Neighborhood: West Loop
It has been a long four years since I last imbibed the impeccable cocktails and sumptuous snacks of Aviary, but I returned on yet another cold night (this time in March). Fortunately, there was barely a line and only a ten minute wait with a reservation and no waiting in the cold!
Since I last went to Aviary, the price of the three-drink prix-fixe has gone up – with inflation and all to $75/person, which makes sense at a posh cocktail spot that charges about $25 per cocktail. Aviary still offers a five cocktail experience but I think I would be in the hospital from alcohol poisoning if I did that since three feels like too much for my lightweight self.
The interior and ambience were very similar to the last time – serious, but with a non-stuffy vibe for people of all ages and black walls (so goth). Our server was also super helpful and very conscious as there were allergies in the group. Check out my rundown of the wonderful cocktails we imbibed.
What we tried
- Gumshop Fizz
- Three Blind Rice
- Do You Have to Let it Linger
- Ferrands with Benefits
- Wakame Forever
- Steeped in History
- Truffle Explosion
- Truffle Popcorn
- Ricotta and Focaccia
The Drink Details
Three Blind Rice
This was the first cocktail I ordered and it was incredibly unique. I picked it for the miso, shochu, and rice beer. It was described as “savory and tart” on the menu and I love my savory drinks. But I did feel like I tasted more of the green apple brandy than the miso. It was still a great cocktail but not as savory as I hoped and more tart than I prefer. I liked the bubbly rice beer consistency of it all. There was a popsicle in the middle of it too and since we were at a fancy place, I let it melt into the drink because I didn’t want any of it to drip on my clothes.
Ferrands with Benefits
I loved the presentation of this drink as it was served in a delicately adorned teapot with liquid ice oozing out of it. It was a blend of rooibos, cognac, strawberry, banana, and apple and stayed true to the menu description of it being “tropical and aromatic”. I adore the taste of rooibos and rooibos mixed with cognac is incredible. It did feel like a boozy drink though and I felt like I had enough booze after this one.
Steeped in History
This was by far my favorite cocktail of the night flavor-wise. It didn’t have a big presentation but the smoky and bitter flavors were super satisfying for me in this prolific cocktail. There was barrel smoke, vermouth, amaro, and apple which were all very well-balanced. It was also quite aromatic but this cocktail is quite strong. I absolutely loved the smokiness though and would recommend just getting this cocktail if you’re not a big drinker but love smokey, bitter flavors like myself.
One has to absorb these precious cocktails with some food so we indulged in truffle flavored snacks and dreamy bread. We started off with the Black Truffle Explosion, which is basically a large bite of ravioli bursting with truffle that will take you to another realm. It was $19 for one bite though so you can’t share it with others, which is a little annoying. It’s worth it though for the sacred, orgasmic truffle explosion in your mouth.
Unlike the Truffle Explosion, we did get more than one bite from the Truffle Popcorn and it was exactly what you think it would taste like with a name like Truffle Popcorn. The popcorn was lightly coated in truffle oil and bursting with truffle flavor. Popcorn lovers will be very satisfied!
For something a bit heartier and even more shareable, the Focaccia is quite delicious. Their housemade focaccia was perfectly soft, fresh, and was an ideal surface for their creamy ricotta cheese. The ricotta had some fresh herbs and a generous serving of savory olive oil and certainly helped balance out the boozy cocktails.
Still worth the hype? Yes!
Aviary is still that iconic Chicago cocktail spot that you must experience at least once. It still feels as special your second time around given how they change their cocktails and food so you won’t ever get “tired” of what they have to offer. I think it’s perfect for a date night or a celebration with loved ones.