When the name Grant Achatz is attached to anything, people flock to it. That's no exception with The Aviary, the James Beard–winning, three-Michelin-starred chef's upscale cocktail lounge in Chicago's Fulton Market area next to his concept-changing restaurant, Next. But it's the Office, the lower-level 21-seat invite-only (unless you book a private party) speakeasy where you really want to drink, especially since it was nominated for World's Best Spirits Selection during the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail. While Aviary is about the future of cocktailing, the Office harks back in time to when drinks were stiff. But this being an Achatz joint, with beverage director Micah Melton at the helm, nothing is "normal." The collection of 135 bourbons (about 100 are near impossible to find elsewhere) and 21 single barrels or custom blends are often bought at auction to obtain vintage or lost bottlings, many from defunct distilleries.
THE DRINK TO DRINK:
You could get a VanHattan with Sazerac 6-year rye and 10-year Old Rip Van Winkle, but Melton leans toward Old Fitzgerald 1965, bonded from Stitzel-Weller neat with an eye dropper of water to release some of the oils.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Drink whatever you are into, but don't order what you're used to. Ask for a drink or spirit you haven't had before. Be adventurous and trust you'll enjoy it.
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