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Holly Moore

Aviary Cocktail Videos

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You know... I hate to be a hater, but most of the Aviary cocktail videos come off to me as far too self-satisfied about what fundamentally strikes me as somewhere between whimsy for the sake of whimsy and bullcrap mixology. I mean, serving booze and bitters inside of an "ice egg" is a neat trick, but that's what it is: a trick.

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You know... I hate to be a hater, but most of the Aviary cocktail videos come off to me as far too self-satisfied about what fundamentally strikes me as somewhere between whimsy for the sake of whimsy and bullcrap mixology. I mean, serving booze and bitters inside of an "ice egg" is a neat trick, but that's what it is: a trick.

Oh, I agree for the most part, and so far. But, I'll wait for the bar to serve a drink or two before I judge. Craig has the food science part down and enough cocktail knowledge to be somewhat dangerous, while Josh has some serious mixology chops and above average skills with the rotary evaporator, but only recently actually joined the Aviary team. I expect that what we're seeing of the R&D process is only a shadow of what will eventually come across the bar.

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You know... I hate to be a hater, but most of the Aviary cocktail videos come off to me as far too self-satisfied about what fundamentally strikes me as somewhere between whimsy for the sake of whimsy and bullcrap mixology. I mean, serving booze and bitters inside of an "ice egg" is a neat trick, but that's what it is: a trick.

I've never seen this before. It's pretty neat, but I don't think I would be interested in more than one after the novelty wears out. Plus, how are they going to make this work for service. Are they going to premake them? I see some potential problems there (what if I want my OF with baby Saz not Buffalo Trace?). If they don't premake them, am I going to have to wait 20-30 minutes for a drink? I wonder how long and forgiving in terms of time the freezing process is. There are a lot of variables to juggle here when you actually think about something like this being ordered made.

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You know... I hate to be a hater, but most of the Aviary cocktail videos come off to me as far too self-satisfied about what fundamentally strikes me as somewhere between whimsy for the sake of whimsy and bullcrap mixology. I mean, serving booze and bitters inside of an "ice egg" is a neat trick, but that's what it is: a trick.

Oh, I agree for the most part, and so far. But, I'll wait for the bar to serve a drink or two before I judge. Craig has the food science part down and enough cocktail knowledge to be somewhat dangerous, while Josh has some serious mixology chops and above average skills with the rotary evaporator, but only recently actually joined the Aviary team. I expect that what we're seeing of the R&D process is only a shadow of what will eventually come across the bar.

We posted pretty much at the same time. I agree though-if anybody can do it, they can. I doubt the "tricky" element of it will vanish though. I mean, that's pretty much what Alinea's about in a lot of ways. I say this counting a trip to Alinea as the best dining experience I've had too. I'll go to Aviary when it opens.

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You know... I hate to be a hater, but most of the Aviary cocktail videos come off to me as far too self-satisfied about what fundamentally strikes me as somewhere between whimsy for the sake of whimsy and bullcrap mixology. I mean, serving booze and bitters inside of an "ice egg" is a neat trick, but that's what it is: a trick.

Oh, I agree for the most part, and so far. But, I'll wait for the bar to serve a drink or two before I judge. Craig has the food science part down and enough cocktail knowledge to be somewhat dangerous, while Josh has some serious mixology chops and above average skills with the rotary evaporator, but only recently actually joined the Aviary team. I expect that what we're seeing of the R&D process is only a shadow of what will eventually come across the bar.

We posted pretty much at the same time. I agree though-if anybody can do it, they can. I doubt the "tricky" element of it will vanish though. I mean, that's pretty much what Alinea's about in a lot of ways. I say this counting a trip to Alinea as the best dining experience I've had too. I'll go to Aviary when it opens.

Yes, I have no doubt that they will find a way to use the scientific techniques that have made them famous. What I truly hope is that those techniques will be put to uses that enhance the cocktail experience in new and unforeseen ways, just as they have done with dining at Alinea. Given my interactions with all those involved, I would be shocked if they didn't.

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Does the Aviary approach detract from the end product? Does it improve it? Since no one has had one yet, we don't know. If one trusts that Grant Achatz is not one to put out a lesser product for the sake of science there is no reason to believe he will start now.

Aviary is simply adding a bit of fun, showmanship and, for some, surprise to the cocktail. That is a good thing.

