Little Italy has a promising new destination for mixed drinks, operated out of one of the city’s premier cocktail and bar-supply stores.
Alambika is the store, and tucked behind its St-Laurent premises is a new space, Alkadémie, that will host experienced and creative bartenders and cocktail creators.
Jean-Sebastien Michel, who owns Alambika, is calling the space less of a bar, and more of a laboratory for experimentation. The space will host ongoing pop-ups from professionals in the industry — the inaugural one comes from mixologist Tao Zrafi, known for putting together innovative menus for bars and restaurants like Nhau and Perles & Paddock.
“I saw that in the industry there are more and more veterans that have a lot to give but may not feel like going to bed at 5 a.m. and being estranged from their wife and kids,” says Michel, explaining the kinds of people he’s hoping to get in at Alkadémie.
To help accommodate those people, the “bar” section, Alkadémie, will only open four nights a week, and usually close around 11 p.m. (perhaps a little later if it’s busy). Pop-ups will take up residency for several weeks at a time. Zrafi’s pop-up, named Funk Populaire, will be there through August. Plus, as a bar supplier, Alambika has access to a very wide range of equipment that can enable plenty of out-of-the-box cocktails.
“The level of cocktails that Tao brings is what you’d pay $20 for in a hotel bar, but you pay $13 and enjoy the street view,” says Michel.
In September, a new pop-up will appear, Funk Boreale, aiming to showcase products and flavours from Quebec’s forests — and it’s not just the menu that’ll change, but the whole space, with new fall-centric décor. (At present, the space has a simple yet eclectic living room vibe to it.)
“We’ll stay out of cliches like putting pine everywhere; We’ll work with foragers and some specialists to get products. The decor will change to a ‘fall in Quebec’ theme, too,” says Michel.
Alkadémie isn’t just focused on alcohol — Michel says that the space will also highlight non-alcoholic options, instead of treating them as a lesser sideshow.
The Alkadémie space is tucked behind the Alambika shop — Alambika moved over to that space last September from a location in Outremont, but a slow permitting process meant that the bar space only just opened.
Michel says he won’t just use Alkadémie for the pop-up bars — he’s taking inspiration from multi-purpose spaces like Old Montreal’s Phi Centre.
“For me it’s like a sandbox, we really like to connect the dots between people.”
That means events like film screenings are in the works — a bee-themed week is planned, featuring a documentary on apiculture and cocktails featuring honey products; Michel is also hoping to stage educational events and workshops including one focused on absinthe.