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Drink This Moulin Rouge-Themed Latte
Bird and Branch offers the drink, as well as jobs for 'people who have traditionally found it difficult to find employment'
Moulin Rouge superfans and coffee lovers alike are sure to find common ground with this drink, especially when it comes from a coffee shop that provides job training for those who’ve had a tough time finding work.
Inspired by Broadway megahit, the Mocha Choco Latte is available at Bird and Branch, a little coffee shop just down the street from the Al Hirshfeld theater, where the show is playing (359 W 45th St, New York, NY; 917-265-8444; birdandbranch.com).
Husband and wife Brandon and Faith Lee opened the bird-themed coffee house with two missions: to make good coffee and to help make New York a better place by providing job and soft skill training to people who have traditionally found it difficult to find employment. “That was our original reason for opening the shop,” says Brandon.
When Moulin Rouge moved into the Al Hirshfeld theater — long before it swept the 2021 Tony Awards with ten wins including Best Musical for the 2019-2020 season — Brandon and Faith found themselves forging a bond with cast and crew who would stop at the little shop for a caffeine pick-me-up. “We had a pretty good relationship with them since they opened down the block,” says Brandon.
But when the lights of Broadway dimmed during the pandemic, so did Bird and Branch’s business. With no tourists to feed, they instead prepared breakfasts and care packages to deliver to hospitals and nursing homes (even now, they continue to run a program called “give Covid the bird” where people can donate $5 which covers the cost of a coffee and a small meal for a New Yorker in need). Keeping busy, the couple also welcomed a baby during the pandemic.
Even though Moulin Rouge was on hiatus, Brandon said the producers of the show remained in contact. Finally, when Moulin Rouge announced a reopening date, the Bird and Branch team were approached by the show producers: Would they make a special Moulin Rouge-themed coffee drink?
Brandon said this was the first time a show had ever approached them about making a drink. After thinking about it for a long time, the coffee maven said he could have gone one of two ways — either make a green drink after the Green Fairy that Christian famously sees after a night of binging on absinthe — or a decadent scarlet-hued beverage: the Mocha Choco Latte, named after the opening song that incorporates “Lady Marmalade” into its medley.
The drink starts with a classic cappuccino made with single-origin beans. Homemade chocolate and cherry vanilla syrups are added to the milk, which gives it a pink hue. Then it’s dusted with freeze-dried cherry dust. The Mocha Choco Latte costs $6 and is available at the New York City shop.
If you can’t get to New York, Bird and Branch sells coffee, baked goods, and merch on its website.
There are benefits to visiting the shop in person: According to Brandon, you might just be sipping your coffee next to one of the stars of the show. Aaron Tveit, who won a Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical comes in often, and though Karen Olivo has gone on from her role as Satine, she still frequents Bird and Branch.