While seated with Bibo Ergo Sum owner Tait Forman and general manager Daniel Zacharczuk, at a table of glistening drinks, we looked around the glamorous, comfortable room with new eyes. Bibo (as it’s referred to) evokes the cinematic style of a classic art deco bar in Paris or Hollywood, but the goal of the symmetrical interior design by Home Studios was to feel both timeless and inviting. “We wanted people to feel very grounded in tradition and the history of incredible spaces for hospitality,” explains Forman. “We blended that together in such a way that it still feels present. We are not a retro bar. We are not a speakeasy.”
This spirit is reflected in the menu, as well. “First and foremost, we want to serve thoughtful drinks in a fun way, in a way that guides our guests in the experience,” he continues. The first Bibo drink list, The Prestige Menu, was created around cocktail experiences based on the process behind a magic trick: the pledge, the turn, the prestige.
For their latest menu, Forman and Zacharczuk wanted to categorize cocktails in a way that would be meaningful for their guests. “We started brainstorming in July and ultimately settled on this idea of Bibo through the ages,” says Zacharczuk. “Which is imagining our ethos—what it meant for Bibo to exist in three distinctly different time periods.”
“I think the ethos of the bar ‘I drink therefore I am,’ in Latin, Bibo Ergo Sum, spans cultures,” adds Zacharczuk. “A lot of the English language comes from Latin, as well as the French and Spanish. We wanted to ask, ‘How does the identity of this bar translate?’ Then ‘How do we translate this idea through time?’ You do that with style, you do that with cuisine. You do it with cinema.” The result was cocktails developed by focusing on preparation as well as perception. Then organizing this new menu into three eras—Old Style, Neon, and Present & Beyond—each with its own logo and personality.
For the Old Style menu, the Nite Lite illustrates their intentions. “You could probably have a whole degree in bars and cocktails—there would be a whole major on Old Fashioneds,” says Zacharczuk. “Our Nite Lite version is boozy, slightly bitter and slightly fruity.” The flavor profile is both familiar and surprising. “I have not mixed a drink with Frangelico since I was at TGI Fridays 10 years ago,” he continues. “This cocktail is a combination of ingredients you probably wouldn’t normally mix together. A smoky amaro, Frangelico and apricot liqueur.”
Zacharczuk explains how house-made mead syrup became the essential ingredient for their Henrietta Sling—a cocktail named for “professor” Jerry Thomas’ wife. “When I was at Bar Clacson the honey syrup was made by weight and not by volume with the scale. Honey is way heavier than water. Someone forgot about it, and it fermented. That is the basic building blocks of mead,” he says. “It’s delicious. It’s sweet, but not cloying or a turn-off. It’s fermented, so there is a bread-y, yeasty quality. If you like sweet champagne you are going to love mead syrup.” Bibo’s mead is made with clover honey and let to sit for three weeks.
Also in the Henrietta Sling is cava and Xamayca Plantation Rum. “It is super fruity without being too sweet. It is a little funky without being overwhelming. It adds to the funk of the mead syrup without overwhelming the Lustau Fino Sherry,” says Zacharczuk. “ It dries it out really nicely, balances out the breadiness of the mead syrup and acts as a bridge.”
The next section of the menu evokes the disco era with colorful cocktails. Forman says, “For Neon, the bright is in flavor and color.” The Cadillac Swizz pairs Plymouth Gin, Verde Momento Mezcal, and Falernum with fresh carrot, lemon, Thai chili and mint. “Sitting in front of you it is beautifully orange with just a sprig of mint. With a little sugar powder on top,” Forman continues. “It hits that energy we are trying to get at with that section. Vibrancy in flavor and texture.”
In the Present & Beyond section of the menu, the Invisible Daiquiri was born out of a Bibo Hour—a series of events that sees brand representatives creating cocktails with their spirits. For the House Spirits Distillery Bibo Hour, the team wanted to create a daiquiri that would highlight Casa Magdalena Rum. They added Seedlip Spice, pandan syrup and clarified lime juice to round out the elegant crystal clear daiquiri recipe. For the cocktail, the team at Bibo clarifies lime juice by sourcing agar agar powder (which comes from sea kelp) and heating it, then adding lime juice and agitating it before pouring over ice. “It still tastes like lime, but the powder makes it more stable. You take out the solids. If anything, it tastes like a pure version of lime,” says Zacharczuk. “There is such a lean toward sustainability and being thoughtful about the products we have. Being able to clarify juice serves a purpose,” adds Forman.
Despite the specific and delightfully thoughtful menus, the shelves at Bibo are ready for all requests. “We have everything from Jack Daniel’s and Grey Goose, to Japanese whiskies, Uncle Nearest, and funky rums,” says Forman. “We are planning for everyone. Come to the bar, let’s hang out and see what happens.”
Images courtesy of Bibo Ergo Sum