Hi friends. It’s been a minute.
Despite waking up with what my kid calls “a cold in my beak” (thanks, Daniel Tiger), I nevertheless hopped out of bed with a bit of a spring in my step this morning. Today is a little bit exciting for us here in Chicago.
This time last year, we were just working on sharing our years-long work on The Aviary Cocktail Book with you and the rest of the world. The response to the book has been amazingly overwhelming. In the time since we last checked in with you, around 70,000 other folks have joined you in ownership of the book, and nearly all of the feedback we’ve gotten about it has been positive.
This reception has allowed us the ability to build new projects, and build we have. This year, we have been working on – not one – but three new publishing projects for The Alinea Group. We’ve been producing these projects simultaneously, sort of like how Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy (our production involved considerably less armor), and we’re sharing the first of these today.
Sarah and I are collectors of art we find inspiring, and over the years have amassed a sizable amount of what might best be called “slow-read magazines”. You’ve probably seen projects like this in your local hipster coffee shop or other places that deal in higher-quality magazines. They sort of sit somewhere in between a magazine and a softcover book: the paper and general print quality is high, and they feel notably less-disposable than a typical circular.
We’ve often thought it would be fun to make something in a format like this, but the notion has just sat on the back burner for several years.
When we were building The Aviary book, a subject that popped up in our conversations over and over again was about how we approached writing recipes. We went back and forth several times about whether we should be refactoring them all to be easier to make at home, or keeping them faithful to the way we make them here. We ultimately chose the latter direction obviously, but it wasn’t a decision we arrived at lightly. And it’s a decision that continued to itch us well after we’d sent our book off to the printer.
Why is this? Both myself and the entire culinary team here have a deep-seated interest in sharing knowledge, and despite wanting to proudly share the experiments and discoveries we’ve made over the years in our kitchens at The Aviary, we also dislike the notion that our use of esoteric equipment and ingredients makes the experience of recreating some of these recipes in accessible to some.
So it was only a matter of time before these two ideas slammed into one another. We decided to try making an inexpensive booklet filled with recipes that have been designed from the ground up to be easy and fun to make – not in a high-end restaurant – but at home.
For our first of these projects, we chose to center our work around one of our favorite times of year: the holiday season. The period of the year we’re currently entering always seems to be highly-focused around parties, family get-togethers, and other opportunities to share food or drinks with loved ones. We built around 30 recipes that all make use of seasonal, easy-to-find ingredients. Some of these are single-portion cocktails, but a good deal of them are large-format “punches”, meant to be ladled generously from large bowls into the glasses of each of your guests.
This project included one critical difference from the way we built The Aviary Book: Sarah and I stepped into the position of being test chefs. Because we needed to ensure everything could be made at home – without any specialized kitchen equipment – we worked for months carefully making and testing everything. We would periodically pack all our stuff into coolers and bring them into work to let the chefs taste and verify we’d gotten things right.
Our first shipment of these booklets has arrived in the U.S., and is being transported to our fulfillment warehouses as we speak. They’ll soon be unpacked and inventoried, and will begin shipping mid-October if everything goes to plan. If you’d like to reserve a copy for yourself today, we’ve opened up preorders on our site.
–a & s