When this infamous Chicago establishment opened in NYC, we had to purchase tickets. I was especially excited to compare the new Aviary in the Big Apple to the original location in Chicago. As we arrived at the swanky lobby of the Mandarin Oriental on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, we were met with a stark contrast to the low key, intimate, low-lit Chicago location in the West Loop. The Aviary NYC has sweeping views of Central Park South and plush chairs in a nude/blue themed open lounge, complete with high ceilings.
As we sat at our table next to the (almost) floor to high ceiling windows, our server brought complimentary passionfruit and mole shots, which had nice little kicks to them. They really whet our appetite and immediately had us ordering our stylish cocktails.
One of my favorite presentations of the night was the "Loaded to the Gunwalls", which came with a single candlestick that reminded us of Scrooge with his candle in A Christmas Carol. The rum concoction was first served in a bell-shaped bottle with a pirate ship inside, which was a beautiful presentation. And then our server sprayed a clay bowl with mace through the fire on the candle, which simulated a (tiny) cannon going off, and the cocktail was poured into the bowl. Afterwards, we could smell the smokiness from all the way across the table!
The Heart of Stone is the cocktail that is served inside the beautiful $120 porthole tea infuser. Every time we order a cocktail served in this infuser at the Aviary, I am mesmerized by the mix of ingredients inside. The device allows you to slowly consume the drink, and as you do, the flavor profile changes from a light, fruity peach to a deep and heavily infused bourbon.
Warning: do not go on an empty stomach. The drinks are all pretty strong, so you'll want to at least have some sustenance before you begin with the alcohol. In case you weren't prepared, the Aviary has an extensive snack menu. But the best item for sharing (and in my opinion, the best item period) is the pork rind, which is presented as a piece of abstract artwork that could be mistaken for a table centerpiece.
My husband's go-to drink at the Aviary is always whichever version of "In the Rocks" they have on the menu because he loves using the slingshot. The whiskey itself is encased in the ball of ice, and a metal slingshot device is placed over the glass. Then you get to do the honors yourself!
I had to try the "Up the Ice Ante" because it was one of the few drinks I hadn't had before at the Aviary. I loved the presentation, with icy, peachy poker chips that are strung on a metal spoon. Then the horchata is poured over to complete the drink. You can use the spoon to stir, or it also doubles as a straw!
After our first round of drinks, it got dark outside, and the lights inside dimmed. As I looked around, everyone had a spotlight on their table but the one over ours was broken. So I tried shooting that ISO up, but even with that, I couldn't get that crispy clear shot. In any case, the Zombie Panda is a drink that has been on the Aviary menu for years, and it is the perfect tropical concoction. The Carrot Cake Ramos tastes like a sweet carrot cake with that perfectly light cream cheese frosting. If you are not looking for the action in your table side cocktail assembly, these are really great options to go with!
- Purchase tickets, which goes towards the cost of drinks, as a reservation.
- Request a window seat so you get the spectacular views from Columbus Circle.