Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicago: The Aviary

Grant Achatz is a genius.

Who is he? He is the man behind Alinea, ranked as the #6 restaurant in the WORLD, known for molecular gastronomy. He won the several James Beard Award and a few years ago for Best Chef in the US. Essentially, he is a chef that knows how to manipulate food with science and is damn good at it.

Recently, he started up The Aviary, which is his newest project, focusing on cocktails. However they are not just normal drinks that you would find at a lounge. He does the same thing to drinks as he does with food, find ways to innovate and provides a great experience to the guests.

The Aviary
953-955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Neighborhoods: Fulton Market, Near West Side, West Loop

Came here around 40 minutes before it was last call. Don't really know how we found the place since there is no signs outside at all. The neighborhood looked kinda sketch (lots of food warehouse), and we were totally confused until we saw a valet guy outside and pointed us to the right direction.

drinks station
The cage where the masters go to work.

Modern decor in The Aviary.

Beautifully designed space.

amuse bouche
Amuse bouche: watermelon soaked in sake. Tasty!

watermelon soaked with sake
Very refreshing. Would've ordered more food but I was way too full haha.

part of menu
Drinks menu. The longer the line on the left means the more complicated it is. Of course we tried to choose the ones with the longest lines :P

Ahrhan's Rooibos. Ever had a hot alcoholic drink? Generally most people would say no but here, if you get the Rooibos, it is brewed like a tea with a vacuum pot. Lavender, almond, vanilla, and gin sit in a compartment above the vacuum pot and once heated, the heat sucks the boiled water up a glass tube and then boils the drink!

vac pot
After it is done "brewing," the finished drinks travel back down to the pot after the heat is removed. Seems sorta odd to drink a warm alcoholic drink but it's good!

Anna's Blueberry, which is fruits, verjus, sweet vermouth, and rye. The longer you let it sit in that device, the stronger the flavors become, sorta like an alcoholic version of the fruit tea you get at HK cafes :P

The drink itself gets darker and darker after each pour.

in the rock
In the Rocks,which is your traditional Old Fashioned, but with a twist. The twist isn't in the flavor or the alcohol used, rather, it is in the way the drink is made. An ice egg in a whiskey glass was put in front of me, but upon closer inspection you can see that there's something inside the ice egg, and you realize that the bourbon, demerara, and angostura are actually in the ice egg itself and that's why it's called "In the Rocks!"

Check out this video on how it is done!

old fashioned
Our server proceded to break the egg into slices, the alcohol flows out , add a peel of orange and there's the Old Fashioned. Somehow the man has came up with an innovative way to serve Old Fashioned.

Ben's Rhubarb, served in a tall glass, but the cool part is that it is served with little round ice cubes filled with a sweet liquor (maybe wine?) to help sweeten your drink as needed.

ice cubes
The server also brought a few on the side and we just started to eating it like candy haha.

The drinks are all tasty but nothing that will really justify the high price. The least expensive drink is the Hemingway and even that runs at $14. It's all about experiencing the world of cocktail, Grant Achatz style.

After The Aivary, I want to try Alinea even more... I guess it's time to save up around $500 or so :P