"Little Bird has a classic French bistro theme with a Pacific Northwest flair, and I tend to approach cocktails that support that theme," says Tom Lindstedt, lead bartender at Little Bird Bistro on Portland's SW 6th Avenue. "I like to take something recognizable and give it a French twist, such as using Bordeaux or Benedictine in place of Italian vermouth or tart verjus in place of lemon juice." The French influence can be witnessed in their spirits selection including rhum from the French island, Martinique, and their choice of Scotch, Abelour, which Lindstedt says is the best-selling Scotch brand in France.
Lindstedt's cocktails are served in elegant Marie Antoinette coupe glasses and generally lean towards the boozy side. "Drinkers are becoming more adventurous and you need something assertive to stand up to the bold flavors of bone marrow and steak tartare," says Lindstedt. "We want to serve cocktails that are innovative yet comforting, so I often work from a classic cocktail recipe and add minor variations to fit our theme."
We asked Lindstedt how he comes up with the recipes for the rotating cocktail menu. "I read a lot," he answered. "I love working with new ingredients and new flavors, some of which we create ourselves, such as the house-made Picon, and others which are new to the market such as the high quality piscos now available in the US. I also do a lot of personal tasting at home," adds Lindstedt with a smile.
We asked Lindstedt which cocktails we should order the next time we stop by Little Bird. Check out his picks in the slideshow above.
Little Bird Bistro
219 SW 6th Avenue Portland, OR (map) 503-688-5952; littlebirdbistro.com
About the Author: Greg Harned lives in Portland, OR, where he enjoys cocktails, drinking and general mischief-making in candlelit speakeasies, swanky cocktail lounges and dingy dive bars. He manages Portland Craft Cocktails where he writes about his various exploits and also dabbles in the spirits trade. You can follow him on Twitter @craftcocktails.