Alchemy is an elevated cocktail lounge in more ways than one. Owned by Oliver and Bonacini Hospitality, it features a menu with around 30, count ’em, 30 signature cocktails. Some of these concoctions came from the bartenders from various Oliver and Bonacini establishments, who were challenged to use ingredients from around the world to create unique flavours for the new lounge.
The lounge, which opens to the public on Thursday (Oct. 3) is located on the fifth floor of the new JW Marriott downtown, and offers panoramic views of downtown. Antique brass mixes with floral wallpaper and buttery leather couches to create a vibe that’s accessible, yet more than a little bit retro, without veering into kitsch. The menu matches the elevation of the lounge, and Julien Lavoie, director of operations for Oliver and Bonacini Western Canada, spent six months putting together the cocktail menu.
He made for us the Oh My, which he says was inspired by the cocktail scene of … Buenos Aires. With grapefruit, sherry and Aperol poured over crushed ice, it’s the kind of drink that could bump the once-mighty mimosa from the top of any brunch menu.
We also tried the Oh Snap! It’s a cocktail with gin and prosecco that was concocted by one of the bartenders. While the snap pea garnish gives the flavour profile away, when Lavoie first tasted it, he wasn’t given any reference points. And he was stumped what gave the drink such a unique flavour — it’s compressed sugar-snap peas. It’s a booze-forward drink that’s sweet but doesn’t lose its freshness.
There’s an aggressive meal and snacks menu as well, and the Alchemist Burger, with a no-nonsense beef patty that has no filler, is pretty darn tasty, with good old-fashioned processed cheese. It was juicy and substantial — proving that you don’t need to put the kitchen sink between two buns. The tuna tartare is fresh with a healthy dose of coconut milk, but my personal fav from our tasting experience were the Charred Beef Carpetbagger Rolls, which combine beef carpaccio and grilled eel. I mean, that’s about as modern a take on surf and turf as you’ll find in Edmonton at the moment …