If you try to visit the Aviary any time before the new year, you’ll likely be turned away at the door. Since its opening in September, the restaurant has been booked out entirely. But if you know someone, you’re very lucky or you have the patience to wait until 2018, it’s worth the show.
The New York location of The Aviary at the Mandarin Oriental at 80 Columbus Circle at 60th in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, has been long hyped up for its extravagant, science-experiment cocktails complete with bunsen burners, open flames, artisanal garnishes and all sorts of gadgets.
The atmosphere boasts an impressive view of the city from the 35th floor through sparkling clear and clean floor-to-ceiling windows. Utilizing exclusively cozy couch seating, dim lamps and flickering candlelight, this romantic skyline spot is a highly impressive date night favorite.
A pleasantly overwhelming group of beautiful hostesses greet you at a cherry-wood podium. They whisk guests away to exquisitely lavish seating–whether it’s a curly-armed mahogany chair with velvet cushioning or a perfectly placed corner couch sparkling with all types of decorative embellishments.
There’s a certain dark and sexy intrigue in the air, as the overall lighting is dim yet each individual seat offers enough flattering lighting to set the mood for a very special cocktail experience ahead.
I had to get the famous Science AF cocktail featured in all those eye-catching videos flooding my Facebook newsfeed. My server John said it was the most popular cocktail, as well as the most picturesque drink you could order. He was correct.
The drink is described as “blueberry, lemon, honey, ginger and scotches” ($28). And at this outrageously steep price, you’re paying for more than just a deliciously refreshing drink — it’s a drink and a show, all in one.
John returned to my table after taking my order with an enormous contraption holding what looked like an oversized hourglass. He explained how the berries and fruit in the top basin would slowly and effectively melt into the bottom where the liquor maintains its body above the open flame. The dark fruit liquid dripped into the beaker when lit, turning the mixture into a bright magenta color.
Our second beverage was the “Up The Ice Ante,” a horchata-style drink with flavored ice chips that John suggested I videotape to complete a very pleasant memory.
Each individual chip, round and pink or beige, had its own flavor–Angostura bitters, natural berry or white peach — and added the slightest hint of distinctive character. The drink itself was a warming mixture of oat, marcona almond, white peach and horchata; the perfect cocktail for the colder seasons.
The Aviary also offers small snacks and non-alcoholic versions of the popular cocktails. Your kids could enjoy the Science AF too!
Overall, the Aviary was really worth all the hype. Although if you’re going to spend $28 on a cocktail, including a $20 reservation fee, go for one of the extravagant ones and put on a show for you and your guest. Request a window seat for beautiful views and you won’t regret it.