Who To Take: Someone who appreciates the ultimate in the art of mixology or to really wow a date
To kick-off my birthday in proper style I couldn’t think of a better place in NYC to sample cocktails than The Aviary. Using Grant Aschaz and co-owner Nick Kokonas’ philosophies from the original in Chicago, this spot mixes science, theater, gadgetry, and attentive service to really pull out all the stops in their delivery. First off, the location is prime, with great views over Columbus Circle and beyond. The lounge has a sleek, dark, zen design outfitted with sofas and coffee tables for low-key socializing. We were happy to get a seat right next to the window, but I would say anywhere in the space would feel comfortable and offer up a view of the skyline.
Now to the cocktails. We started off with two classic-with-a-twist numbers from the 1 & 1 category, which both incorporated the ice into the cocktail flavoring strategy. The twist on the classic Gin and Tonic: it’s arrival as a tall, bright-green leaning tower with the addition of chartreuse, almond, green apple and cucumber. The cucumber was frozen onto the sides of the vessel to add flavor as it melts. Mmmm, quite refreshing. I chose to start with a Mimosa whose twist was that the ice cubes were made out of Harvey Wallbanger cocktail—adding vodka, OJ, and Galliano flavors as it melted down. Love this idea of melding two drinks into one. The Zombie Panda had the cutest round raspberry ice cubes that melted into pisco, lychee, and lemon for a fresh fruity mix, almost like a not-too-sweet adult ice pop.
The night was just getting started—with the idea of infusion taking over. What arrived next on the scene is a device made famous by Aviary in Chicago. Called the Porthole Infuser, it takes fresh ingredients and permeates the flavors into the cocktail. In this case Lovely Bunch had french curry, ancho, chai, reposado, banana, and blood orange. Each bit poured gets more intense as time goes on, making for a different experience with each round. (Once you try this cocktail you will want to purchase one of these guys to infuse your own cocktails, oils, teas, dressings, etc. Get it here).
Even though this should have been enough, we did try one more cocktail which prompted a second device. Beam Me Up Toddy featured an open flame in which the base cocktail was heated, then shot into the top of the gadget with fresh ingredients—cranberry, brown butter, pear, and fresh herbs—then worked its way back down into the pot for pouring. A wonderful treat on a chilly night.
We did get one bite of food here, the Black Truffle Explosion, which did, indeed, explode in the mouth, and was so good we had to get another round. (To follow this grand experience and continue the birthday celebration, we headed a few block east to Bill’s Townhouse. Read about our dinner here).
This was truly a special experience which only whet my appetite to get into The Office, a speakeasy version of experimental cocktails styled in a more traditional, quirky environment, associated and located right next door. Luckily, Aidan Bowie, who I met at Dandelyon in London, was now behind the bar here, and offered to share a few of his cocktails. (see the recipes with this post)
The Dealer’s Choice was the ultimate in froth-iness, in a pretty light green color and vintage glass that could liven up any party scene. The micro herbs sitting atop make an artistic, natural statement. And if you are an Old Fashioned afficianado, the addition of banana liqueur and miso could be a nice way to end the night in a sweet and sultry way.
What’s best about The Office is that they are positioned for spontaneity and bespoke concoctions, meant to accommodate guests’ preferences. Say no more! And for those who aim to taste only the rarest spirits, their collection includes thosed priced at $500 an ounce. Ouch! What I love is the attention to detail, like the branding of an oversized ice cube with The Office logo and the personable service you will experience.
The Aviary and The Office, 80 Columbus Cir (Broadway & 59th St), enter on 60th Street and take the elevator up to 35, or take escalators up through the mall, and get the elevator on the 3rd floor to 35th floor