July 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM
For the past five years, 2 Birds 1 Stone has been one of the most dependable cocktail destinations in the District. The inventive and flavorful cocktails change weekly, using housemade sodas and tinctures. Choices are highlighted on beverage director Adam Bernbach's funky hand-drawn menus, which are mounted on recycled cardboard. The space itself, tucked beneath Doi Moi but entered through a basement staircase around the corner, feels like a wonderful secret, especially if you find a seat in one of the cozy nooks near the bar.
But that will come to an end in August, days after the award-winning bar, which has been a fixture in The Post's annual best bars ranking, celebrates its fifth anniversary. Bernbach, the mastermind behind 2 Birds — and, before that, the man behind the cocktails at sister restaurants Estadio and Proof — will return to work at Estadio, where he recently helped craft a month-long “Juntonico” celebration of Spanish-style gin and tonics.
The 2 Birds space will be “reconceptualized” by the Doi Moi team, with drinks by Lukas B. Smith of Cotton and Reed. A press release from parent company Fat Baby Inc. calls the split “a mutual agreement.”
“I made the decision [to leave 2 Birds] a few months ago,” Bernbach says. “2 Birds is something I've been really passionate about for years, but it requires so much creative focus to do it well. It's really inflexible: Every week, it requires an extensive amount of focus,” to create the cocktails and menus. Because of the time commitment, he says, “there have been other things I wanted to do but couldn't.”
While 2 Birds is closing, Bernbach isn't sitting still. In a few weeks, he'll begin a night called Lazy Omakase at Suns Cinema in Mount Pleasant, with weekly drink menus in the tradition of the weekly “Cocktail Sessions” he once ran at Bar Pilar. (Watch the Lazy Omakase Instagram feed for more information.)
Bernbach is cagey about what else is in his future — “a few larger projects are coalescing, and will arrive later in the fall,” he says. In addition to consulting on menus for other bars, “There are things I'm heavily involved in, but I'm not the point person on them, so I don't want to talk about them,” he says.
For the month of August, 2 Birds will run a “greatest hits"-style cocktail menu, with a selection of best sellers and staff favorites. Customers can vote for their favorite drink, which will be kept on at whatever bar replaces 2 Birds.
Bernbach says putting together this last menu has been “pretty emotional,” but “I don't look back on these cocktails with any amount of regret. I'm pretty psyched about most of them. The drinks at 2 Birds were a little more cartoony, a little more wild than what I did [at other bars], but still refined in how they're executed.”
There's also the matter of the closing party on Aug. 27. “There will definitely be piña coladas,” Bernbach says.
2 Birds 1 Stone, 1800 14th St. NW. (Entrance on S Street.) Open at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.