Cocktails from The Aviary

The coffee table book "The Aviary" gives techniques and recipes for cocktails from the upscale bar/restaurant of the same name in Chicago.  Here are the collected experiments from that book.

As an exmormon, I started drinking later in life.  This means I skipped the skunky beer stage of drinking, and yet I still have an unrefined palate when it comes to distilled spirits.  I've tried a few cocktails, but I can't say I have a favorite.  Nor do I even know where to begin.  My friend got me this book for Christmas with precisely this goal in mind: be inspired to try old standards, stock a bar through experience, and find a new favorite that I can make.

If you have not seen the book, do yourself a favor and track it down.  Luscious pictures of extravagant cocktails are a feast for the eyes.  But what really caught me was the hacker ethos evident in the kitchen.  Over and over again, they use a standard kitchen device in non-standard ways.  Infusions are sent into overdrive with a sous vide, melting ice transforms drinks as you sip them, and lab equipment is repurposed to make the clearest of syrups.  It is nice for a non-gourmand such as myself to see how a commercial kitchen pulls off these feats on the regular.  It also feeds into the central thesis of the book: complex cocktails are possible at scale with the right tools and preparation.

There is one problem.  Not many non-commercial kitchens can afford a pacojet, juicer, and dehydrator just for their bar.  This is where a little creativity goes a long way.  With each recipe, I have to obtain a suitable replacement for the recommended gear.  If I can't DIY my way there, I must scour thrift shops like Goodwill for the closest approximations I can find.  There is, in all likelihood, more than one way to skin this cat.  Sometimes there is no substitute for a glass ship in a bottle decanter or a custom branding iron for your doug fir coasters, but the important parts, the tools and ingredients, don't have to cost an arm and a leg.

I hope you are inspired to join me and make a few fancy cocktails of your own.

The Drinks So Far:

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