2010 and decided that it was time to fill the void by bringing the cocktail scene to the Upper East Side.
The ambitious cocktail program is helmed by Jason Littrell and Marshall Altier, who have resurrected versions of centuries old recipes and offered up elegant interpretations based on their vast experience. A plain Old-Fashioned, for instance, is a spirit, a sweet and a dash of bitter, stirred and served over hand-cut ice. Jbird affords its guests opportunities like Brush of the Bush, which blends Anejo tequila with smoky Mezcal, introduces sage-infused agave nectar and completes the mix with cherry bark and vanilla bitters. Another old-fashioned variety is the Thornybush, prepared with London dry gin, elderflower liquor, Kaffir lime and celery bitters. Guests are encouraged to try new things and the bar will gladly trade-in until they meet your fancy. Although there is something for everyone: for more citrus-driven and tart flavors, opt for one of the Sours; or if sweet is your flavor, a Swizzle will be a proper fit. And you won’t find a typical Martini or Manhattan at Jbird Cocktails. Instead, try a rarer spirit-on-spirit cocktail, such as the Camomila with rye whiskey, chamomile grappa, bianca vermouth, elderflower and orange bitters.
The inventive beverage program is paired beautifully with the creative kitchen work of Chef Ricky Garayua. A microbrew on tap goes perfectly with bar bites like Roasted Bone Marrow that diners can slather on toast and top with caramelized cippolini onions and sautéed mushrooms. Another bar bite not to miss is the cider-braised pork shoulder sliders with slaw. With aspirations of being a true neighborhood haunt, Ricky has a Damn Good Burger on the menu, topped with thick cut bacon that is butchered, cured and cut in house. All meats are from small artisanal farms, mainly in upstate New York, and anything able to be made in the traditional method, including butter, is done on site.
The 100-seat cocktail lounge has a chic yet neighborhood feel with rich purple walls, plush leather banquets, exposed brick and dark wooden beam ceilings. The venue features a festive communal table at bar height fashioned out of Carrera marble and two circular Captain’s tables able to seat a dozen friends.
With the closest cocktails of this nature 50+ blocks away, Jbird is betting the UES is ready to save the $20 cab ride and belly up to the bar to discover the food and drink people are talking about.