The Aviary - NYC
The Aviary - Cocktail Lounge
80 Columbus Cir, New York, NY
Visited On: 12/2/2018
Colombus Circle is a hustling and bustling intersection on the lower west side of Manhattan that is famous for horse carriages, gigantic skyscrapers like CNN’s HQ, and many hotels. We visited the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to check out the newest location of Chicago’s infamous Aviary, the child of three-Michelin-starred Alinea duo chef Grant Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas.
All the way up on the 35th floor, we got a table right by one of their many enormous windows, it felt like we were a society that lives in the clouds. The weather that day was crazy foggy so don’t expect any NYC skyline views, but somehow it was a certain kind of haunting beauty.
Eater NYC compared their menu to wizardry so you know we had to check it out. They’ve been open for about a year and the menu never stays the same, but the concept does. There is a prefix option that allows you to pair your courses with the cocktails, or you could opt out and just order some appetizers with the individual cocktails. We went for the prefix because, well, more food.
The HHC Team Sipped On:
Mariana started with the Mimosa, which is served with actual champagne, so that was enough reason to cause excitement. However, it’s not as basic as you might think, it comes with a Harvey Wallanbanger ice cube (frozen OJ and vodka), so you’re drinking a screwdriver inside a Mimosa.
M: It’s delicious, honestly I don’t usually do vodka like at all, but this has me feeling buzzy in the best ways. The ice melts and you still have a cocktail! That’s revolutionary for me. The vodka is vanilla flavored too so the taste and sweetness changes from acidic citrus to a soft vanilla and it is straight up magical.
Alex went for what seemed to be a simple, classic drink- Gin and Tonic. The ingredients on the menu did boast other unique ingredients including Chartreuse, almond, green apple, and cucumber. When it arrived at the table we realized it was not simple at all. The cucumber was actually a cucumber infused ice block with the remaining ingredients swimming around it like an island.
A: First of all it’s huge, which is really freaking awesome. The glass reflects the talent in the back, they are more than bartenders, mixologists, or any other titles in the industry- they are scientists. The drink itself is refreshing and you can tell they juiced very good cucumbers as it is the dominant flavor. Hints of the Chartreuse shine through, stronger than the gin, but I dig it. Once the ice melts it does go overboard on the cucumber side but once again that’s how you know it’s fresh. I love it.
Ivana went for another classic, Michalada. According to our waiter, it was spelled differently to honor the person who created it. The ingredients on the menu were everything but classic or traditional. The Aviary makes it with soy, coriander, Japanese whisky, and something called “evil twin.” Which sounded even more dangerous than the Mimosa.
I: It’s...interesting. I mean it’s kind of nothing like a traditional Michelada. It’s a great cocktail with spices that blend well together, the whisky is excellent, smooth and not too potent. The rim ties it all together and that’s the only part that’s truly reminiscent of a michelada. If this is a michelada’s “evil twin” she’s much older and a badass.
Having received extravagant versions of very simple but traditional drinks, we were curious about the real show stoppers. So for the second round the Happy Hour City team ordered two more cocktails.
Mariana went for the Boom Goes The Dynamite. A rum-based cocktail that included rooibos, vanilla, violet, and ver jus. It came in another chemistry like glassware and it fit the name thanks to the addition of dry ice spewing from the mouth. The smoke let off the scents of all the ingredients creating a cloud of vanilla and grape smells that could hypnotize anybody within inches of our table.
M: After the dry ice finished, the remaining liquid seemed like too little to drink, but I am happily mistaken. It’s a hot cocktail, which is perfect for the weather, so it’s also very strong. The rum is now more present than just the vanilla and violet and I love it. It’s like a grape flavored tea that was spiked with the good stuff. Very happy I chose it, I am feeling all kinds of warm inside.
Alex opted for the tiki drink, unfortunately, we were so consumed by the show that we forgot the name of the drink and it is no longer part of their menu. But we did get you some video and photos of just how absolutely crazy it was. The two cup drink comes with more dry ice on the top and on the lower level cup something they called, “snow.” You pour the spiked milk into the snow and that’s your cocktail. The video will explain better…
A: It’s certainly creamy but with the texture of the “snow” it adds a nice crunch, not too crunchy, but present enough to make the statement. As far as the size it doesn’t look like there is much but like Mariana’s drink, it is rather potent. A bit too sweet for my taste but definitely a good dessert cocktail to accompany the ice cream sandwiches we got.
As for the food, since it is rotating, we will skip out on the thoughts and let you know it was all very delicious, attentive to every detail, and actually filling.
We had the pleasure of being treated to a tour of the speakeasy of the Aviary, The Office. Which pays homage to cocktails and spirits of the past just behind the kitchen of the Aviary.
In this incredible journey, we saw spirits and liqueurs that predated the 60’s. Since the staff at the Aviary was kind enough to give us the tour, we’ll let them do the talking by sharing this video we saved from when we went live on Instagram during our visit. Enjoy.
We’d like to thank everyone at the Mandarin Oriental and The Aviary for hosting us and giving us the tour of one of the most beautiful lounges and speakeasy we have ever seen (and for rescuing Mariana’s purse!)
To view The Aviary’s current menu check out this link.
As for the city of New York, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Until next time, thanks for reading and as always…