After years of rumors, Chef Grant Achatz confirmed today that he's bringing his much-lauded Aviary bar concept to New York City later this year. Aviary New York, which will open in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel this summer, will be Achatz's first permanent project outside of Chicago and will find him collaborating once again with longtime partner Nick Kokonas, along with Aviary beverage director Micah Melton.
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The Aviary opened in Chicago's Fulton River District in April of 2011 to massive acclaim, offering cocktail tasting menus of boundary-pushing concoctions and accompanying bites. The Aviary team replaced bartenders with "cocktail chefs" who mix rare ingredients inside a cage-like cocktail kitchen using custom-made ice crafted by "ice chefs" in an ice room. The result is a variety of cocktails given the same attention to detail that Achatz would personally deliver in any of his restaurants' kitchens. The Aviary opened in conjunction with Achatz's Next restaurant, which takes on unique multi-month themes, such as Paris 1906, Childhood, and Ancient Rome.
Achatz's storied career began in the kitchens of Charlie Trotter's, The French Laundry and Trio before he opened his first restaurant, Alinea, in 2005 with Nick Kokonas. Achatz famously battled oral cancer in 2007 and continued working in the kitchen even as he temporarily lost his sense of taste. His and Kokonas's book, Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, released in 2011, documents both Achatz's career and the details of his health scare as the duo opened the restaurant in 2007. Alinea currently holds three Michelin stars and received the 2016 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant.
There is no word yet if a new restaurant will accompany Aviary New York, but there will undoubtedly be plenty to drink and marvel at when the new outpost opens later this year.