Braddon’s newest cocktail bar, Alcove, will be “one of the great establishments in Canberra” if co-owners Ricky Liau and Kenny Tse have their way.
The two met working at Monster Kitchen and Bar, where Ricky was food and beverage manager and Kenny was head chef. They both have extensive backgrounds in hospitality, locally and overseas.
When the idea for Alcove was seeded about a year ago, the goal was to pair cocktails with canapes and make the bar and the kitchen one.
“The vision started from a menu that Kenny and I did back at Monster,” Ricky says.
“We had a set menu, and the opener was a cocktail and a tuna tataki. The response was so good that we thought we could try to do a cocktail and canapes pairing because we can pinpoint different flavours.
“We asked ourselves, ‘what if we put the bartender and the chef in the same space? What would they create?’ and we designed a kitchen and bar together in the same space, merging the two departments together.”
This translated into an incubator for culinary-cocktail wizardry.
“From there, everything snowballed. He could be browning butter and think of an idea for my side. Or, I could be making a cocktail and think of an idea for his side.”
Traditionally, the kitchen closes well before the bar does, but there will be no ‘last call on food’ at Alcove. The kitchen closes at 1 am in line with the bar and the pair hope this will enable them to fill the void of late-night dining in Braddon.
For an idea that’s new and unique within the Canberra market, the owners have been pleasantly surprised by the initial responses from guests.
“It’s been amazing. We were a little bit overwhelmed. We didn’t know that Canberra would jump right onto it,” Ricky says.
“We haven’t had any bad reviews yet, thank God, and people seem to really love it for an idea that’s quite fresh to the market.”
Alcove operates with a set menu where guests can choose from two options – $75 for three cocktails and three canapes, or the full $142 experience of six cocktails and six canapes, plus a palate-cleanser.
“We are constantly exploring new combinations, new techniques and new flavours,” Ricky says.
“It’s something where you can’t run out of ideas and we’ll change our menu every six months.”
Ricky and Kenny say while patrons may leave Alcove with a full stomach, it is a modern cocktail bar and not a restaurant – an important distinction.
Their hope is for growth, ultimately into something that can sit quite comfortably among the greats in a city with much to offer the discerning palate.
“I think in three to five years, we’d like to grow a lot more in terms of how we operate and how it might evolve,” Ricky says.
“We are trying to force ourselves to evolve and explore a lot more. We really want to be one of the great establishments in Canberra.”
Alcove is located at 105/16 Lonsdale St, Braddon – online bookings are available now for the Pairing Experience; Cocktails & Canapés by walk-in only. Alcove is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 pm to 1:00 am.