In its 20 years in business, Alchemy has always offered “really good cocktails.” That’s how Alchemy’s beverage manager Meaghan Hughes remembers it — freshly 21, visiting the Island for a summer turned to fall, winter, and spring. Okay, maybe one more summer — and one more fall. And so the cycle continues. Ring a bell, anyone?
Alchemy is a year-round staple, located in the heart of downtown Edgartown. Founded in 1999 by owners Scott and Charlotte Caskey, the business was sold, and mindfully so, to Todd Dagres in 2018. But Scott and Charlotte stuck around for one year, “to ease the transition for everybody, you know?” Meaghan said. We know.
In a town where there are few vital signs of life after Christmas, Alchemy has offered Edgartown 20 years of consistent, reliable, and delicious evenings out, no matter the season. Alchemy’s regulars expect their comfort food and go-to drinks, and its menu respects and reflects that.
But we’re here to talk about cocktails, and no better person than Meaghan to take us down the list — she wrote it, after all.
Meaghan joined Alchemy in 2014. She’s the wine and events director, and knows how to hint at change without flipping tradition on its back. During one of her first seasons, she looked at the cocktail list — which was relatively limited at the time — and thought, Hey, can we make this bigger?
“There were things I couldn’t take off the list,” she said. “People would revolt.” But Meaghan knew she could try out some trends and seasonal specials without ruffling too many feathers.
Coming off the heels of summertime, Alchemy’s Famous Mojito was a bestseller. “It’s everybody’s number one,” Meaghan said before she disappeared to the back and returned with a handful of mint. “We absolutely fly through this stuff,” she said. She muddled the vibrant green and aromatic leaves, followed by precise pours of fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and Cruzam amber rum, topped with a splash of soda water and garnished with a lemon and a stick of sugar cane. Fresh, tart, light, and like summer in a glass. Hang on to this one if winter times get tough — it’ll trick your tastebuds into warmer days.
Alchemy’s Famous Mojito
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. Cruzan amber rum
Muddle the mint in the glass, add all ingredients and top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon and swizzle stick (or sugar cane).
The cool front from fall’s Northeast winds is a transition for many, but it’s also a time to slow down, catch up, and venture to town. Like all the other year-round restaurants on the Island, Alchemy looks forward to seeing its regulars — Meaghan looks forward to experimenting with seasonal cocktails.
In its fourth fall on the menu, the Conundrum has become a seasonal favorite — an autumn addition locals look forward to every year. “It’s called the Conundrum because you taste it, and you have no idea what’s in it,” Meaghan said. She juggled a medley of bottles, knowing just how much to add like it was second nature. “After years and years and years of bartending, it just stays with you forever,” Meaghan said. She’s been a bartender for 11 years and first learned during a stint managing Sharky’s.
“I forgot how tasty this was,” she said as she slid over a salt-rimmed glass filled with the pale tangerine blend. It tasted fruity like grapefruit with a balance of ginger, but I couldn’t have humored a real guess as to what was in it. Luckily, Meaghan let us in on the secret.
1 slice of orange
1 oz. ginger puree
2 Luxardo cherries and 1 tsp. cherry juice
2 oz. Sauza Hornitos Reposado
½ oz. Cointreau
1 oz. orange juice
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. lemon juice
Muddle the fruit then add the rest of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the salted glass and garnish with a lime.
Something tried and true
If any cocktail could embody a bulky knit sweater and long chats by the fire, it’s the Espresso Martini. At Alchemy, it’s a staple, and best enjoyed in the lounge upstairs by the fireplace — although it pairs well just about anywhere.
The recipe calls for a Stoli vanilla vodka base, then Kahlua and Frangelico, which “rounds it out” and “adds a subtle nutty flavor,” Meaghan told us. House-made espresso syrup comes next — a blend of espresso, Brandy, and sugar. The concentrated blend keeps the martini from tasting bitter or watered down, Meaghan said. She shook the cocktail shaker with rigor and poured a dark, thick blend into a martini glass. The liquid settled into a light, earthy brown, trimmed with a delicate, frothy head. She garnished the glass with three espresso beans — each placed just so. The Espresso Martini joins the French Quarter and the Koi Pond in the “Tried and True” section of the cocktail list, representing the eons of Alchemy that’ll outlive us all.
2 oz. Stoli Vanil
¾ oz. Kahlua
¾ oz. Frangelico
¾ oz. espresso syrup
Shake hard with ice and serve in a cocktail glass, garnish with espresso beans. It should have a thick, frothy head.
Brittany Bowker is a reporter and editor at the MV Times.