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Does the Aviary approach detract from the end product? Does it improve it? Since no one has had one yet, we don't know. If one trusts that Grant Achatz is not one to put out a lesser product for the sake of science there is no reason to believe he will start now.

Aviary is simply adding a bit of fun, showmanship and, for some, surprise to the cocktail. That is a good thing.

Yes, but I think Sam's critique is valid with regard to the PR we've seen so far, particularly if you're paying primary attention to the taster's reactions to their creations. Everything is really cool or amazing...the mood is consistently giddy or blown away. I think that's what Sam's calling "self-satisfied". If one of us were standing in the room, would we have the courage to say, "Is it that amazing? Really? Compared to <whatever similar thing has been done already>?" There are high hopes for this project, mine among them. I don't doubt they can produce something truly amazing, but we haven't seen it yet.


Edited by KD1191 (log)

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Aviary is simply adding a bit of fun, showmanship and, for some, surprise to the cocktail. That is a good thing.

That is a good thing. However, removing one of the crucial components of bartending -- a la minute service of a quality beverage -- is a bad thing. Just sayin'.

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Probably depends on how Aviary's Old Fashion comes together during service along with how guests buy into the Aviary experience..

In any event I'd suggest that if preparing the old fashion at the bar, in front of the guest, improves the quality of the drink, that is the way it should be done. If there is no discernible difference in quality, then it is simply exchanging one approach to showmanship for another.

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I will allow as how my overall impression of these Aviary cocktails is not formed exclusively by their Old Fashioned, but also by stuff like their

. It's formed from my subjective impression of these videos as presenting a self-satisfied "look at this cool modern stuff we're doing" attitude combined with the fact that I'm in a position to know that things like encapsulation "caviar" in cocktails was a tired concept two years ago and, frankly, was always kind of bullcrap gimmickry. I mean, when big companies like Cointreau are selling "Cointreau Pearl" kits, encapsulations in cocktails have jumped the shark. And it's not like anyone is putting a gun to their heads and making them do these videos. The whole put-on-for-video smug discussions about how awesome this already-passé technique is, and how the only reason "those other bars" aren't doing it is because it's just too gosh darn labor intensive . . . it's just a little too self-contragulatory for cocktails that don't exactly make me say "wow." I have a hard time thinking I'd be blown away, or thinking that there's anything particularly innovative or forward-looking about a cocktail comprised of gin, Yellow Chartreuse, citric acid and tonic water with a bunch of cucumber juice encapsulations floating around in it. I could go on, because most of the videos have some element like this. Another good example is where they present the concept of a clear cocktail made using a rotary evaporator... something Dave Arnold and others were doing several years ago.

These guys are talented, of course, and I'm sure they will come up with things that are good. I'm being hard on them not because there's anything all that terrible about what they're doing, but rather because it's a bit emblematic of what I don't like about a certain kind of molecular gastronomy take on cocktails. Gus like Dave Arnold manage to use new technologies in drinks in a much better way, in my opinion. But, as I said earlier, what I have seen thus far from the Aviary guys has appeared more whimsical trickery than it has appeared like legitimate mixology to merit that much back-patting. In fact, I'd say that the "old fashioned in an ice egg" is the only one of their videos so far that has struck me as all that interesting. It's a presentation trick, of course, perhaps as interesting as some of the lesser Japanese cocktail ice carving presentation tricks. But at least it's interesting, which is more than I can say for the other stuff. The "painkiller pudding" looks revolting, and represents one of the worst kinds of "transformation for the sake of transformation" that is a constant temptation in the molecular gastronomy game -- this time they transformed it into something that isn't a cocktail.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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In any event I'd suggest that if preparing the old fashion at the bar, in front of the guest, improves the quality of the drink, that is the way it should be done. If there is no discernible difference in quality, then it is simply exchanging one approach to showmanship for another.

Questions I regularly ask at my bar: "How would you like your Old Fashioned? Do you prefer a lighter, wheated bourbon or something with a more pronounced rye character? Sweeter or drier? Standard Fee's or Angostura bitters, or would you like to try one of the orange bitters? Standard or improved?" Etc.

Statement at Aviary: "Here's your Old Fashioned" -- which really means "Our Old Fashioned."

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Aviary is simply adding a bit of fun, showmanship and, for some, surprise to the cocktail. That is a good thing.

