Artist: Stanley Morrison
Skip the early bird special and head out during happy hour and request the Jungle Bird cocktail.
I'm going to let you in on a secret so saucy you will pledge your loyalty to me for the rest of your life. Yes, it's that juicy. This isn't a local secret, it's world wide.
Listen, it will be especially potent for people who experienced the 70's. Our generation can not be beat for hedonism.
Without further ado......
In 1972 the Hilton Kuala Lumpur opened in Malaysia. The Aviary Bar was a showcase for the hotel. It was the creme de' la creme. The focal point, if you will. It was a fantastical spectacle.
There were over fifty jungle birds in a netted setting visible through the glass along the wall of the lounge. It was tropical, sensual and indulgent.
This bar was created to make you feel desire and desired. Visitors come from thousands of miles to liberate them from their day-to-day life and chores, allowing them to indulge in their secret desires.
This wasn't the original plan for the hotel, but they went with it. Reinhard Steffen was the food and beverage manager of the hotel. He met with Jeffrey Ong, the head bartender to come up with a signature cocktail that would indulge the fantasies and add to the already sensual atmosphere.
Well, Jeffrey Ong was up for the challenge.
He created the Jungle Bird.
Now that we have the technical part of the drink out of the way, let's get to the heart of the story. Shall we?
Jeffrey's drink was tasty, but Reinhard wanted to jazz it up bit. He found a local artist who made special clay glassware in the shape of birds. There were no two alike.
Firash Mollycoddle was the artist. Firash in Malaysian means perceptiveness and ingenuity. He was the third part of this lascivious trio. Unbeknownst to them they would unlock a potion which allows certain people to experience there most secret desire. The trio were now interlocked.
Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash
Firash, being perceptive, knew they were looking for something cabalistic to offer the patrons. Even though they didn't know that's what they wanted, it was exactly what they needed.
He charmed the glassware without their knowledge. However, he did hint to Jeffrey and Reinhard something special would happen in the right circmustance.
He told them to pay attention to the customers, listen to them as if your life depended on it. This is also the origin of where bartenders became unofficial counselors. The really good ones paid attention not only like their lives depended on it, but their tips as well. Most bartenders did well, but only a select few graduated to mastery
The Aviary Bar became infamous. People traveled from all over the world to go there. News of wishes granted and lives changed for both good and bad, travelled fast and the rich and famous could afford to see what the buzz was all about.
Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash
The mystical event began a few weeks after grand opening. It was an early Tuesday evening and the crowd was light. The three inventors sat at the bar talking about current events when a wealthy gentleman walked up to the bar. He looked forlorn.
oCal lifted the glass and took a sip. The trio leaned in. As he drank they felt a slight breeze from the wings flapping. How could that be? It was a glass made of clay. Abruptly Mr. Cojones sat up. His eyes rolled back into his head. He was in some sort of trance.
In his dream state he stood at the edge of the water in a coastal bay. The very large pink Spoonbill eyed him up and down. You see, in some cultures bird spirit animals assist in gaining higher knowledge. The spoonbill is known for sweeping obstacles out of ones way. Shyness, wariness, silence and grit are a few of its attributes. They are a symbol of strength.
Spoonie spoke to Cal. He told him he needed to quit hanging out and working with shallow people. It's lazy. It's o.k. If I do it, I'm eating them. You are not. Go deeper. Do not be shy and question their motives. He explained how to go about it with tact and grace. You will "know" if the answers are true or not. Cal wanted to know how this all worked. Spoonie pecked him hard in the head causing Cal to jump back and yell, "What was that for?"
Spoonie lost his patience. "Look your name is Cojones. Grow a pair. That love peck on the head I just gave you imparted wisdom and hopefully a little bit of chutzpah to carry on. This was your secret desire, no?
Cal hugged Spoonie, which the bird did not like at all. He went to peck him again, but Cal weaved and bobbed and thanked him. He was euphoric.
