Every person who lives in a city has their favorites list. Favorite dive bar, favorite mixed drink place, favorite best kept secret (and I promise, I will have an entire post on Chicago’s best kept secret Watershed). But what most people who live in cities don’t have is Grant Achatz, a 3 star Michelin chef opening a lounge.
The Aviary is doing things with cocktails that no one else has ever imagined. To start, they have an ice chef, someone who dedicates their entire job to making the 32 (that is not a type-o) different types of ice, that the restaurant has. My husband and I were fortunate enough to get invited down to meet the ice chef in his kitchen. You would imagine that working with ice all day and night, the space would be cold? You would imagine wrong. It’s hot as hell in a tiny room that is about 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. In this space he makes everything from the ice cylinders for the In The Rocks (made from freezing water inside balloons and then using a syringe to take out the water inside and inject the drink….see photo below), to the tiny balls of celery ice that are found in the deconstructed Bloody Mary.
Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “Other than the ‘Wow’ factor, the ice just sits there. So what?” And I’ll tell you what! The chefs (they are not bartenders, they are not mixologists, and they are chefs) said that their biggest complaint while drinking is that the ice actually dilutes the drink. If you sit and speak with friends, your drink gets watered down and doesn’t taste good. So their idea? Have drinks that grow and change with time. The ice enhances the drinks because they impart different types of flavor. The vanilla ice slowly melts in the Cream Soda (photograph below) and as your drink, the taste if vanilla grows stronger.
So not only are they doing awesome things with ice, but they’re also doing great things with flavor. The Cider is inside a beautiful glass sphere. It comes out looking like a work of art, and as the drink sits, the flavors of apples, and cinnamon and cloves grow more intense. The transformation from your first sip to your last is unbelievable.
And any good lounge would serve up bites. The bites at Aviary are impeccable. Whenever we have gone, we’ve asked our waiter or waitress to have the chefs pair whatever bites they think will go best with our drinks, and we’ve never been sad. From the world’s best tater tot to waygu, the bites are out of this world.
The Aviary isn’t a bar you just go to in order to grab a quick drink, although we have seen people come in for only one drink and leave. There can be a line, however they do take reservations. I however recommend committing an evening there. Sit in the comfy chairs, enjoy the atmosphere, drink some amazing drinks and eat some fabulous bites. And if you’re lucky, the manager will walk over to your table and say “Hey, I have a great idea….” and all of a sudden, you find yourself whisked downstairs to the invite only Speakeasy known as The Office…
The Bloody Mary
In the Rocks, creation
The Cream Soda with Stout Bites
The Cider with Waygu Bites