The revival of classic cocktail bars has coincided with a similar upswing in interest in bar tools—those magical instruments of muddling, swizzling, shaking and spritzing yore. So when chef Grant Achatz, of Chicago's Alinea restaurant, opened The Aviary cocktail bar in 2010 promising the, "same attention to detail as a four-star restaurant; where bartenders are trained as chefs; where the produce and herbs are carefully sourced and procured fresh daily," there was cause for celebration amongst design lovers.
From the beginning, Achatz and his business partner Nick Kokonas have worked with the designer Martin Kastner to create unique servingware that highlights the avant garde textures and flavors of the food coming out of the Alinea kitchen. For The Aviary, the design details of creating and serving cocktails were taken just as seriously. Kastner was tasked with creating an object that would embody the methods, ingredients and delight of "fast-infusion" cocktails—cocktails evolving during the course of the time it takes to serve them. As Kastner tells it, "it occurred to me that what we're really looking for is a window into another world, space, and time. An image of the submarine porthole in Karel Zeman's 1958 movie 'The Fabulous World of Jules Verne' came to my mind and the design direction was set."The Porthole can be used to infuse cocktails, oils, teas, dressings and coffee and is constructed of a pivoting food-grade Delrin frame with the body constructed with low-iron glass. All of the hardware, including the filter screens, is constructed with stainless steel. These beautiful yet functional displays began disappearing from The Aviary soon after they debuted at the bar last year.
On Tuesday, a small rumble occurred amongst the cocktail-swilling, design-loving crowd. Martin Kastner launched his Kickstarter campaign to manufacture the Porthole infusion vessels for retail. For as little as a $1, you can receive a recipe for the inaugural Blueberry cocktail from the Aviary...for $5,000, you can have a full day with Chef Achatz and Chief Mixologist at The Aviary. As of press time, the project is approaching the $100,000 mark with $60K booked out in the first 24-hours. Cheers! to an opportunity to crowdfund a small piece of food design history.