Kearny Mesa's Hive Serves up an Impressive Drink Menu
Ram Udwin’s tiki drinks help make the mega-restaurant a surprising cocktail destination
Ram Udwin, behind the bar at Hive. | Photo: Kelly Davis
At first glance, you might not consider Hive to be a craft cocktail destination. It’s in Kearny Mesa’s Convoy District, an area known more for its food than cocktails. Located in a large, warehouse-like space next to Chorus Karaoke & Bar, Hive is a self-described “mega-restaurant” designed to appeal to the nightlife crowd. But on a recent Sunday, in the quietest corner of the bar, separated from the din by shelves of rum he'd hand-selected, Ram Udwin was serving some pretty amazing tiki cocktails.
Udwin, the guy behind the Boy Drinks World line of cocktail bitters and spices, is working with bar manager Jay Choi, a former Glenfiddich ambassador, to introduce craft cocktails to the Convoy crowd. A cornerstone of the menu are Choi’s barrel-aged cocktails — including two Old Fashioneds (one made with Old Forrester and one made with Woodford Reserve rye), a Vieux Carre, and a Mint Julep — designed to be served quickly when Hive is busy without sacrificing quality. The cocktails are pre-made and aged in oak barrels for two to three weeks, then bottled. Bartenders just need to grab the appropriate glassware from the refrigerator (pre-filled with the correct type of ice), pour, stir, garnish, and serve. Choi’s favorite is the Rusty Nail, a mildly sweet, warm-and-rich blend of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Drambuie, local honey, and spices.
Udwin’s expertise is tiki cocktails and on Sunday, May 7, starting at 5 p.m., he’ll be serving a special menu of four of his creations to celebrate Hive’s grand-opening weekend (the restaurant’s been in soft-opening mode since March). You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu — Udwin’s cocktails achieve that ethereal quality that tiki aficionados seek out. If you like a more traditional tiki drink, try the Plan Killer, a take on a Pain Killer, made with Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof and Corruba Dark rums, coconut, housemade grenadine syrup, Donn’s mix, and Boy Drinks World passion fruit bitters.
There’s also the tart, summer-y Up A Creek, served with a paddle and made with Pusser’s rum, passion fruit bitters, a housemade sauvignon blanc syrup, and lemon. The SPF 2001 (passion fruit bitters and coconut fat-washed Pusser’s rum) is topped with a lovely passion fruit foam. And the Captain Pepper’s Grog has a nice bit of heat from Boy Drinks World's serrano cocktail spice.
Choi and Udwin didn't know each other before they started working together, but have been sharing knowledge from each other’s areas of expertise to create an impressive menu. “He’s been killing it,” Choi said. Udwin plans to do more specialty menus for Sundays at Hive — either tiki or rum-focused and served in the more intimate setting of Hive’s back bar — and hopes to add an educational component to Tuesday evenings by bringing in some of his favorite distillers. To keep up on the schedule, follow Boy Drinks World on Facebook or Instagram.
Got a suggestion for a future post? Email me.