The Aviary Cocktail Book

We're working on changing the way cookbooks are published. Would you like to join us?

Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the creators and owners of Alinea in Chicago, have teamed up with Allen and Sarah Hemberger, an artist duo from California, to make an extraordinary cookbook for their cocktail bar The Aviary. 

About The Aviary

We opened the Aviary in Chicago in 2011; it was born out of our passion for innovation and challenging the status quo. We asked ourselves: "What if we approach crafting cocktails the way we approach cooking?" The result is the Aviary, a place where we leverage techniques we usually apply in our kitchens at Alinea, Next and Roister to the world of beverages.

 

The Aviary Cocktail Book

We've wanted to create a book for the Aviary since we first opened. Grant recalls some of his formative years as a chef, when he was first learning his craft and was poring over massive, jaw-dropping tomes in search of knowledge. Fat, heavy, beautiful books like those by Thomas Keller or Alain Ducasse were brimming with beautiful, full-page photos that profoundly inspired him.

We’ve never seen a beverage book that compares to those iconic cookbooks. Cocktail books usually fall into a very narrow category in terms of style and design: "The Gentleman’s Guide to Cocktails". The small, black book. Few pictures, if any. Kitschy illustrations, and recipes that are portioned for a single drink.

This is due to how books are typically produced. For any book, publishers seek to ensure profit and minimize risk. This often means that the photography, design, layout, recipe structure, and printing quality are intentionally compromised. Further, the bulk of profit generated for a book goes to the publisher; restaurant cookbooks generally only see “good publicity” for the most part. 

Shortly after we published our first cookbook, Alinea, we came into contact with Allen Hemberger, who was cooking some of our recipes and journaling about it along the way. Incredibly, he ended up working through the entire cookbook. When he finished, he and his wife Sarah decided to create a book about his experience. They sent the first copy to us. 

As we flipped through it, we realized that maybe instead of compromising our visions for what we wanted our Aviary book to be, we could approach this whole problem from a totally different angle. We emailed Allen and Sarah and asked if they'd like to work with us to completely circumvent the current publishing system and make these books ourselves.

And...here we are. 

Where we are now, and what we want to do

Preordering this book will allow us to work unconstrained by design and printing limitations, while pricing our book comparably to great cookbooks. We can spend more time, effort, and money on the quality and content than ever before. By removing the middleman, we believe we can create something even more unique for our supporters.

We've assembled over 100 recipes from our Aviary and Office menus to potentially be included in The Aviary Cocktail Book, and have done preliminary design and photography to develop the visual language of the book we'd like to create. We've deeply investigated various book production technologies to decide which will work best for our vision of a beautifully-crafted book that will stand the test of time. We've assembled a unique, dedicated kitchen studio in which our chefs and designers can work side-by-side to capture the production of these recipes in a way no other beverage book has done before. 

Beautiful pictures will show you the finished product. Recipes will be scaled for a single drink or, where appropriate, batched for a party. We’ll even explore rare products, antique selections, and clever culinary techniques that can set your drinks apart.

Where we go from here largely depends on the support we receive for this book. The support we've received so far allows us to adaptively make decisions about things like recipe count, physical dimensions of the book, paper type, and other design and production touches that would normally be considered impractical by normal large-scale book production methods. Because we're producing this book entirely ourselves, support for this project will go directly towards creating the most high-quality book we possibly can. And because we're going about it in this way, we can share the entire process of creating this book with you.