By the end of the evening, we were all caught up - thanks to what we'll call intensive tutoring, like the "Study of Scotch". It comes to the table in a wooden case, with miniature cocktails (soda, sour, and manhattan) nestled fetchingly in greenery and berries. This is far more fun than any of the studying I used to do.
|Study of scotch|
Our experience started off with "fig two ways": a star anise-spiked fig cocktail that's the autumnal version of the original sparkling sorrel cocktail from the spring, and a single fig bite topped with an absurdly delicate miniature chip of prosciutto.
I particularly loved trying the many new bites - each one a tiny, precise work of art. It still amazes me that these are produced in one corner of the kitchen area, with even less counter space than I have in my little apartment kitchen.
It's hard to pick a favorite, since they're so different - the crunchy-creamy, sweet-savory squash bites are elegantly subtle, while the bay scallops are piercingly tart and flavorful. The smoked salmon, atop a cauliflower mousse, packed all the classic garnishes into a one inch diameter along with a purply-blue flower that contrasts beautifully with the salmon. There's an artist's eye at work here.
Many of the classic Aviary cocktails have been re-imagined in the past weeks and months. Instead of the Rooibos, there's now the Oolong - same tea-infusion and vacuum pot setup, but with pear brandy and brown sugar for a very different flavor. Instead of the Bitter, an Amaro cocktail (made with rootbeer stock) is now poured into the wood smoke-filled glass.
|Glass for the Amaro|
And of course, there are some completely new drinks, like the Vieux Carré served in an icy, tall silver flask decorated with a knot of lemon rind. Despite its rather intimidating (to me, anyway) appearance, the flavor is enticing - a combination of vermouth, cognac, rye, and benedictine, a monk-produced herbal liqueur.
We also had the Peach (perfectly paired with a peach bite), with whiskey and maple and Angostura bitters complementing the peach juice, for a very sophisticated take on a fruity cocktail. It's a crisp and refreshing palate cleanser before "dessert".
To finish, "mignardises" - tiny cups of "hot buttered rum" with the flavors of popcorn and caramel, a few salty-sweet sips that warmed us and braced us to head out into the night (and promptly to bed!).
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