Charles Joly headed to the Aviary

Photograph: John Sturdy

Nick Kokonas just put the news on Facebook:

The Aviary is pleased that Charles Joly will be joining us to direct our beverage program beginning at the end of July.

Charles will no doubt proudly call himself a bartender while we made the distinction to utilize 'chefs' in the Aviary 'kitchen'. Therein lies the allure of working together. Charles is one of the most talented, knowledgeable, and accomplished bartenders in the country. Combining his experience with the Aviary's staff, resources, and culinary focus will allow both Charles and the Aviary to stretch in new, creative directions.

We can't wait to see where this will lead...but we're quite sure it will be fun and delicious.

Joly is a surprising pick for Grant Achatz's bar, if only because he is so closely tied to the Drawing Room, the bar he has been at the helm of since it opened about six years ago. Reached on the phone, Joly admitted that he is indeed tied to that space—but that's exactly why this opportunity felt right.

"I've been with Three Headed [the company that owns the Drawing Room] over a decade, and we've been working on the Drawing Room for six-plus the timing was really serendipitous. I was looking for my next step, and they were looking to fill the role, and I think it's a great fit. Totally new challenge for me, a whole other set of opportunities and the right time."

In fact, it just so happened that Joly had been sharpening his modern-mixology skills. He recently completed a two-week stage (apprenticeship) at London's 69 Colebrooke Row, a bar that practices the same kind of cocktail-experimentation as the Aviary. There, Joly was exposed to much of the same equipment and techniques the Aviary uses, some of which were new to him. (Joly's style at the Drawing Room has leaned history-inspired and classic in technique, though some of this was due to the fact that the Drawing Room didn't have the tools to produce cocktails in the more modern style). "Techniques I'm not worried about," Joly says. "I'm not worried about being able to learn. The creativity will be there."

"Obviously my style is going to certainly influence [the Aviary's menu]," he continues. But "it's important to stay true to the vision of what the Aviary is. I'm excited to take on the challenge."

Joly's last day at the Drawing Room will be Saturday, July 14th. He'll start at the Aviary shortly thereafter (he'll head to Tales of the Cocktail in-between the gigs). Cristiana DeLucca, one of Joly's deputies, will take over the Drawing Room's program. "I feel confident in my staff there," Joly says. Which brings up another reason why Joly may be a perfect choice for the Aviary. Besides his obvious cocktail talents, he's a seasoned pro with years of experience running a staff. And that, if you believe the comments on this Eater post, is something the Aviary is badly in need of.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)