Esparza got the idea a few years ago after his wedding in Lake Tahoe. He noticed several indoor golf courses in the mountain town, which are in great demand in the area due to the weather. Shortly after his return to Southern California, a rainy day spoiled tee time for the Downey native, and he told his wife, Jasmine, that he wished there was a local indoor golf bar.
“And here we are three years later,” said Esparza. “It took a while, but it was done.”
The owners / operators hired Jasmine’s two sisters, Tiffany Hernandez and Samantha Ortiz to run the business. Hernandez, who has served as the bartender in three of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – Employees Only and Cosme in New York and Callooh Callay in London – is the drinks director while Ortiz is the bartender.
Birdies n Brews has two golf simulators that are priced at $ 25,000 each. The rigs include a projector, a system that tracks every aspect of the golf swing – club speed, angle, etc. – along with ball contact and the subsequent speed and trajectory of the ball.
The balls are hit into the large screen that shows the virtual golf course. According to the real-time measurements of the tracking system, the virtual ball moves with an accuracy of almost 100% and at the same time provides data on the swing, said Esparza.
Aside from the basic driving range setting, the system features games like target practice and more than 40 golf courses, including popular locations like Monterey County’s famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. Guests can play the entire course or individual holes, such as the beautiful 7th hole at Pebble Beach, which SB Nation calls an architectural marvel.
“There are courses on the PGA Tour that you would probably never play in real life,” said Esparza, “but you can play them here.”
Start time is paid by the hour: USD 35 per hour for the first person, plus USD 10 for each additional person.
The bar offers basic snacks like chips and candy, but also high-end snacks, including hummus with flatbread and sausage boards with up to three different types of meat and cheese, crackers, nuts, grapes and jam. Hernandez said she would like to add a vegan “hot dog” to the menu in the future.
And the bar wouldn’t be a bar without a wide range of alcoholic beverages. When choosing beer, Hernandez placed great emphasis on local and state breweries.
“My goal is to… find brands that either [people of color]-, female, or LGBTQ brewed and owned, ”said Hernandez, noting that her bar is family and Latinx owned. “It is very important to me to highlight people in our community.”
Hernandez has a background in high-end cocktails and is particularly proud of their low-alcohol craft drinks. The menu includes a range of three handcrafted, flavorful miches mixed with SouthNortes Sea Señor Mexican Lager. The rojo is a mix of Roma tomato, orange pepper, and Valentina Hot, soy and Worcestershire sauces. The Verde Miche is a mixture of coriander, tomatillo, green pepper, jalapeño and poblano chili sauce. And the habanero miche includes Jamaican tuna roja, guava puree, habanero, and lemon.
Hernandez also created the Caddy Coffee, which includes an Irish stout beer reduction, Cold Brew Amaro, Mexican Ibarra chocolate and coconut foam. The coffee drink is available in a standard and mini size.
Going forward, once the bar gets its liquor license, Hernandez said it will introduce a curated cocktail program and wine list.
Of course, there are concerns when it comes to drinking alcohol and then swinging metal golf clubs in a confined space, Esparza said. While drinking has become synonymous with the sport among amateurs, there’s a lot more space in a real square, he said, noting that the bar will keep an even closer eye on their golfers’ alcohol consumption than a regular bar.
While Esparza is concerned about the safety of swinging clubs, he’s not worried that rogue balls could cause injury or damage – with the exception of the holes in the ceiling, which were the only victims if golfers were wrongly hit. There is a net on the other side of the tile, he said, to keep balls from moving further, adding that ceiling tiles are “pretty cheap”.
Additional ceiling tiles will come in handy as the space has already proven popular with beginners. “I’ve brought a lot of new golfers in here who are just trying to get a feel for the game,” said Esparza. “Maybe they were too embarrassed to go to a proper golf course, but this is a really friendly environment.”
“Golf can be elitist and not inclusive,” added Hernandez. “It can be daunting, so I think learning this way will allow a more diverse audience to enjoy the sport. And that is how it is supposed to be.”
Birdies n Brews is located at 90 E. 4th St. and is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.