“Drinking and golfing go hand-in-hand,” Andrew Esparza said, sitting in his new bar surrounded by golf-related decor. Birdies n Brews, Long Beach’s first indoor golf bar, opened its doors on Sept. 20, offering guests the chance to drink some booze while they whack some balls in a “cozy” country-club-meets-cabin-meets-man-cave atmosphere.
The idea came to Esparza a few years ago, after his wedding in Lake Tahoe. While in the mountain city, he noticed several indoor golf joints, which are in high demand in the area due to the weather. Shortly after returning home to Southern California, a rainy day spoiled the Downey native’s tee time, and he told his wife, Jasmine, he wished there was a local indoor golf bar.
“And here we are, three years later,” Esparza said. “It took a while but it’s done.”
The owner/operators enlisted Jasmine’s two sisters, Tiffany Hernandez and Samantha Ortiz, to help run the business. Hernandez, who has worked as a bartender at three of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”—Employees Only and Cosme in New York and Callooh Callay in London—is the beverage director, while Ortiz is the bartender.
Birdies n Brews features two golf simulators that cost $25,000 each. The rigs include a projector, a system that tracks every aspect of the golfer’s swing—club speed, angles, etc.—along with contact with the ball and the ball’s subsequent speed and trajectory.
The balls are struck into the large screen that shows the virtual golf course. The virtual ball travels according to the tracking system’s real-time readings, with nearly 100% accuracy, while providing data on the swing, Esparza said.
Aside from the basic driving range setting, the system features games such as target practice and more than 40 golf courses, including popular locations like the famous Monterey County course Pebble Beach. Patrons can play the entire course or single holes, such as Pebble Beach’s beautiful 7th, which SB Nation calls an architectural miracle.
“There are courses that are on the PGA Tour that you probably would never get to play on in real life,” Esparza said, “but you can play them here.”
Tee time is paid for by the hour: $35 per hour for the first person, plus $10 for each additional person.
The bar features basic munchy items such as chips and candy, but also higher-end snacks, including hummus with pita bread and charcuterie boards with up to three different meats and cheeses, crackers, nuts, grapes and jam. Hernandez said she also 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 array of alcoholic beverages. For the beer selection, Hernandez said she put a heavy emphasis on local and state breweries.
“I made it a point to … find brands that are either [people of color]-, female- or LGBTQ-brewed and -owned,” Hernandez said, noting that their bar is family- and Latinx-owned. “It’s really important to me to be able to highlight people in our community.”
With a background in high-end cocktails, Hernandez takes particular pride in her low-ABV craft drinks. The menu includes a flight of three hand-crafted, spicy miches that are mixed with SouthNorte’s Sea Señor Mexican Lager. The Rojo is a blend of Roma tomato, orange bell pepper, and Valentina Hot, soy and Worcestershire sauces. The Verde miche is a mix of cilantro, tomatillo, green bell pepper, Jalapeño and poblano chile 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, Ibarra Mexican Chocolate and coconut foam. The coffee drink comes in a standard and mini size.
In the future, once the bar gets its liquor license, Hernandez said she 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 is a lot more space on an actual course, he said, noting that the bar will keep an even closer watch on the level of alcohol consumption with its golfers than a normal bar does.
While Esparza is concerned about safety surrounding swinging clubs, he said he is not worried about rogue balls causing injury or damage—except for the holes in the ceiling, which has been the only casualty when golfers mis-hit. There is a net on the other side of the tiles, he said, to keep balls from traveling any farther, adding that ceiling tiles are “pretty cheap.”
Extra ceiling tiles will come in handy as the space already has proven popular among novices. “I’ve already gotten a ton of new golfers in here just trying to get a feel for the game,” Esparza said. “Maybe they’ve been too embarrassed to go to an actual golf course but this is a really friendly environment.”
“Golf can be elitist and not inclusive,” Hernandez added. “It can be daunting, so to learn in this sort of casual way, I think, will allow for a more diverse crowd to enjoy the sport. And that’s how it should be.”
Birdies n Brews is located at 90 E. 4th St. and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.