This is the hub for articles about my journey into the world of craft cocktails.

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: