Business course

Review tested and approved: The Aviary Bar, West Loop, Chicago

Chic Chicago bar The Aviary applies the same “fine dining approach” to cocktails that has made Alinea one of the most renowned modernist restaurants in the world. Both are part of the culinary universe created by award-winning chef Grant Achatz. The lounge’s unique drinks, presented in the beautiful collection The Aviary cocktail books— drew eager drinkers to the venue and its sister space, The Office, both located in the city’s West Loop.

Aviary Lounge / Photo: Christian Seel

Located just below The Aviary, The Office is a cozy 22-seat speakeasy that boasts one of the largest collections of rare spirits in the world. There, a single chef, a bartender and a waiter work together to concoct unique cocktails according to your desires and your mood. Upstairs, The Aviary takes creativity to a new level with presentations incorporating molecular gastronomy, personalized serving items and an ever-changing seasonal menu. Attention to detail includes an entire room with an ice cream chef dedicated to creating custom cubes.

The kitchen behind The Aviary’s “birdcage” / Photo: Courtesy of The Aviary

In addition to the à la carte selections, The Aviary has curated several unique experiences. The progression of the three-course cocktail moves from delicate to rich creations, with guests being able to choose from different options. A five-course cocktail tasting menu with small bites of paired dishes, designed by the chef and bar team, provides a shared experience for the whole group. And the seven-course kitchen table experience, served amidst the culinary action, showcases the best The Aviary has to offer, paired appropriately with the food. The most popular drinks this year include the Great Pearing, a misty caramel pu’er tea, a concoction of chanterelle mushrooms, pears, pine nuts and whiskey with yuzu ice cream ready to be licked or bitten. In the Rocks comes in the form of a sphere of ice with the cocktail inside; it is served with a sling positioned on top and the guest learns to open the ice cream. There are several versions: The latest is made with The Glenrothes Whiskey Maker’s Cut, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Amaro Nonino, Campari and Angostura bitters. And we all loved Wicked Ass Pineapple, a creamy cocktail poured over mini spheres of charred pineapple ice cream, which allows temperatures and flavors to become one.