Meanwhile back at the Aviary bar the trio were freaking out. Cal was slumped on the bar. Then out of now where a bleeding wound appeared on his head. They knew the Jungle Bird drink was special. They didn't realize it was dangerous.
After what seemed like hours, but really was only minutes, Cal sat up. Something was different. He emanated confidence until he felt the lump on his head. He looked around and grabbed a linen cloth folded in the shape of a swan from a nearby table and wiped his head. He downed the rest of the cocktail, got up and left a generous tip.
The trio were stunned, What happened? If they didn't see it for themselves they would've never believed the transformation. Or what just transpired.
Reinhard told Jeffrey, " Make another drink." He did and they all tasted it. Nothing happened. No fog. No trance. NO magic. They were disappointed, but a tad bit relieved.
It was a few weeks before another incident occurred. This time the lady vacationing confided in the bartender. She was emboldened by the fact that she was thousands of miles from home and anyone who knew her. She was tipsy on gin and tonic.
Firash entered the bar an was drawn to the lady. She had mile high blonde hair and legs for days. He looked at Jeffrey. The bartender winked. Then nodded to Reinhard who was in the dining room checking on guests. He slowly made his was to the bar.
Firash sat down next to the lady and introduced himself. She held our her hand. "My name is Annette Felicitous. I'm vacationing from Tulsa, Oklahoma."
"Well, Annette from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I think you should try the the hotel's signature drink, the Jungle Bird." There was applause in the dining room after he said Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was kind of weird, but helped.
"Well, alright then barkeep, I'll take one please." The fog circled the glassware once again. It landed on the toucan. Jeffrey accommodated the mist and prepared the drink. He waited a second then asked Annette if she would share with the other two what she just told him.
She was taken aback but felt like she was among friends, and hell, she was never going to see them again. Why not?
"Gentlemen, it's been my dream, my fantasy, my most secret desire since I was a little girl to be a singer."
The Toucan wiggled in Jeffrey's hand. He turned around grabbed the birdcage and presented her with the cocktail. When she lifted the cage a glow surrounded her. I mean she was a beautiful lady, but now she dazzled. They could not take their eyes off of her,
She took a sip and closed her eyes in appreciation. Then she found herself sitting on a limb in a canopy of trees in the jungle dangling her feet. There wasn't a lick of fear in her. The view was amazing, then a loud caw took her out of her silence. Sitting right next to here was a Toucan.
After a few minutes of a staring contest he began to speak. This didn't shock her, in fact she was expecting it. This colorful, hypnotizing matriarch told Annette, "It is time for you to be bold. Be colorful. Razzle-Dazzle my darling. I"ve followed you all of your life and you CAN sing. You have the power to move people, to inspire, to make magic. Share your gift with someone other than the shampoo and conditioner. It's time for you to be vocal."
Annette felt a ripple flow through her. She was speechless, but only momentarily. Then she sang. And sang. And sang. The jungle went quiet. The next thing she knew she was standing on stage at the Aviary Bar singing with the house band.
When she stopped there was silence, just like in the jungle. Then an enormous sound erupted from the crowd. There were whistles, hand clapping hootin' and hollerin'. She stood there in all her glory soaking in the accolades.
She thanked the audience and the Toucan.
The trickster trio figured out what the classified phrase was to wake the Jungle Bird. It was secret desire. The recipient had to willingly reveal their deepest yearnings. Then the Jungle Bird accommodated.
This went on and on. Most times it was a beautiful experience to witness, but there were a few sinuous cases. The three swore never to speak of those.
The trio were hooked on the feeling of watching peoples lives change. They felt like a powerful diety. They wanted more of this power. As promised they never spoke of the rare depraved incidents. They were unanimous in thinking the good outweighed the bad. Their collective secret desire was to live forever and provide these encounters with the individuals who were ready.
