During my extensive cocktail career; I’ve sampled drinks I’ve loved, loathed and guzzled so fast I didn’t even taste. (college)
But nothing comes close to what I sampled this weekend at Aviary.
I’m someone who gets very uncomfortable in fine dining restaurants so I was a bit on edge at the thought of going to a preview of Grant Achatz’s new cocktail lounge. If I can’t laugh loudly I don’t want to be there.
Ryan was invited because- he’s good friends with the owner Nick Kokonas and has employed most of the staff at some point- and he took a gamble on me as his plus one.
From the second we entered the beautiful white room- I felt at ease. In one corner sat a table of my girlfriends who were laughing and chatting away. Across the room- other 30 something groups of friends were also enjoying rounds of cocktails and conversation.
Our table for two was bathed in perfect lighting (a must on any date) and the music was just loud enough to create a cool and non distracting ambiance.
Nick sat with us and explained some of the classic and creative cocktails- I took him up on sampling the “Ginger” and “Cranberry”.
The Ginger was served in three parts- a glass with a perfect slope of crushed ginger ice that was speckled with green and red berries and leaves. This was presented with the ginger concoction and a swizzle stick made from lemon grass. I was instructed to pour the liquid over the ice and act as though I was “starting a fire” with the lemon grass.
The combo of fun and flavor caused us to laugh and realize this place didn’t take it’s self too seriously.
We also sampled a drink served “forty-style” and a layered version of a Hurricane.
Ryan wouldn’t let me take photos- out of courtesy to other diners but luckily my friend Nicole Tempesta snagged a shot of “The Blueberry”- something so complex that attempting to explain it wouldn’t do it justice.
This is a place I’ll return with out of town friends and as often as possible and I recommend you do the same- if we can get a reservation.