If you live in Chicago, you’ve heard the words, Alinea, Next, and The Aviary. Due to my love of food and the amazing reviews, I hope to dine at Alinea or Next very soon. It isn’t necessarily the price of the meal, but how impossible it is to get in. My waiting patiently for a chance to eat somewhere waned after living in New York and calling Babbo for 6 hours for two days to get a reservation for my husband’s birthday. We did get in, but started our meal at 11:30pm, yes, 11:30pm.
Grant Achatz and the Alinea crew have created a lounge that serves you drinks that look like artwork. I loved the atmosphere, service, and the creativity of the drinks. Numerous articles have come out with pictures and details of the drinks, but here’s some advice on how to enjoy your next drink at Aviary:
- When: Go to the Aviary on a Wednesday or Thursday night. We went on a Wednesday night and only waited a couple of minutes. The bar has 70 seats plus a standing lounge near the cocktail kitchen, expect to wait on Friday and Saturday nights as the drink experience is what the place is about.
- What to expect: Service is impeccable, the wait staff gave detailed descriptions of each drink we were interested in and when the drinks appeared, each was interesting, pretty and delicious. It is a drink experience, our group of 4 only had 1 drink and we were probably there for over an hour. The menu has levels of complexity for each drink detailed by the length of lines marked by birds.
- What to wear: I would recommend not wearing jeans, but I find Chicago pretty casual so if you are, it isn’t a deterrent from getting in. A summer dress would be appropriate and it’s a great place to go with a date or significant other.
- What I didn’t love: I had high expectations for their little bites, we ordered the chowder, crab, and pork belly. We had dinner before we arrived at The Aviary, but we wanted to taste what everyone had been raving about. The bites were ok, I’ll try them again hoping my first experience will be erased, but for $3 to $5 a bite, I expected a lot more.
- What you will pay: For four drinks and 6 bites total, we spent a total of $120. For the atmosphere and drink experience, I felt that it was worth it.
If you are visiting Chicago, live in or near Chicago, I definitely think it’s worth the visit.
Blueberry, verjus, sweet vermouth, rye, it was complex, tasty and beautiful to look at.
In the Rocks, demerar, angostura, bourbon
Pineapple, mint, sanbitter, chartreuse, refreshing and delicious
The Aviary, 955 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Cranberry, passion fruit, orange, rums – $17
Popcorn, butter, crème fraiche, rum – $15
Coffee, ristretto, milk, rum – $15
Pineapple, mint, sanbitter, chartreuse – $16
Hot Chocolate, Ecuadorian chocolate, fernet, tequila – $15
Ginger, peychaud’s, shiso, fingerlime, – vodka $17
Daiquiri, sugar cane, lime, rum – $12
Banana, lemon, mint, new make – $16
Tiki, macadamia, cinnamon, batavia – $17
Blueberry, verjus, sweet vermouth, rye – $19
Martinez maraschino, sweet vermouth, gin, – $14
Lemon, carbonated, gin – $16
Sazerac, demerara, peychaud’s, rye – $14
El Diablo, creme de cassis, ginger beer, tequila – $15
In the Rocks, demerara, angostura, bourbon – $18
Sassafras, vanilla, anise, kirsch – $18
Rooibos, verbena, almond, vanilla, gin – $18
Sidecar, cointreau, lemon, brandy – $14
Scots Pine, yuzu, elderflower, tequila – $17
Truffle, campari, sweet vermouth, gin – $28
Martini, aged, vermouth, gin – $18
Cantaloupe, prosciutto, basil, champagne – $3
Lobster, cracker, comte, grape – $5
Chowder, croquette, clam, spicy corn pudding – $3
Crab, tempura, tomato, pickle – $4
Pork Belly, coconut, curry, iceberg – $4
Potato, custard, malt vinegar chips, chive – $3
Wagyu, smoked paprika, pumpkin seed, yogurt – $6
Foie Gras, rhubarb, pumpernickel, lavender – $5
Cheesecake, strawberry, balsamic, graham cracker – $3
Brioche, chocolate, smoked salt, vanilla – $4
If you have visited the Aviary yourself, what do you think?
Can't wait to go after I have these babies 🙂 Thanks for the info!
If you ever get a reservation to Alinea, it's an experience of a lifetime. I was lucky enough to dine there twice in 2009 before they blew up to a 3-star Michelin. Advice: The books open at the first of the month for the following two months. So on June 1, you can book a reservation for August 1. You may want to call just in case it has changed. Wed and Thursday are your luckiest days and follow Chef Achatz on Twitter. Sometimes he offers seats when someone cancels. Good luck!