The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience Sends Torontonians Down the Rabbit Hole

Toronto Guardian recently had the chance to check out The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience, a travelling “immersive drinks night” that doubles as a surefire Instagram magnet.

Toronto’s Alice – there are at least forty others on right now, in Vancouver, and Houston, and Sheffield, and Melbourne, and so many more cities across the globe – takes place in the back room of luxury goods shop/café Thirty-Six Knots, near Summerhill Station. Beautifully redecorated in a not-Disney-but-not-not-Disney aesthetic, the “Wonderland” of the Alice cocktail experience does a great job of immersing guests. The attention to detail, from the playing cards, threaded along the ceiling, to the mannequin Alice’s legs dropping down the “rabbit hole” (the café ceiling), to the sly nods to figures and places from the Lewis Carroll novels, all come together to really make you feel like you’re stepping out of the mundane and into the extraordinary.

The event itself, involving some fairly straightforward riddle-solving and the crafting of a couple amusingly magical cocktails, is mostly fun, though some of the scripted performances – there are actors dropping in and out as the Red Queen, the March Hare, and so on – tend a little bit silly and draw you out of the illusion.

The Alice

The Alice cocktail evening lasts approximately an hour and a half, during which attendees will solve riddles, interact with boisterous actors taking on various roles in the Wonderland universe, and mix up some delightfully gimmicky cocktails.

First, the good: the first step through the faux-forested archway into Wonderland at the back of Thirty-Six Knots is quite fun. It would be a leap to say you feel “transported”, but there’s a fun little rush you get from letting the world fall away and entering a lovingly decorated mini-Wonderland. We actually wished the experience gave us more time to just browse all the neat little decorations and trinkets spread around the room, though the scripted events start right away.

Also good: the riddles. The riddles are fun, silly things, requiring you to unpack clues handed out on paper menus that then direct you to certain actors to solve the puzzle. Upon solving, you obtain one of the ingredients, a small magic potion-looking vial, to mix together in the teacup back at your table. (Happily, each Alice group/couple gets its own table, so you don’t have to worry about solving clues or mixing drinks with strangers.)

Even better: the cocktails themselves. While definitely on the sweet side, the two cocktails you wind up “concocting” each have a suitable dose of magic in them. Working with dry ice, a paintbrush dipped in melted chocolate, and plenty of froth, you and your party will have a grand ole time putting together quite aesthetically pleasing drinks. Again, Alice was made for Instagram.

The Alice

Now, the not-so-good (there will be no ugly, I promise): for most of its duration, the writing in Alice veers from annoying to awful. And even though billed as a 19+ experience, I was further disappointed at the occasional crudeness of some of the dialogue. Generally, I felt sorry for the actors, who were saddled with lame banter, terrible Lady Gaga jokes, a tiresome amount of lazy double entendres (do you find the word cocktail funny? Are you twelve years old?), and all sorts of silliness which felt very out of place in the otherwise magical environment. I have no objection to deliberately adult revisionist takes on Wonderland, but those require a different aesthetic and wittier humour than the Alice cocktail event delivered.

That said, The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience is still overall a fun time. The puzzles are fun and not too challenging. The refashioned café is delightful. The drinks are tasty and very pretty, and it’s neat that you get to mix them yourselves. Grab your tickets now… before you’re too late! too late! for a very important date!


The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience tickets can be purchased here.