Sips and Scents: Brothers invent aromas in magical cocktail experience

Alexandra Shannon, Staff Writer

Most laboratories smell like chemicals, but two brothers are spinning scents of morning coffee, rain on concrete and the ocean air in their magical lab.

This is what drove brothers Aaron and Sam Wisniewski to establish Alice & The Magician cocktail apothecary in 2015, they said.

“Everything we do is predicated by that one scientific fact that 90 percent of flavor, your perception, your experience of flavor comes from aroma,” Aaron said.

One of the most important philosophies behind the brothers’ concepts and business model is finding the balance between art and science, they said.

Another powerful aspect of aromas is their connection to memory.

Because memories are unique to each person, Aaron taps into the highest quality ingredients to make a scent that transports people to a different time or place with a whiff, he said.

“It’s the only one of your senses that is directly related to your memory and emotion section of your brain,” Aaron said, “Adding aroma or compounding aroma on a drink or on food can dramatically influence your experience for the better.”

The lab where the aromas are developed and sampled is a fantasy world of smells and emotions.

The Pine Street space is small, quiet and minimalist. Stools line the gray wood-paneled bar. The room offers an immediate sense of calm and dreaminess.

Shelves are lined with glass bottles of mists and elixirs, plants hang from the ceiling, equations are scrawled on a chalkboard behind the bar and various flasks and beakers sit among other official lab equipment.

The lab is open for tastings by appointment.

One scent “Chocolate Birthday Cake” had notes of thick, creamy chocolate that was reminiscent of only the best birthday parties.

For Aaron, “Chocolate Birthday Cake” will always hold a place in his heart.

“I wasn’t allowed to have chocolate until my seventh birthday, so that’s my personal scent memory for chocolate birthday cake,” Aaron said.

Jumping from the sugary whiffs of chocolate to the crisp, sharp and smoky smell of ‘Autumn Fire’ brought up years of memories.

‘Andalucia’s Cilantro Garden’ smelled like freshly picked cilantro sparking notes of guacamole and salsa fresca.

“Grapefruit,” “Rosemary and Honey” and “Hiking the Long Trail” offer savory scents of pine forest and ferns reminiscent of summer hikes through Vermont’s winding trails.

Although the aromatic mists pair excellently with spirits, the brothers are adamant that one of the best parts about the mists is that they can be paired with lots of liquids, alcoholic or not.

There are no boundaries when it comes to the magic that aromatics have to offer.  

“There’s no wrong answer. Just experiment,”  Aaron said.