The Eagle has landed.
Or, rather, the new Aviary Cocktail Book has finally been delivered to my house.
To call this a "book" is to understate. This thing weighs more than my dog, and it has more glossy, gorgeous photographs than a particularly expensive wedding album.
To call it a "cocktail book" is inadequate. With its frequent forays into molecular gastronomy, ice sculpting and the culinary arts, there's so much to unpack here beyond crafting cocktails.
And to say it contains "recipes" is a misnomer. Rather, it explores the world of mixology with the same process that has made Alinea and its siblings so continually fascinating in the culinary world.
Remember the movie Galaxy Quest? The aliens in that movie watched our "historical documents," curiously deconstructed what they believed to be our reality, and rebuilt it for themselves. They completely lacked any context whatsoever, so in using their incomplete understanding of humanity as the basis for rebuilding their entire society, they created something totally new.
I'm not saying Grant Achatz and team are aliens, or obtuse, or in need of some time in the sun, but their approach feels like an intentional version of this process. In the Aviary Cocktail Book, the creators are simultaneously intense students and aggressive dismantlers of mixology. They share all the ways they've chosen to reconstruct it, intentionally pulling things out of context, discarding the generally accepted form/function of various ingredients/tools/techniques, and poking holes in mixology as we know it to create space for something completely other-worldly. Best yet, they invite us into the exercise, giving us the tools we need to stand up our own version of a centuries-old craft.
At any rate.
I've barely scratched the surface of this tome, and it will likely take years for me to truly consume it, so you'll no doubt see it featured here again. I hope you'll acquire it for yourself and follow along.
In the meantime, I'll share one final first impression... perhaps my favorite feature of the book so far is that it has not one but 13 lucky tables of contents and an exhaustive index, solving my main gripe with the PDT Cocktail Book – why, on God's green earth, would you organize such a book alphabetically? And why would your index only reference base spirits when what I really need is ideas for creative uses of sherry, or how to use up this Creme de Cassis? Thankfully the book is now available digitally, which makes it searchable, but it's definitely my main beef with the print version.