BY MARILYN KITZES
It’s hard to wow New Yorkers, but the Michelin three-starred duo of Grant Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas might have done it with their Chicago import, The Aviary NYC. Perched on the 35th floor of Columbus Circle’s Mandarin Oriental New York, the glamorously mod cocktail lounge is a feast for the senses. Featuring jaw-dropping panoramic views of Central Park and the Midtown skyline—and a wildly creative cocktail and food menu that incorporates sous vide techniques—The Aviary is both laboratory and theater.
“We’re constantly exploring new products and trends with cooking technologies, whether it’s the latest in sous vide immersion circulators or how we can use the centrifuge or rotary evaporator to keep advancing our food and drink programs,” says Executive Chef Dan Perretta.
Cocktails with intriguing and entertaining names like “Bring Another Smurf!”, “How Does Snoop Dogg Use Lemongrass?”, and “Paging Fred Armisen” not only arrive at the table in specialty vessels like lava-lamp–style glass beakers, they come with smoking dry ice and humorous accessories like mini slingshots that crack the ice in your glass. Their signature “Wake and Bake” cocktail, a rye Manhattan served inside an inflated plastic “pillow” pouch, releases the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a toasted Everything bagel for a quintessential New York experience.
Not surprisingly, The Aviary NYC offers an imaginative, all-day menu of Asian-influenced small-plate cuisine. And like some of their cocktail offerings, sous-vide is a go-to technique. Their Miyazaki Wagyu beef with abalone, chimichurri and new potato is sealed and cooked sous-vide for about 20 minutes. It’s then cooled down and seared over White Oak charcoal—easy. But it’s their porcelet that gets a double sous-vide treatment. After first immersing it with duck fat, thyme, garlic and black peppercorns for 10 hours, it’s shredded and reshaped into a rillette, and immersed again at a lower temperature with morel mushrooms and a mousse made of pork, chicken, foie gras and egg white. Other Instagram-worthy items include a giant, two-foot-long crispy pork skin spiced with salt and vinegar and a single-bite, black truffle soup dumpling that explodes in your mouth.
Ready to be entertained? Reservations for The Aviary NYC are arranged online via Tock with a $20 deposit per person—and a variety of tasting menu options are also available. Lights, camera, action!
Lauren Corriveau, of Nitecap in New York City, developed an effervescent riff on red sangria that stars the French aperitif Maurin Quina infused via sous vide with cacao nibs.
Barrel-aged cocktails are huge right now. Colin Carroll, of Portland's Trifecta, takes a clever sous vide shortcut by infusing spirits with charred wood.
Sous vide cocktails know no bounds. Chris Brown, of Cincinnati's Metropole, infuses plums with Pimm's, thyme, and orange peel for his inventive "40-Love."