Cocktails at Little Bird Bistro in PDX

"Creme de Cassis doesn't make its way into a lot of cocktails, and I wanted to work it into a new drink," says Lindstedt. "Lustau Los Arcos Dry Amontillado sherry leaves a really great finish, and our housemade Picon works in harmony with the Barbancourt 8 year rum. We took a gamble with these flavors, but the risk was well worth it," says Lindstedt.

"Creme de Cassis doesn't make its way into a lot of cocktails, and I wanted to work it into a new drink," says Lindstedt. "Lustau Los Arcos Dry Amontillado sherry leaves a really great finish, and our housemade Picon works in harmony with the Barbancourt 8 year rum. We took a gamble with these flavors, but the risk was well worth it," says Lindstedt.

This article was first published on my column for Serious Eats: Drinks

“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.

 

The Cepage is Lindstedt's take on the equal-parts Sidecar cocktail, traditionally comprised of one part lemon juice, one part orange liqueur, and one part cognac. Lindstedt uses a Peychaud's cordial made from the bitters and simple syrup, plus Combier Orange liqueur, and verjus instead of lemon. "The lack of citrus means this cocktail doesn't require constant re-balancing for acidity like the traditional Sidecar, making the cocktail both consistent and time efficient", says Lindstedt.

The Cepage is Lindstedt's take on the equal-parts Sidecar cocktail, traditionally comprised of one part lemon juice, one part orange liqueur, and one part cognac. Lindstedt uses a Peychaud's cordial made from the bitters and simple syrup, plus Combier Orange liqueur, and verjus instead of lemon. "The lack of citrus means this cocktail doesn't require constant re-balancing for acidity like the traditional Sidecar, making the cocktail both consistent and time efficient", says Lindstedt.

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."

 

"The Havane is a house-favorite cocktail," says Lindstedt. "It's both bright and bitter and perfectly balanced." What's in it? Aveze (a bitter gentian liqueur), lemon juice, Gordon's gin, Bärenjäger honey liqueur, and Rothman & Winter apricot liqueur.

"The Havane is a house-favorite cocktail," says Lindstedt. "It's both bright and bitter and perfectly balanced." What's in it? Aveze (a bitter gentian liqueur), lemon juice, Gordon's gin, Bärenjäger honey liqueur, and Rothman & Winter apricot liqueur.

"La Vie En Rose is our 'vodka drink', without having any vodka," says Lindstedt. "It's an approachable cocktail that introduces many people to pisco, a spirit they may have never experienced." The cocktail is made with Cocchi Americano Rosa, Alto Del Carmen pisco, Combier pamplemousse liqueur, and lemon.

"La Vie En Rose is our 'vodka drink', without having any vodka," says Lindstedt. "It's an approachable cocktail that introduces many people to pisco, a spirit they may have never experienced." The cocktail is made with Cocchi Americano Rosa, Alto Del Carmen pisco, Combier pamplemousse liqueur, and lemon.

The Pégoud is Lindstedt's riff on the Aviation cocktail. For this drink, he mixes together Citadelle Gin, Crème Yvette, Peychaud's bitters, simple syrup, and lemon.

The Pégoud is Lindstedt's riff on the Aviation cocktail. For this drink, he mixes together Citadelle Gin, Crème Yvette, Peychaud's bitters, simple syrup, and lemon.

"I really like savory components in cocktails," says Lindstedt. "While mezcal isn't for everyone, the cocktail makes for a great introduction to the smoky spirit," he says. Fidencio mezcal lays the smoky foundation accompanied by the lighter, bittersweet aperitif Lillet and a tiny splash of chocolate Mud Puddle vodka.

"I really like savory components in cocktails," says Lindstedt. "While mezcal isn't for everyone, the cocktail makes for a great introduction to the smoky spirit," he says. Fidencio mezcal lays the smoky foundation accompanied by the lighter, bittersweet aperitif Lillet and a tiny splash of chocolate Mud Puddle vodka.

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.

Tom Lindstedt, lead bartender at Little Bird Bistro.

Tom Lindstedt, lead bartender at Little Bird Bistro.

Little Bird Bistro

219 SW 6th Avenue Portland, OR (map)

503-688-5952; littlebirdbistro.com