Tait Forman’s goal was not to create just any bar. He aimed to make Bibo Ergo Sum in Los Angeles that bar from your memories — the one you can’t forget and want to return to over and over again.
“I love the power that a great cocktail and great company can have as an emotional and transformational experience,” the cocktail consultant said. “I wanted the opportunity to try and provide that for others as well, and basically continue to create that space.”
So far, Forman has been successful with his bar Bibo Ergo Sum (Latin for “I drink, therefore I am”), which opened in West Hollywood’s up-and-coming Robertson Plaza in late 2017. The bar is quickly gaining buzz around Los Angeles for its unique cocktails and stunning art deco interior.
The 2006 magician movie The Prestige inspired Bibo Ergo Sum’s opening cocktail menu, which the 18 drinks are divided into the three stages of an illusion: the Pledge, riffs on classic cocktails; the Turn, unexpected takes on simple flavors; and The Prestige, unique cocktails with complex flavors.
“When you look at a cocktail menu, there's 10-plus cocktails [in a list],” Forman said. “I wanted guests to not have to think about all of those options at once, but divide it into sections, so that they can kind of have more of a guideline for how to work their way through the menu.”
The movie theme wasn’t completely intentional, but it fits with Forman’s previous experience — his family runs Arclight Cinemas. Forman worked with Proprietors LLC’s David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Devon Tarby on the cocktail menu for the new cocktail bar, which then led to Proprietors recently revamping food and beverage program at Arclight.
So far, several cocktails stand out on the current menu. Forman pointed to the Turn’s Grandpa Joe, a stirred whiskey sour with American whiskey, clarified orange and lemon juices, Gran Marnier, and Angostura bitters with a block of ice. “It's already a dangerously drinkable cocktail,” Forman said. “If people say they're into whiskey, that's usually where I steer them first.”
The Prestige’s High Note is made with toasted sesame Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, Illegal Joven Mezcal, coconut cream, pineapple and lime juices, pandan, Thai chili. “Man, that’s a smiley drink,” Forman said. “You drink that, and you're having a good night.”
Forman’s personal favorite is The Prestige’s Cold Hollow, with Lustau Amontillado and Oloroso sherries, salted caramel apple cordial, Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac, Plantation OFTD rum. “For being as low alcohol as it is, it’s just such an explosion of sherry flavor,” Forman said. “It's really rad.”
Forman knew he wanted to team up with Proprietors after visiting New York City’s Death & Company with his wife and his sister-in-law a few years ago. He called the bar “one of his first true cocktail bar experiences.”
“The bar staff were sweet — they wanted to help and they were attentive,” Forman recalled. “At the same time, there was this book of incredible potions. I was completely awestruck. When it came back around to writing the business plan for Bibo, I was like, ‘Man, if only I could talk to the guys who opened that bar.’”
After that, Forman contacted Proprietors with the goal of creating a similar feeling for Bibo Ergo Sum and its location in Robertson Plaza. Currently, the plaza also includes a Blue Bottle Coffee location and other restaurants in the process of moving into the space.
“It's been so exciting to see people who live in the neighborhood come back,” Forman said. “Ultimately, the goal is that we want to serve the people in this neighborhood who just want that local hangout, that place to go after a long day of work and meet up with a buddy, or just kind of come hang out and chat with the staff.”