Songbird: Where Comfort and Craft Blooms
We’re hitting our stride when it comes to the cocktail scene in our fast-evolving Downtown mecca. Fresh concepts are taking form as rapid as dew on a rose petal, all derived from the creative mist that has kept our city damp with new ideas. Only natural, every rose has a thorn. With a list of new set-the-bar kind of concepts comes the incorporation of high-end cocktail lists, intimidating personas, and packed rooms full of Instagram zombies blinding an innocent eye with an accidental flash. Here to protect us from the prick of a thorn on the stem of modern hospitality is Songbird Cafe, blooming an experience that merges art and hospitality, and within its rose collaged wallpapered walls contains an ingredient that is few and far to be found—comfort.
Blossom Plaza is where Songbird has constructed a nest. Entering through the coffee shops walk-in freezer is where you will find Songbird's wonderland inspired decor with chains of hanging lanterns hung above the sharply cornered bar-top.
Enough chirping, back to the main ingredient—comfort. By now Jason Yu has spotted you, and placed so delicately on the bar his unassuming, worn in small paper menu. Inside is the cocktail list, purveyed by Jason's creative and carefree mind.
The first page is designed by things that humorously rub him the wrong way, Sandals with Socks, for example, made with Rittenhouse Rye, Amaro di Angostura, lemon, cane sugar, and egg white. Jason has taken things that irk him and turned them into something a customer can’t get enough of, and when you unravel that notion, it’s then you will begin to understand the balance of comfort and complexity that exists when sitting with Jason in the air of Songbird.
Jason unravels modestly, “I’m not trying to be the best bar in LA, I just want to not suck. And I feel like I have achieved my goal.” Break Up By Text is an earthy and woodsy drink, served with Cane Run Rum, Branca Menta, lime, honey, lavender bitters, and soda. Exciting and ambitious, each cocktail is a treasure, and the best part about the entire experience is how unpretentious the imbibe goes down paired with Jason's dry, witty, wise, and addictive personality.
Unwavered by curiosity or distractions, Jason crafts the cocktails with moves as precise as Dudamel, and still manages to crack a joke, play along. No topic unanswered, patron unnoticed, and in the most natural sense—just killing it.
When asked about what a customer should take from Songbird, Jason wanders in thought, “there was someone in the past that told me they always try to leave people in a better condition than when they first met them. Even in the slightest way, a smile, a laugh. I always have operated in that mentality in the hospitality field.” Just when things begin to get serious, a customer breaks Jason’s concentration. “This drink Second Hand Smoke, do you put the lid on it, and smoke comes out?” Jason replies without missing a beat, “I don’t give away the endings of movies.” Laughter ensues, and somehow, a smoke-filled glass container doesn't feel forced—more natural and cool because Jason is controlling it.
If each day is a scene in the movie of our life Downtown, end it at Songbird Cafe with Jason. Sip damn fine cocktails, wander off into random topics, and don’t take life too seriously. A rose just blooms, it doesn't force itself or try to. Songbird Cafe and Jason Yu are blending execution and comfort, and though the setting stands artistic and loud, Jason’s hospitality isn't trying too hard. It's perfect—it cuts through the smoke.
Written by Travis Platt | Photography by Chimera Singer