Blockbuster dining and drink news for New York: Nick Kokonas and chef Grant Achatz announced today that they’re bringing hit Chicago cocktail bar The Aviary to New York City this year. The chef, who’s best known for being the creative mastermind of Alinea, posted a snazzy video on Monday morning announcing that the NYC outpost of the bar will be located at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle. Beverage director Micah Melton has also been working on the project that’s expected to open in the summer.
Kokonas wrote to Eater saying that the new Aviary —in the works for over three years— will be on the 35th floor of the building and, judging by the video that posted on the website, that means some pretty stunning views for the New York location. They’re taking over the Lobby Lounge and MoBar that used to be in the building and redesigning it. “The only part that will remain unchanged are the amazing views of Central Park,” he writes. An outpost of The Office — an ultra-exclusive speakeasy counterpart to The Aviary — will also be a part of the space.
Offerings will change up in terms of what’s on the menu. “It'll be slightly more buttoned up than Chicago,” writes Kokonas, “and the cocktails will reflect the history of the NYC bar history.”
The Aviary in Chicago is known as one of the world’s best bars. It opened in 2011, taking a fine-dining approach to cocktails. Like Alinea, The Aviary has been a game-changer in how drinks are presented. Bartenders are treated like chefs and ice sculptors work as an integral part of the kitchen. The place offers tasting menus with the cocktails that run up to $195-per-person. Drinks are made in a fenced-in “cocktail kitchen.” It has become one of Chicago’s essential cocktail bars.
Achatz and Kokonas have been teasing photos of a construction site on social media over the past month. Rumors have been fueling for years that the team was eyeing a space near Columbus Circle, but this is the first time the revolutionary Alinea Group will be opening a project in New York. Stay tuned for more.