That is a good thing. However, removing one of the crucial components of bartending -- a la minute service of a quality beverage -- is a bad thing. Just sayin'.

The negativity surrounding Aviary's drinks (in particular the Old Fashioned) in this thread hasn't been shown toward barrel-aged and bottle-aged cocktails. What's the difference?!? I may be totally wrong (and if so please correct me), but I'd assume that the only part of the drink that will be prepared in advance is the egg ice-ball*. The drink will then be prepared, funneled into the egg ice-ball, and then served.

The style of drinks-making these guys are playing around with (most call it molecular mixology but I hate that terminology) is one that'll always create a division, it's the marmite of cocktails if you must. They may not be breaking down boundaries and they may well be revisiting techniques that've already been discovered, but aren't we all doing that?

*On a sidenote, I've seen these egg ice-balls used in the UK in Japanese restaurants for serving some of their dishes and it was something I played around with for Yatai, but never actually got round to using. They're very easy to make and have some interesting uses in the right setting...

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The negativity surrounding Aviary's drinks (in particular the Old Fashioned) in this thread hasn't been shown toward barrel-aged and bottle-aged cocktails. What's the difference?!? I may be totally wrong (and if so please correct me), but I'd assume that the only part of the drink that will be prepared in advance is the egg ice-ball*. The drink will then be prepared, funneled into the egg ice-ball, and then served.

As I understand it, the booze is decanted into the "ice egg" and then the hole is somehow sealed, meaning that the booze-filled ice egg has to stay in the freezer for some time after it is filled.

I don't have much of a problem with the fact that the customer doesn't get the same kind of choice in this old fashioned as he would in a regular cocktail bar. That's not Alinea's thing, after all. Presumably they're also not asking how you like your steak. What I don't care for is the overall self-congratulatory presentation of old and largely tired gimmicks in these videos as though they're original and particularly brilliant ideas (people were doing cocktails with melting flavors in them more than 5 years ago). Whimsy for the sake of whimsy is an annoying feature of certain "molecular" types. Of all the ideas featured in the videos, the ice egg old fashioned at least seems like it could be a good drink. It's a minor thing, really, just that I've found myself engaging in a fair bit of eye-rolling when watching these videos.

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Before Alinea opened there was a lot of experimentation with dishes, a lot of trial and error. These videos give some insight into a similar creative process, but to judge now before we know what the final product is doesn't make a whole lot of sense (especially with these guys).

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Yeah, you're making a good point, as is Adam. Something about this gets my nose twitching. As big a fan of Alinea as I am -- I had the best meal of my life there -- I would love to see Aviary retain some of the qualities that make the best bars shine, and fear clever for clever's sake, outmoded or otherwise.

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As I understand it, the booze is decanted into the "ice egg" and then the hole is somehow sealed, meaning that the booze-filled ice egg has to stay in the freezer for some time after it is filled.

After looking into what Aviary seems to be about it doesn't sound like the sort of place where you'd rock up and ask for a drink made to your specific requirements as they intend to pair dishes with drinks so everything will follow a specific recipe (I'd assume).

I'm sure they'd have no problem fixing you an Old-Fashioned to your desired tastes, which i can't be 100% sure of not knowing the people behind it, but it doesn't sound and look like that's the purpose of the venue.

What I don't care for is the overall self-congratulatory presentation of old and largely tired gimmicks in these videos as though they're original and particularly brilliant ideas (people were doing cocktails with melting flavors in them more than 5 years ago).

Which is a fair enough point but I read posts on this forum every other day which are made by someone who is discovering something which has already been done years ago, typically decades if not over a century old. What's the difference there?

To me these videos seem like a pretty neat way for them to showcase the various techniques they are playing around with to create an element of intrigue. What seems apparent is that the bartender is constructing recipes which he's then demonstrating to the chef.

If anything it's a clever use of social media, you only need to read some of the comments under the videos to show that it's working for them in that respect.

Whimsy for the sake of whimsy is an annoying feature of certain "molecular" types. Of all the ideas featured in the videos, the ice egg old fashioned at least seems like it could be a good drink. It's a minor thing, really, just that I've found myself engaging in a fair bit of eye-rolling when watching these videos.

Whimsical ideas are commonplace in the F&B industry, but sometimes it's fun and it tastes good, and it just works, you know... ;)


Edited by evo-lution (log)

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What seems apparent is that the bartender is constructing recipes which he's then demonstrating to the chef.

