The Riff

Riffing on the Jungle Bird

By: Lia Grabowski

A product of the 1970s, the Jungle Bird originated in Malaysia—at Kuala Lumpur’s Aviary Bar, hence the name—as a refreshing rum cocktail. Its intriguing complexity comes from the addition of Campari, a bitter and vibrantly red-orange Italian liqueur that tamps the sweetness of pineapple juice for a refreshing result.

“I think the Jungle Bird is one of those cocktails that has been pushed on the fringe. It’s a very underrated classic,” says Dalton Bedard, the bar manager at Charlie Park in Tallahassee, Florida. Bedard has traveled the globe with his wife, Thaísa, working in bars and immersing himself in the beverage culture from New Zealand and Indonesia to Dubai and Brazil before returning to his hometown of Tallahassee. Now, he brings that global influence to his cocktails at Charlie Park—before he jets off, again, to someplace new.

For an updated take on the classic Jungle Bird, Bedard takes the Malaysian cocktail to South America, introducing cachaça—a sugarcane spirit similar to rum—inspired by the time he spent in Brazil, working and learning from the country’s bartending community. Its name, Beija Flor, is Portuguese for hummingbird. “By replacing the rum with cachaça, and then using Campari, I feel like you get a little bit less of that abrasive bitterness and it becomes more well-rounded,” he says.

The rooibos tea syrup brings a floral quality that blends well with the assertive notes on the front end of the drink. The velvet falernum foam he adds for an expert-level twist comes from the Brazilian way to make a moscow mule—if you order the vodka-ginger beer cocktail in that country, it’ll likely come topped with a hearty dollop of foam. “I was kind of taken aback the first time I got one because I wasn’t aware of that, but it’s the standard there, so I wanted to translate that in a new way.”


The Jungle Bird

Beija Flor

Bedard tops the Beija Flor with a foam made from velvet falernum, a Caribbean liqueur with notes of almond, clove, and lime, which brings a hint of earthiness to the drink. 

Private Island Punch

“The easiest way to create a punch is to base it around one bottle of hard liquor,” Bedard explains. For his iteration of a batch cocktail inspired by the Jungle Bird, he taps Plantation Pineapple Rum, a richly fruity spirit that he considers one of his favorites, especially for Tiki-style drinks.

trending content

More From The Riff

Leave a Reply

Be the first to comment.