Three of us walked up from Le Diplomate to 2 Birds, 1 Stone last week for a nightcap. Having never seen Doi Moi, and approaching it on foot from the south, my first impression while still a half-block away was: this is way too bright inside (I never did walk in; so this was literally just a passing thought).
One friend, who had been to 2 Birds, 1 Stone previously, replied, as we were about to walk down the stairs to it, “I have a feeling you’re going to think this is too bright also.”
Yes. It’s clear that this space represents what could have been the world’s biggest storage closet; instead, they painted the concrete, put a couple clever frescos (well, “fresco” might be a stretch) on the wall, and spent quite a bit of money on lighting – the lighting system in here is fairly complex for such a place, but I do hope it comes with a dimmer switch and that they consider using it. I suspect they’re trying to make what could have been a gloomy space into a little beacon of happiness, but I think people will be more comfortable in a slightly dimmer atmosphere (and this is coming from someone who has criticized places like Pazo in the past for being so dark that I couldn’t even read the menu). There’s a happy medium somewhere.
But this is all periphery. The one fixture in 2 Birds, 1 Stone that really matters is Adam Bernbach, and he was there on this evening.
My go-to cocktail, as long as a bar doesn’t use Rose’s lime juice (which is gross), is straight out of a post-depression gin joint: the Gimlet. When I order a Gimlet, and the bartender says, “gin or vodka,” that sends warning bells clanging (mostly about the clientele). I want gin, and I want fresh lime juice.
The Gimlet ($10) wasn’t on the menu at 2 Birds, 1 Stone, and I didn’t ask Adam, “*Can* you make me a Gimlet?”; I asked him, “*Will* you make me a Gimlet?” Knowing he was there, I didn’t need to ask if he knew how to make it, there was little doubt that he’d be using fresh lime juice (or at least something other than Rose’s), and there was no “gin or vodka?” moment. “Of course,” he said.
And wow, this was *it*. Bone dry, with no gratuitous simple syrup (which so many places do), this was Smooth Ambler Greenbriar Gin, fresh lime juice, and (if I remember correctly), the barest hint of house-made cordial, so subtle that I didn’t detect it. All I know is that this was the Gimlet of my dreams, perfectly executed. And I got a second one, too.
One of us enjoyed the only draft beer, Stillwater Cellar Door ($6), a Belgian-styled Farmhouse Ale (Witbier) brewed by Stillwater Artisanal in Baltimore, and the other got what was perhaps the cocktail of the night (CON): a Piña Colada – yes, a Piña Colada, and one which I’ve never before experienced: this was towards the dry side, and was so complex that I was in disbelief. Note to self: get back to 2 Birds, 1 Stone and have a Bernbachian Piña Colada ASAP. A friend also had an Old Pal ($12) – (Canadian?) Whiskey, Vermouth, and Campari – which I took one sip of and enjoyed.
For my last drink, I asked Adam for “Rye and dry,” and let him make whatever he wanted to make. He came up with yet another near-perfect cocktail: rye (I’m not sure which type), Bonal Gentiane Quinquina, and Celery Bitters.
2 Birds, 1 Stone will only be as good as its bartenders, and I suppose one day Adam will no longer be there full-time (how could he be, with Proof, Estadio, and Doi Moi to oversee?). But as long as he’s there, it is a glorious watering hole, one to be enjoyed *now* and not later. Call before you go, and see if he’s working. I’m not saying other bartenders there can’t fill in; merely that it’s a sure-thing if Adam is there.