Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas' cocktail venture in Chicago, The Aviary, is an experience: From the setting and the cocktails to the service and the food, no detail is overlooked at this “redefined” cocktail bar. Even the ice that is used to craft the cocktails is elevated to high art. The place churns out more than 25 types of ice, from minuscule ice balls to flavored spheres to enormous blocks for hand-chipped ice. It’s safe to say an evening spent here is unlike any other.
Reservations are booked through Tock and come in four varieties: as a deposit that goes toward your à la carte drinks-and-bites bill, a three-course cocktail progression, a five-course cocktail tasting menu with food pairings, or a seven-course kitchen table experience presented by the chefs. While the cocktails and food change frequently, The Daily Meal has enjoyed Ain’t Nobody Got Lime for That (lavender, vermouth, mango brandy, and green apple), Jab and Right Cross (Seville orange, meringue, Jamaican rum, and cherry brandy), and Jesus Can’t Hit a Curveball (Serrano, Chareau, celery, Chartreuse, and gin). Culinary highlights include the Black Truffle Explosion, a solitary black truffle pillow with Parmesan and romaine; the massive crispy pork skin; and the ice cream sandwich with cream cheese frosting ice cream between two Funfetti cookies.