When Las Aves used to be known as A Capella, we tagged the bar and restaurant as a perfectly clandestine location for an affair, a nefarious business meeting or a place to hatch plots. And we meant that in the best possible way — to paraphrase “Cheers,” sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name. But Las Aves, which has taken over the space and remains a part of the Best Western near Cottage Hospital, is having none of that. Remodeled into something bright and airy, with no division between bar and restaurant, you will be noticed, even by people next door at the pool. However, you get to watch them too, so, hey, it ain’t all bad.
Owner Ivan Arroyo, who last worked at CafÉ Del Sol, bought the place only recently and has spent the last month getting ready for the soft opening earlier in April. They just opened and waited to see who would come in, he says. Then we turned up, begging for cocktails.
Fortunately, Gabriel Mejia, who has decades of experience working at the Biltmore, Wine Cask and Citronelle, knows how to make some adult cocktails, not overly fruity. The Las Aves Lemon Drop uses Ketel One Vodka, lemon juice, triple sec and Tuaca, a nice twist on the usual sweetener. Arriving without a sugar rim, we liked the pure lemon flavor at the center of the drink and its subtle sweetness.
Similar boldness came in the Las Aves Margarita. The tequila is Herradura, the mix is Cointreau, Grand Marnier, sweet-and-sour and fresh lemon and lime juices. But the brown sugar and salt rim gives it a complex zing. Refreshing, light in taste but strong in liquor, this classic cocktail got our seal of approval.
The Sangria, which Mejia whipped up for us, comes in a hurricane glass and mixes Ketel One, triple sec, orange and pineapple juices, along with pinot noir (the wine element depends on what is currently offered at the bar, but it’s usually local). An “adult fruit punch” said our fellow mixologist. Not watered down with ice or chunked up with fruit, this is more of a cocktail impression of the drink. But my, it tasted good.
But we’ve left the best for last. Most Raspberry martinis kick things up with fruit-flavored vodkas and cranberry juice for color. Mejia doesn’t even muddle his fruit. Just some fresh raspberries put in the shaker with Grey Goose, triple sec and a splash of lemon juice. The brisk agitation splits up the raspberry, coloring the drink and adding flavor. Girly? Not really. Fresh and flavorful? Definitely.
4 counts Grey Goose Vodka
2 counts triple sec
5 fresh raspberries
Splash of lemon juice
Sugar, if needed
Combine liquids and fruit with ice and shake well. Add sugar to taste, if needed. Strain into martini glass.
LAS AVES CAFÉ
2220 Bath St.