That evening after last call they sat at the end of the bar. Reinhard suggested they hold hands but the other two smacked him upside the head. They compromised and put their hands on the bar facing upward. They looked to the birds that were on display and simultaneously declared the secret desires.
Well, hells bells, those birds went bat shit crazy. The most fog they ever saw morphed into a mushroom cloud. The cawing, the wing flapping breeze, and the clouds. The clouds just kept rolling in until they disappeared.
Sitting on the bar was a Jungle bird drink served in The-Bird-of-Paradise glass. It sat inside a golden bird cage. The trio opened their eyes and gasped. Firash didn't make this particular urn, and nobody knew where the golden bird cage came from.
Reinhard lifted the cage and slid the potion towards them. He took a sip, then passed it to Jeffrey who passed it to Firash. They watched each other closely but nothing seemed to happen. Each man took stock of his body, then gave a once over to the others. Nothing appeared different.
Except, there was a faint hum coming from each of the participants. Each one had an electric pulse flowing through them, yet nothing was happening.
The next day all three were called into the general managers office of the hotel. Which was kind of strange because Firash didn't work for the hotel. The manager was confused because he was a local artist who made bird glassware for the Aviary Lounge. Magical feathered MoFo's that is. So, yeah, he belonged in this meeting.
The manager sat behind his desk wiping sweat from his brow. He motioned for them to take a seat. Apparently the owner of Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton wanted to have a face time call with the three amigos.
The hotel tycoon popped up on a screen looking larger than all the men in the room. He got straight to the point. Great things were being said about the Aviary Lounge and it all stemmed from these three men. The buzz from this tiny bar in Malaysia was putting his flagship hotels to shame. London, The Waldorf Astoria, Switzerland and Paris, they were in the shadow of Malaysia.
Rumors floated about. Fantastical rumors, that wishes were granted, wild life changing experiences were happening and it all came back to these three men. You can't buy that type of advertising. The Aviary Bar went viral.
The gentlemen looked at each other and shrugged. Reinhard joined in saying he was aware of the rumors but didn't know where they originated. The other two added that well, why not play along?
"Good show!" Conrad Hilton bellowed. As a thank you I"m going to relocate each of you to a different Hilton around the world. You will be in charge of the signature bars and bring your mojo with you. Then you will move on to the next hotel."
"I will move you around according to results. You will of course have a huge pay raise and many perks to go along with your new position. And yes, I'm aware the artist doesn't work for me, but he does now. Is that a problem Firash?" He inquired.
"No sir." The artist was now in the hospitality industry.
Conrad finished up with assignments for each of the men. The screen went blank. The manager was flabbergasted. The trio were ecstatic. Their wishes were granted only they were going solo now.
For years the three men travelled the world building up an infamous reputation. Groupies followed them all over the globe. Most never saw the magic, but there was always the hope of witnessing the gossip from the grapevine.
Every now and agin they would meet up at one of the hotels to triple the goodness of transformations. The reunions we're always fun and eventful. Three immortal bachelors playing Genie in the most luxurious playgrounds on the planet. Life was indeed great.
As always, good things must come to an end. The problem arose when even though they didn't age, the customers did. The trend for tropical drinks, was not in fashion anymore. Nobody ordered the Jungle Bird. Every one wanted to do shots. All kinds of shots, fancy, classic and even off the body, It was crazy. They were going out of style, yet stayed the same age. They didn't know how to bring back the tiki era of cocktails.
Until......they met up in Hollywood, California. It was a spot they never visited. After years of success with the Hilton chain they were granted full privileges at any Hilton in the world.
They were sitting in the director's lounge when a geeky film maker walked in and bellied up to the bar. Their collective electric pulse began to hum.
He wore a floral shirt, straw hat, fancy watch and flip flops. It appeared he was a working beach bum. Jeffrey walked over while Firash and Reinhard slid a little closer to hear the conversation
The Beachbum ordered a Mai Tai, the quintessential tiki drink. The trio was hopeful this was the Earth helper to revive the cause.
