Hidden cocktail bar Ranger Station opens inside Ladybird

Park ranger-style hideout to sling strong drinks and “small but mighty” selection of eats

A rendering of Ranger Station

Courtesy of Blur Architecture

Popular BeltLine watering hole Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall is launching a new bar-within-the-bar. Called Ranger Station, the new cocktail bar is a spinoff of Ladybird, featuring its own food and beverage menus and a unique atmosphere.

“In March, we set out to add 3,500 square feet of interior space, significantly larger and nicer restrooms, [and] an expanded dining room space with a big fireplace,” wrote owner Michael Lennox in an email to V.I.P.s. “What you may not know is that we have also quietly been building out a very special, hidden cocktail bar inside of Ladybird called Ranger Station as part of this project.”

Half the space mentioned is Ranger Station—the rest is bathrooms, back-of-house area, and extra Ladybird dining. To get to Ranger Station, guests will eventually be able to enter through an exterior staircase (currently under construction) or an interior staircase hidden by a bookshelf door. Supply chain issues have delayed the bookshelf’s installation, so guests will have to use their imaginations for now.

“If Ladybird has always been a National Park-inspired ‘rest stop’ along the Eastside Trail, it left me asking the question of where the park rangers might go after hours, after a long day out in the wilderness,” writes Lennox, who also owns taco and coffee shop Muchacho. “Then I started imagining: what if there was a hidden attic bar at the rangers’ hideout where they could go to spin a few good records, knock back some strong cocktails, maybe play a few rounds of poker, and generally let loose in the company of their own?”

A rendering of the bar at Ranger Station

Courtesy of Blur Architecture

He describes Ranger Station, as a “much smaller and a more concentrated version of Ladybird.”

“It’s as if we took the Golden Eagle cocktail program and put that in a space that was hidden inside Ladybird and built an experience around it,” he says.

Electric Hospitality beverage director Timothy Parker (formerly Golden Eagle bar manager) designed the cocktail program, featuring 12 handcrafted drinks each with a lengthy imaginative description. Take “Truth or Consequences,” for example. It’s comprised of Blanco tequila, pineapple, lime, cinnamon, mint, and jalapeño. However, the description reads: “In the small, mystical town of Truth or Consequences—formerly known as Hot Springs—natural geothermal mineral baths often catalyze meditation and reinvention. Mexican verdita supplies an herbal and picante complexity in the drink named for that New Mexico town. Satisfy the need for a spicy winter tequila drink with this hot springs soak for the tastebuds.”

A small selection of beer and wine is available, too. The food is intended to support the cocktails and extend the experience, Lennox says. Options include chicken-fried quail, smoked pork belly, and carrot salad. “It’s more refined but not tweezers or avant-garde or anything,” he says. There is no crossover between Ladybird’s and Ranger Station’s menus.

Ranger Station soft opens on December 9 and officially opens to the public on December 16. With only 65 seats, including the bar, reservations are recommended. Expect a lot of vinyl playing on a vintage sound system.