The Other Critics

Sula Releases First Review of The Aviary

The $19 Blueberry from The Aviary
The $19 Blueberry from The Aviary Photo: Nick Kindelsperger

Remember when Grant Achatz wanted bars to be reviewed by major critics? Well, he got his wish today as Mike Sula published his take on The Aviary. While most of the drinks “skew toward a sweeter palate,” Sula thinks that “in general they’re well balanced and delicious.” In fact, he admits that the “$28 Truffle may be the finest negroni I’ve ever drunk.” So, why does he write that drinking at The Aviary can be “frustrating for the average cocktail geek?”

The trouble seems to be that the makers of the drinks aren’t interacting with the guests. He claims that most mixologists are well versed in the craft creating drinks and the “art of personal engagement,” while the chefs here make the drinks in a “theatrically lit birdcage at the back of the room.” That means the servers have to talk about the drinks, but they have “little time to stand around and shoot the shit about them—or about much of anything else.”

For him, it is “much closer to Alinea than it is to the Violet Hour, the Drawing Room, Sable, or the Whistler.” He understands how some people may find the whole experience “chilly, impersonal, and even a little sad.” Still, Sula seems to think that it’s best to sit back and just enjoy “The Experience of Being Here, by Grant Achatz,” which “could become one of those rare but essential activities that, along with a game at Wrigley, a trip up the Willis Tower—or dinner at Alinea—are defining Chicago experiences.”

So, it’s not exactly a perfect review, but he still seems to think that one should visit. That said, he didn’t have many nice things to say about the food. He actually wishes that “Claudio the Tamale Guy” would “add the Aviary to his route,” as the “bites” are “just tiny enough to make you hungrier.”

The Aviary: Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s latest project takes cocktails to the next level [Chicago Reader]

Sula Releases First Review of The Aviary