by Jennifer Olvera
Handcrafted cocktails aren’t exactly new to Chicago — look to The Violet Hour for proof of that. However, it’s safe to say Grant Achatz‘s soon-to-debut Aviary in the West Loop will ratchet things up further, what with its cocktail kitchen serving experimental, tincture-meets-classic cocktails, approachably hip, no-reservations vibe and potables that surprisingly top out at under $20. (Mind you, there’s no actual “bar” and labels can’t be “called.”) Future plans for Aviary include a haute, basement-level den that is said to be the antithesis of the main lounge. With room for only 20 guests, the exclusive space will serve luxuries like caviar by the ounce and a foie gras terrine.
All that said, the thing everyone is clamoring for even more is by-ticket-only Next, which opened next door today, April 6. Want a visual? Check out the accompanying You Tube video, which breaks down the opening “Paris 1906: Escoffier at the Ritz” menu. Will you actually be able to get tickets? Best of luck, if you’re not already in the 19,000-plus-strong queue. There were early problems with the reservation system, prompting the following Facebook post: “At 4 PM we will shut down sales for tonight and move to Same Day tickets… you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how many in your party and your preferred time. If we have something close we will give you a call… include phone # please.” Also, there’s a ray of hope: nightly, one or more tables will be available on a first come basis via Twitter, @NextRestaurant.