BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
At Alchemy, graduated cylinders and Erlenmeyer flasks get as much use as traditional shakers, strainers, jiggers, and spoons. “I’m always reading about the science of alcohol and the science of beers,” says owner Logan Hunter, a long-time bartender and self-described science geek. “I like figuring out how and why things are going to pair well, based on their chemical constructs.”
The Bloomington native has certainly had practice. After moving to New York City in 2001 to pursue an acting career,
Hunter, 36, made ends meet working in kitchens and bars. Observing bartenders at the famous Death & Co bar in Manhattan drove him to improve. “It was like watching a well-rehearsed ballet,” Hunter says. “I saw them doing what I did, only 100 times better and 100 times more in-depth, intense, and well-studied.”
Pivoting his career to bartending, Hunter started making a name for himself. A Columbia University newspaper article credited him with making the best mojito in New York City. “It said, ‘When you walk in, look for the guy who has all the weird eyedroppers and spray bottles,’” he recalls. “‘Look for the alchemist and ask him to make you a mojito.’ People started walking into the bar and asking, ‘Hey, are you the alchemist?’” The moniker stuck.
Hunter returned to Bloomington in 2012 hoping to establish his own bar. It took a few years, but in March he opened Alchemy inside the now-renovated Princess Theatre at 206 N. Walnut. There, Hunter and staff craft cocktails with artistry and precision.
There are Corpse Revivers, smoked William Wallaces, and more—none meant for guzzling.
Hunter offers up a list of 10 Commandments for Alchemy patrons. Among them: “All chugging, shots, and bombs are restricted.”
There is also a suggestion to keep electronic usage to a minimum, and another to keep conversations polite: “Thou shall keep all talk of politics, religion, and sports civil. No aggressive negotiations.”
As for food, look for small plates inspired by Southern Italy and the Mediterranean. Lake Hubbard, formerly of The Uptown Cafe, is executive chef. “I spoke with Lake and his father, Michael Cassady, who owns The Uptown, about having him come work for me,” Hunter says. “Michael was really excited. He knew Lake would have more creative freedom to express himself in a new place.”
Alchemy is open daily from 4 p.m.–2 a.m. For details, visit aboutalchemy.com.
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