Montreal has always been known for its gastronomy. Internationally renowned chefs and restaurants have been the pride of the city for many years. So why did the cocktail community struggle until recently?
Establishing cocktails in the dining culture as rich as Montreal’s should not have been difficult, but something was missing.
In my humble opinion, the bartenders were ready and the support for the community simply wasn’t reciprocated.
Let me explain; chefs have restaurant supplies store where they can get all the fancy and specific tools they need to carry out their magic. They have food suppliers that deliver to the restaurants door. Trendy new products abound! A handful of lucky chefs even have the time to visit growers and farmers themselves.
With the rise of the second “golden age” of drinks, it is logical that bartenders would have the same support. Sadly this wasn’t the case in Montreal of old.
I remember that it was around 2 years ago that the community heard about this new store, specialised in fine drinking supplies named Alambika. I rushed to give it a try. When I walked in I could tell that the person who owned this place was a real passionate beverage person; wine cellars, all types of glassware, funny gadgets for the home imbibers, Japanese knives and even few fine bar tools.
That guy, Jean-Sébastien Michel, was behind the small counter. We had a great talk and I introduced him to our small bartenders community through our Facebook Group. Other fellow bartenders and I convinced him that there would definitely be a huge market for more bartending tools, ingredients and gadgets of all kind. It was all up to him to show us what he was about.
He didn’t disappoint us in the least!
Alambika now has a larger choice of products for professional bartenders than any other store in the province of Quebec. It competes with Cocktail Kingdom for the amount of bar tools and books for the same price and you don’t have to pay and wait for the shipping (and you have a real friendly time in the store too, with a tasting or two).
Almost fifty different bitters always on hand, Tiki mugs and bowls, Absinth fountains, etc.
A real Bartenders Candy shop, I need to transfer money from my bank account to limit myself every time I go there.
And it doesn’t even stop at tools.
Alambika has seized the cocktail movement in Quebec so well that it is now providing help for bartenders that represent the community through contest and competitions such as DIAGEO Worldclass, Bols Around The World and Made With Love.
Alambika, and owner Jean-Sébastien Michelare, are also working with local glass blowers, blacksmiths and woodworkers to create unique products like mixing glasses, Champagne sabres and wood mallets that would make Steve Schneider from EO proud.
You really don’t have any reason not to go – Alambika is here to stay, whether you are in Montreal or Online.
All pictures are courtesy of Jean-Sébastien Michel (owner of Alambika – yeah, he takes great pictures also…what a man)
Here is a quick cocktail inspired by Alambika. The rare RedEye bitters adorns this Maple Old Fashioned.
60 ml Bulleit Rye
15 ml Maple syrup
3 dashes Red Eye Bitter from the Miracle Mile Bitters