Anyway, Grant Achatz is a mad man. If not a mad man, at least a mad scientist. If not a mad scientist, he's at least the Beethoven of his field.
"Jesus Can't Hit a
serrano and poblano
ice. Had to order it
for the name, alone.
(And if you get the
reference, we should
"Ain't Nobody Got Lime
for That": lavender,
brandy, green apple
(Someone should turn
those words into a
Unfortunately, this isn't a blog post about Alinea. Haven't gotten into that restaurant, yet! (I did do Next -- his other restaurant -- once, though. Good stuff, although the particular dinner I went to didn't really showcase his talents because it wasn't a typical dinner.)
But this blog post is about something equally creative: His restaurant group (not-so-creatively titled the Alinea Restaurant Group) owns a cocktail joint adjacent to (and sharing a bathroom with) Next. The concept in their words:
Where cocktails and service are given the same attention to detail as a four-star restaurant; where bartenders are trained as chefs; where the produce and herbs are carefully sourced and procured fresh daily; where the name and branding of the spirit mixed is less important than its actual flavor; where drinks are made quickly and consistently in a state-of-the-art drink kitchen; where innovation and tradition are both honored. - www.exploretock.com/theaviary/
|"Jungle Bird": pineapple,|
Campari, layered rums.
(I'm starting to feel a
Fig, black pepper,
Here's the deal: You decide when you make the reservation how boozy you're going to get. Depending on your selection, they slot you in certain time slots. (Presumably, the more drinks you get, you're gonna slow down in a non-linear fashion. Options include the 3-course cocktail progression, 5-course cocktail tasting menu with prepared food (you can also order food with 3 if you want but it's not built into the cost), and 7-course kitchen table experience, presented inside the Aviary's kitchen. May God have mercy on your soul if you bring your 92-lb anyone to a 5- or 7-cocktail tasting. At the 3-cocktail progression, my head might stop throbbing by next Tuesday.)
|"Crispy Pork Skin": Salt and vinegar. (Had to eat something!)|
|Tempura shrimp: Togarashi-spiced|
aioli, yuzu-pickled nashi pear.
(If I had thought this post through
better, I should have taken this
photo in landscape.)
"Feather Knows Best":
Barrel smoke, sherry,
(¿Dónde están mis
(I can't feel my
Things also progress, throughout the night. The top two cocktails, "Jesus Can't Hit a Curveball" and "Ain't Nobody Got Lime for That", feature fruit-forward flavors (and apparently a lot of alliteration). You can choose from a long list of fruit-forward cocktails; these were mainly chosen for their names. The second ones got a little stronger and more predominantly feature alcohol. The third category, heavier, smokier drinks usually featuring whiskies.
Well, my lightweight cousin was out for this round, so I had her whole glass. Having had half of each of her previous two drinks, this put me at five double-shot drinks by this point in the night, so I was definitely doing pretty good by this point last night.
|A5 wagyu: tofu misozuke, yuzu kosho mustard.|
(¡Muy delicioso! Why am I speaking Spanish now?)
"Carrot cake Ramos
rum fizz": rooibos,
cream cheese, black
walnut, spices. AKA
"carrot cake in a glass".
Turned out, this was a pretty far departure from the original: first, it's a rum fizz, rather than a gin fizz, so it's pretty much an international flight from the original. The original has half-and-half in it, this one, cream cheese. Whoa. Quite frankly, this was basically carrot cake in a glass. Use your own sense of right and wrong in the world to decide for yourself if you'd like it.
All in all, a terrific evening. There's nothing stuffy about this place, save for the amount of money you pay to do this. And I'm really glad I came.
Now, where are my pantalones?