Days after Hurricane Humberto swept through Bermuda in September, locals were still cleaning up the damage. Besides downing branches, the 120-mile-an-hour winds emptied trees of their fruit all over the island. As a result, cab drivers were handing out bananas to passengers; a deluge of avocados became guacamole at restaurants; and at one bar, Stefan Gitschner was slicing sour oranges to turn into oleo saccharum, an ingredient that would eventually go into his craft cocktails.
Gitschner opened the Birdcage in June, along with two business partners (his sister and brother-in-law, Selange and Matthew Strong). The indoor/outdoor cocktail bar overlooking Hamilton Harbor is perched at the top of what was once a container building owned by Sweden’s Team Artemis—the structure a remnant from 2017, when Bermuda hosted America’s Cup.
And while the island is best known for two cocktails—the Rum Swizzle, a blend of fruit juice, dark and gold rums, and bitters, and the Dark and Stormy, made with Gosling’s dark rum and ginger beer—the Birdcage is specializing in something a little different.
In 2015, Gitschner and a business partner started a cocktail catering company called Twisted Spoon. “We would go to parties, and there were always the same drinks,” he says. “At the time, cocktail culture didn’t really exist here. I’m not knocking the Swizzle or the Dark and Stormy, but I thought, what else can we do?” The niche business focused on using wild and foraged ingredients.
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Gitschner, who spent time as a chef before working as a liquor distributor at Gosling’s, tapped into his love of nature. “Seeing some of these things growing in the wild—prickly pears, gooseberries, allspice—I thought we could really incorporate this into a great cocktail program.” According to Gitschner, in the years since it launched, Twisted Spoon has had a part in building Bermuda’s more robust cocktail scene. “We definitely made everyone step the game up a little bit.”
As with Twisted Spoon, the menu at the Birdcage draws on ingredients Gitschner finds on the island—wild fennel, allspice, natal plums, white lantana, and bay grapes. He juices prickly pears for margaritas, makes syrup out of wild allspice, and infuses vodka with wild fennel. The sweet and sour bay grapes, which grow on the coastline, are made into a tincture. You can get a Dark and Stormy or a Swizzle, made with house grenadine, or you can try a Devil’s Grog—a fruity, not-too-sweet concoction that contains, among other things, homemade gooseberry bitters.
That they’re inspired by and created from the fruit and herbs that flourish here makes the drinks special. “A lot of these cocktails you won’t find anywhere else in the world,” says the chef. “Which is really cool, if you think about it. You’ve tried something that’s unique to this island.”
Below, find five more places Gitschner recommends for an excellent cocktail on Bermuda.
Ring the doorbell for entrance into this chic, one-room bar with a list of elaborate cocktails. “It’s a proper little speakeasy—the first of its kind here,” says Gitschner. No detail is spared for each meticulously crafted drink, including the ice cube, which is hewn in real time from a massive slab. “They have a creative team, and it’s a good place for wintertime drinking.”
Named for a bartender who retired in 2013 after working at the Rosedon hotel bar for 50 years, Beau’s has a build-your-own gin and tonic menu, with six different types of gin, five types of tonic, and a handful of garnishes. But according to Gitschner, one of its biggest draws is the secluded atmosphere: “I love their courtyard by the pool.”
On a more remote part of Bermuda, Woody’s is an island favorite. “They make the best fish sandwich on the island, in my opinion,” says Gitschner. “It’s a great little place to have a drink out by the dock.”
According to Gitschner, this unpretentious restaurant situated on the water in St. George’s is a good spot for a drink. It’s also loved by locals for its fresh seafood and perfectly fried wiener schnitzel, thanks to the restaurant’s Austrian chef and co-owner.
Headed by Gosling’s brand director Andrew Holmes, the cocktail program at Marcus Samuelsson’s namesake island outpost is an impressive one. The backdrop, with sweeping views of Hamilton Harbour, doesn’t hurt either.
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