The team behind Wizard's Den is back at it with a newly themed experience. Spanning two floors at the Vancouver Alpen Club, this boozy (family-friendly also) affair offers Alice in Wonderland-themed shenanigans in multiple seatings a day. Sure it's a little hokey but that's the appeal of escapism – to immerse yourself in a new world, albeit temporarily. Let me take you through 90 minutes of The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience so that you know what kind of programming, immersion, and value to expect.
Disclosure: I attended a media preview for this event which I did not pay for. All opinions are my own.
The entire 90-experience includes the following:
- Waiting Area/Bar
- Welcome Ceremony
- Cocktail Mixing
- Cookie Time + Wonderland Mafia
- Cocktail Rose Painting
The waiting area is simply a holding chamber while guests fall through the rabbit hole (i.e. the front door). Once tickets are scanned, guests are guided in to The Red Tart Bar where cocktails beyond the prescribed ones for the event can be purchased. Once you walk up the stairs to the second floor, you'll be shown to a table. If you're a party of 2, you might be paired up with another couple as each table fits 4.
The welcome ceremony is an introduction to the Mad/Green Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Red Hare, who collectively are your hosts for the night. They serve out the welcome cocktail which is a very fruity shooter with whipped cream on top. They will also hand out the riddle cards to every party. The 3 riddles are presented in random order so as not to overload guests at a single riddle station. Clever design.
The riddling part of the night is a mix of listening, logic, and problem-solving. Compared to the Wizard's Den these were a little easier to solve but not a walk in the park especially if you're bad at wordplay. As your 3 riddles are solved you'll be directed to spots in the room to retrieve your cocktail ingredients. Finally, you'll mix your cocktail ingredients into a teapot and pour yourself a pretty boozy cocktail into the supplied teacups.
There is a small intermission between cocktails where "Eat Me" cookies are served. I was randomly given an additional cookie though it wasn't a random act of kindness. We engaged in a 1-round game of mafia where those given an additional cookie were directed to eliminate other guests from the game. The game lasted only one round so don't get too invested in sussing out your killers. I didn't even survive the first round of accusations.
Enough time passes and the next cocktail is passed out with instructions to paint a rose-shaped design onto the foamy top of the cocktail using chocolate syrup. The Queen of Hearts would then choose the best "cocktail art" and award them a prize. The prize wasn't fully disclosed but I'm guessing it was another drink. This was a pretty hard task given the paint brushes were so tiny but this was a fun homage to the famous rose-painting scene of the original story.
With the awarding of the best rose painting, the programming concludes and guests are welcome to take more photos in the room before exiting the second room. What's nice about this event space is there is another bar downstairs so you're really feeling the wonderland vibes you can hang out at the Red Tart Bar until they shut down.
The immersion is very deep at The Alice. You wouldn't even know you were in a German-themed event space. I loved the decor and how they paid homage to the original story. Obviously you have pieces of the cheshire cat pushing through walls but even smaller details like the cage bird and "drink me" vials are part of the event area.
The programming was just as immersive. The hosts all stayed in character – multiple characters actually. Some of them double-dipped and made time for costume changes throughout the event. Each costume was a positive contribution to the experience.
One thing to note is that there isn't really any food available during these sessions. The "Eat Me" cookie is nothing to write home about so make sure you eat beforehand since you won't be eating during the session.
About that $46 ticket. Comparatively, it costs $9-$16 for cocktails in Vancouver depending on how fancy you get. Three alcoholic drinks then at The Alice feels fair since you are also paying for the programming and the pop-up operation. The cocktails for the most part were tasty, drawing in lots of citrus, lavender, and cherry notes.
Your enjoyment of this event comes down to expectations. If you've been thirsty for a Mad Hatter tea party, or you want to drink in a totally different environment, this is a guided 90-minute cocktail-brewing exercise for you to fall through the rabbit hole and come out after a bit of exploration.
One-liner: Fully immersive, two floored Mad Hatter experience
Highlight: Exploring the Alice in Wonderland-themed room
Price per person: $46.50
Would I go back? Yes.
Tickets are available at https://explorehidden.com/event/details/the-alice-an-immersive-cocktail-experience-vancouver-1553742