All the folks in the videos I've seen so far are chefs...the bartender has yet to make an appearance.

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I believe that Craig Schoettler (has a fauxhawk hairstyle in some clips) is the guy running the bar and designing its menu. And I should hasten to add that I'm sure he's talented. This really is an overall kvetch on my part, because the videos really do seem to focus on whimsical trickery rather than mixology. Then again, I'm not sure exactly what background in cocktails he has, either.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I believe that Craig Schoettler (has a fauxhawk hairstyle in some clips) is the guy running the bar and designing its menu.

Craig is Chef de Tournant at Alinea. He did a lot of the work on the solid cocktails there, and has been doing a lot on the concept for Aviary. He is a fantastic guy (eta: an amazing cook), and has some great cocktail knowledge, but he is not a bartender. The bartender for Aviary is Josh Habiger (formerly of Alinea and Fat Duck, but most recently of the Patterson House).

ETA: I totally understand much of the "kvetch"...I'd even agree if I thought the folks in the videos were trying to portray themselves as cocktail experts, but I don't believe they are. I think they're showing off some neat tricks, which may play a part of the ultimate menu, but are far from the end of where this project is going.


Edited by KD1191 (log)

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These guys are talented, of course, and I'm sure they will come up with things that are good. I'm being hard on them not because there's anything all that terrible about what they're doing, but rather because it's a bit emblematic of what I don't like about a certain kind of molecular gastronomy take on cocktails. Gus like Dave Arnold manage to use new technologies in drinks in a much better way, in my opinion. But, as I said earlier, what I have seen thus far from the Aviary guys has appeared more whimsical trickery than it has appeared like legitimate mixology to merit that much back-patting. In fact, I'd say that the "old fashioned in an ice egg" is the only one of their videos so far that has struck me as all that interesting. It's a presentation trick, of course, perhaps as interesting as some of the lesser Japanese cocktail ice carving presentation tricks. But at least it's interesting, which is more than I can say for the other stuff. The "painkiller pudding" looks revolting, and represents one of the worst kinds of "transformation for the sake of transformation" that is a constant temptation in the molecular gastronomy game -- this time they transformed it into something that isn't a cocktail.

I can see Sam's point here. Much of the stuff appears to be a solution in search of a problem. It's like they have certain techniques and are trying to apply them to cocktails, whether or not the cocktail world is the right place for them. Sort of "if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail." One of the worst cocktails I ever had was a something or other with a berry foam - sorry, slime on my drink just doesn't work.

I do like the idea of the interaction with the drink and bringing in the sound of cracking the egg. I don't like the thought of drinking an old fashioned with sharp shards of ice hitting my teeth. A straw would certainly be needed.

On a technical note, the alcohol will eventually dissolve some of the ice until you have a mixture with a freezing point equal to the storage temperature. This could limit how far in advance you could make up the eggs and/or limit you to lower proof booze.

Particularly for the Old Fashioned, the tradition of mixing the drink is important, although less so if served to tables. How about freezing the whiskey alone and serving over the sugar and bitters? That way you could still tailor the drink to taste.

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My guess is that when it opens Aviary will have some spectacular stuff happening. The ideas they're playing with are embryonic; I don't get the feeling we're seeing the finished products here.

That said, I agree with Sam about these videos. They feel scripted and viral advertising-y to me. And the, I dunno, self-satisfied astonishment with their own brilliance irks me. Who but us could possibly pull off something this crazy? Meh. My mind isn't blown quite yet.

In sum, I am very much looking forward to checking out what they do, but these videos are a bit smug.

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In sum, I am very much looking forward to checking out what they do, but these videos are a bit smug.

I'd be curious to know who they think the target audience of these videos is.

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In sum, I am very much looking forward to checking out what they do, but these videos are a bit smug.

I'd be curious to know who they think the target audience of these videos is.

Check out the comments under their videos and you may get an idea.

The reaction from some on here to these videos is quite funny to be honest. They're harmless, not claiming to be doing anything unique, and are exposing people (who may not have had the chance to experience it) to another element of modern cocktail culture.

So what if it's been done five years ago (the vast majority here are guilty of rediscovering techniques for themselves and boasting about it), so what if you think it comes across as smug (to me it's just some guys having fun), they're using the internet to whet the appetites of the following they have...


Edited by evo-lution (log)

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