Jeffrey told him this drink was on the house because he also loved the tiki era and didn't get a chance to make these drinks often. The Beachbum perked right up. He held out his hand and introduced himself.
"My name is Jeff Berry. It's a pleasure to meet you."
He sipped the drink, closed his eyes to savor the flavor. It was quite possibly the best drink he'd ever had.
"What a coincidence, my name is Jeffrey. I suppose we are birds of a feather."
Well, that opened up the conversation. Nobody much listened to Jeff in this town, but the bartender did. He told them he was a screen writer and journalist. There were only a few successful films under his belt but he didn't love the industry. He loved everything tiki.
He loved the food, the drinks, the clothes, the lifestyle, the freedom to be who you are. His dream was to open a restaurant all tiki, all the time. But he also wanted to write books about the drinks, and travel around showcasing the places that made them. Perhaps make a documentary.
By this time he was flanked by Firash and Reinhard. They were listening with zeal and the Beachbum soaked it in.
One thing the trio knew for sure during their many years is everything old becomes new again. Jeff "the Beachbum" Berry was their man. They also witnessed many hidden dreams revealed. They were solid in the process.
They went about persuading this savior of wishes to divulge his dream out loud by using the phrase secret desire.
After an hour you would of thought the four men knew each other since grade school and this was a reunion. They spoke of their lives to him too. Firash leaned into the Beachbum and told him his "Keinginan Rahsia". The Beachbum, looked at him bewildered. Firash explained that was how you say secret desire in Malaysian. That's where he was from. He told him his Keinginan Rahsia was for the tiki era to come back as well. It reminded him of home.
Well, that touched the Beachbum's heart. He hugged him. That was Jeffrey's cue to introduce him to the Jungle Bird.
"My friend, I would like you to try a special drink from the Avairy Lounge. It was my first job as bartender and it was my first invention of a signature drink. An aficionado like yourself will appreciate this drink. Especially after you told us about your dreams."
The Beachbum perked up." I'd love to try it. Your language is beautiful. My deepest Keinginan Rahisa is to try this drink and bring back the glorious era of tiki, the tropics, the beautiful way of life. I want everyone to know about this. " He declared.
Before you knew it the mist circled under the bar where the glassware was. Then the magic revealed the Bird of paradise glass. The trio was shocked because this is the one that revealed itself to them back in Malaysia. They also left that particular glass at the Aviary Lounge. It was also sitting in the same golden birdcage with the drink already mixed. Where did everything come from?
Jeff, the Beachbum Berry's eyes grew wide and a similar hum came from him. He sipped the drink and pleasure ripped though him. He finished the drink in silence then got up and left the bar with no goodbye, even though the trio became the quad squad.
The trio were confounded. Something transpired, but nobody knew what. They finished their weekend and went back to their respective hotels.
Meanwhile in Hollywood, The Beachbum quit his job, and started traveling the globe in search of the best tiki drinks, locations, and lifestyles. He wrote a few books on the cocktails of his dreams, and he featured the Jungle Bird. His following grew and grew. He became a celebrity in the foodie world.
His restaurant, Keinginan Rahsia opened a year later.
He found the trio and invited them to the grand opening They knew what he was up to because his evangelizing of the tropical way led to the return of the tiki. They were back in the genie business. Of course they knew his restaurant would be a success, but they were genuinely surprised at the name. Secret desire in Malaysian was the cherry on top.
So, my friends, the trio is still around. I'm not quite sure about the Beachbum, but if you're looking to have your secret desire fulfilled you must find a lounge. The mystical bartenders are a little more incognito these days. Find a lounge that is classic. It must be dark, kind of like a gentlemen's club, an old steak house, something formal where the patrons look like they are constipated. You may have better luck there. The darker, the better.
If possible look for the bartender wearing a monocle. That's their new fashion accessory. Belly up to the bar and say the phrase, Keinginan Rahsia, followed by your order of a Jungle Bird.