Welcome to the Jungle

Say aloha to The Jungle Bird, the new midtown tiki lounge where it’s always island time and the mai tais are ever flowing
Clockwise from top right: The Jungle Bird’s pu pu platter, which includes coconut shrimp, crab Rangoon and kalua pork sliders; the front bar topped with a thatched roof; the festive, rum-based Don’s Zombie cocktail. Photos by Marc Thomas Kallweit.

The bird is the word—new tiki bar The Jungle Bird, that is, which has been buzzing since it opened in midtown Oct. 26. Inspired by spots like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s, tropical kitsch rules the scene—think leafy wallpaper, thatched roofs, carved totems, parrot figurines hanging from the ceiling, and fishnets laden with multicolored glass bulbs.

“We wanted to create a ‘You’re not in Sacramento anymore’ [feel],” says Tyler Williams, who co-owns the lounge with his wife Melissa (the couple also run the nearby Tank House BBQ and Bar) and master mixologist Buddy Newby. “When you walk inside, you are outside in the jungle. When you go out [to the back patio], you’re on the beach.”

Strains of 1940s jazz evoke the post-war tiki era, while the kitchen, helmed by chef Matt Brown, formerly of 58 Degrees &  Holding and The Golden Bear, fires up island-inspired eats like flaky coconut shrimp, kalua pork sliders with pineapple preserves and macadamia-crusted mahi mahi.

Over at the bar, the cocktail menu teems with showy tropical libations like the classic mai tai, a blend of rums, orange curacao, orgeat and lime (tip: request it in a $15 specialty glass to take home); the traditional zombie, made with three kinds of rum, fruit juices and falernum; and original concoctions like Invader’s Bay, a spirit-forward drink with banana liqueur and bitters.

“Right now is the perfect time to bring this style in because Sacramento has really embraced the craft cocktail,” says Williams. “We’re doing very intricately made cocktails, but we’re offering them in a whimsical way. We want you to have fun.”

2516 J St. 476-3280. thejunglebird.com