"We're really just big nerds who don't know how to do any other job," says Ross Hunsinger, lead bartender at Aviary on Alberta Street in NE Portland." Hunsinger says that creativity and collaboration are encouraged and boundaries between the kitchen and bar are non-existent. "I am really lucky to have people with really great palates to bounce ideas off of," says Hunsinger. "The constant collaboration brings us all to a higher level."
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Craig Schoettler is handy with a blowtorch. It's not your typical bartool, but then again, the Aviary—where Schoettler runs the beverage program—is far from your typical bar. Always hunting for new inspiration and raw materials, Schoettler happened to ask the folks at Heaven Hill in Kentucky if the Aviary could have one of the distillery's spent bourbon barrels. They happily obliged, and soon enough Schoettler was devising ways to incorporate the sweet, comforting, campfire aroma locked within the charred, whiskey-seasoned wood into an Aviary cocktail.