Cocktails deserve their own spotlight. Aren’t they great? They’re like the jewels of the booze family. There’s one for every occasion, every mood, and they each have their own personality. Some dainty, some bold, some playful, some distinguished. But there’s one thing that all of Hummingbird’s cocktails have in common: they’re made with passion. That’s one of the reasons it is my favorite bar.
The first cocktail that I recall really grabbing my attention at Hummingbird was a Negroni. Like needle off the record, “who-the-hell-is-back-there-behind-that-bar, Jesus?” type of attention grabbing, and I can be a tough customer–so please, don’t excuse this as fluff. I have an extremely discerning palate, an intolerance for substandard, and I know what I like. So, I was enjoying dinner with a dear friend and fellow foodie, Bill. I ordered a Negroni after dinner– a Hendrick’s Negroni. and whoa… It was absolutely perfect. It doesn’t seem like a Negroni should be that hard to make. One part gin, one part Campari, one part sweet red vermouth. But, y’all, I have had some sub-par Negronis–even when ordered with Hendrick’s (which I always do because it’s my fav), and even when ordered at a five star hotel. This Negroni was so good that Bill also ordered one, and by that time Coleen had finished working for the evening and sat down with us and ordered one, too, after hearing all the fuss. Before leaving that night, I made sure to make my way to the bar and tell the bartender, Tal, how incredible and impressive his Negroni was. Well, it is no secret why it was so good. It’s passion.
Since I had that Negroni, I have started paying more attention to his craft during my visits if I decide to sit at the bar. I have observed a full restaurant and bar full of people all ordering specialty cocktails, phone ringing, GM asking questions, then you add me: a frequent chatty cathy to the mix–all these distractions and Tal (pictured below with a delicious Aperol Spritz) remains laser focused on the precision of each drink, unhurried, and seemingly very calm on the surface. Bartending is hectic. When there are ten other people waiting for you to make their drink, the urge to simply throw it together and call it a day is tempting for the sake of getting the drinks out. But to insist on stirring each one a certain number of times before combining the next ingredient, insisting that each one is held to an equally high standard is a craft and can only be done so consistently when fueled by passion, in my opinion. Last year, Nielsen CGA reported that nearly 1/4 of all Americans regularly enjoy cocktails outside of their homes. It isn’t just bland marriages that keep people coming back to the bar, it’s the experience. Just like the experience I had with that that Negroni. It really can’t be rushed either. That Negroni wouldn’t have tasted the same if it had been hastily thrown together. Just like you cannot bake a cake with fewer minutes and expect the same outcome. It’s science, and while I am generally an impatient person, perfection is worth the wait.
Lisa is another bartender to grace Hummingbird who I have observed possesses this same demand for excellence in every drink she makes. She is pictured below with a Jungle Bird, which she whipped up lovingly. 1 1/2 oz Goslings, 1 1/2 oz fresh pineapple juice, 1/2 oz simple, 1/2 oz lime, 1/2 Campari. I had to say a naughty word to get her to smile for that photo. haha. I’ll let you guess what it was. I don’t go there as much during the week, and so I don’t seem to see Lisa as often. But she is also amazing and incredibly passionate about her craft. You can tell by watching her make a drink. You would think she was conducting open heart surgery. So cautious and deliberate. That is how I want my drink made. With passion. And if you can’t make my drink with passion, then don’t bother. I’ll order wine instead. 😉 But for those of you who insist on perfection and carefully craft each drink like it’s your baby going to a beauty pageant, I want to thank you.
Well, I have been prattling on and have not even touched on the original cocktails at Hummingbird, which are sexy and loved themed. I think I have had all of them at this point, and the Petal Guru is my current favorite. It’s the gorgeous, clear, pale pink one pictured below. So feminine and elegant. It is simply Conniption gin, dry vermouth, and rose flower water. The fresh flower petal is a tiny touch that makes it even more lovely. You’ll have to come try them for yourself. You can’t go wrong with Lisa and Tal at the helm of the bar! I am going to bed to dream about perfect Negronis now. Cheers, friends.