Date Night: Drinks at The Aviary

Last month, Liz and I started to make a more concerted effort to go out on a “date night.” Once a month, we’d pick a place and make it a point to just go and hang out with one another.

Previously, we went to go see Gregory Alan Isakov for our first date night. And on Sunday, we decided to go to The Aviary for some drinks. Or, to be more precise, for some fancy, spectacular drinks.

I made the mistake of booking “The Office,” which was more of a speakeasy bar located below the Aviary proper. After getting seated and discovering the differences between the two locations, we asked if we could go upstairs – and were given a spot really quickly and easily.

I think it helped that we were there at 6PM on a Sunday, but still – the staff was incredibly kind and accommodating.

Shortly after we were seated, we were given two small drinks as a starter (I think the server called them “slushees”). Additionally there was another server walking around offering select appetizers (this was a dehydrated bacon that was pretty delicious).

We learned that this was something that had originally been offered at Alinea, so we felt like we definitely wanted to get a taste. Liz liked it so much, we asked for another about an hour later.

A bit later, we were offered another small option: oysters. Liz declined, but I decided to get one.

The same server kept circling all the tables, each time offering up something new. It reminded me very much of a dim sum cart.

I forget now exactly what was on here (I vaguely recall strawberry powder on top of the foam). It was bright and crisp, and a bit more fruity than I think I would have liked. I enjoyed it, but it made me realize how much I equate oysters with something more savory.

Our frist drinks of the night. Liz got the Carrot Cake Ramos Rum Fizz (rooibos, cream cheese, black walnut, typical spices). I can’t recall now the name of the drink I got, but I know it was really very smoky (and incredibly smooth).

Wish I would have snapped a photo of the menu. I remembered to document our drinks, but didn’t realize their menu wasn’t available online.

One of the many appetizers we ordered – the crispy pork skin. We (along with everyone sitting nearby) were really surprised at the sheer size of this thing – totally not what I expected.

It was super delicious, and had a great tang of vinegar with each bite.

We also ordered Mushroom Chips. Liz is not a huge fan of the texture of mushrooms, but these were more along the consistency of Funions. They came with two different sauces, one of which was a Truffle Aioli that was just the most incredible thing.

There is a not insignificant part of me that wants to return here, just so I can have that Truffle Aioli again.

A brief view of the seating area (from where we were sitting).

This was set at our table, and was a kind of introduction to the next drink that Liz got: Loaded to the Gunwalls (mace, pineapple, hazelnut, batavia arrack).

Several minutes later, the server arrived to complete the drink…

with fire!

On the left, Liz‘s drink fully combined. On the right was mine (which came in two different peices).

I got the O’Doyle Rules (fried banana, clarified banana, curry, rum, cognac). I’m not a huge fan of bananas, honestly. But it’s been a while since I’ve had them, and the drink itself kind of scared me. It sounded really unusual, and I decided… what the hey. Worth a shot.

Consuming the left (warm, solid) followed by the right (cold, liquid) was an interesting experience. It wasn’t overly banana-y. It was there, but wasn’t overpowering. The added hint of curry to the mix was surprisingly pleasant.

Another small little appetizer that Liz got. I think this was was a banana tempura, served with a cinnamon stick. I had gotten by fill of banana, but Liz opted for this one.

Looking at it now, there’s a bit of danger involved – as the cinnamon stick itself is lit. To eat this, you’re to grab it by the cinnamon – keeping the burning end away from your mouth (and fingers).

My final drink: Edison Square (warm, pistachio, ancho, caramel, rye, cognac).

The way this drink is brought out is really amazing. It’s bottled up, and then when the server opens the top up… smoke just billows out everywhere. Pretty much everyone else in our immediate area stopped what they were doing and watched.

The drink (and glass) was pretty hot, due to whatever chemical reaction was going on. Once things cooled a bit, I was given a steel straw for the drink.

With the caramel, this was a much sweeter drink – and definitely better for something later on in the evening.

As the couple sitting next to us left, they told us that they were watching our table the whole time… and were in awe at everything we got. It’s funny because Liz and I felt the exact same way about all the other tables (watching all the other drinks that others were trying out).

We got a bit of chocolate, because… well, because chocolate.

On our way out, a view of the area near the front.

Looking in towards the interior. Our seats were just on the other side of this (and had a larger, single semi-circle – as opposed to these more private quarters).

Outside, with Liz. Getting drunk before 8PM on a Sunday, like the senior citizens that we are.

It was a really, tremendously fun time tonight. We both enjoyed the experience of coming to The Aviary – and it really was just a remarkable, singular experience. The whole time we were there, I was wanting to return with more friends.

Folks, the place ain’t cheap. But well worth a visit, and definitely something you’re going to remember and talk about for a really long time. In addition to how delicious the drinks were, the whole experience of the place was a huge part of it.

This was definitely on the far end of our budget for date nights, so I don’t know that we’ll be coming back here anytime soon.

But I want to.

Gregory Alan Isakov @ Thalia Hall
Holiday Cocktails
Drinks at The Promontory
One Year Anniversary Dinner: Blackbird

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