Alchemy: “A seemingly miraculous power or process of changing a thing into something better.”
For the literal-minded among us: No, they won’t be changing lead into gold in the Alchemy Gardens at the Life Is Beautiful festival this weekend. But they will be changing things into something better.
The Alchemy Gardens will, like most of the rest of the festival, have a number of facets. One is mixology.
“It’s what you can do with tequila,” says Kevin Roberts, senior vice president of Wirtz Beverage Nevada, which is sponsoring the gardens at the festival from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. “Or vodka, which is a bland, boring spirit: what you can do to make the art come out.”
The overarching purpose of the gardens, he says, is education, and to that end around 40 “activations” have been planned.
“The Alchemy Gardens is really an opportunity to lend a different dimension to the Life Is Beautiful festival,” Roberts says. “It’s an opportunity for all festivalgoers to experience brands differently than they every did before.”
And in some cases, “brand” is used loosely.
“You can learn about all the pinot noirs on the West Coast, from Oregon to California, how they’re nurtured,” Roberts says. “It’s unlike anything you would be able to do unless you got in the car, started in the Pac Northwest and stopped at every winery on the way down.”
They’re bringing farmers from Mexico to participate in the tequila activation, he says, as well as the pina, or heart, of the blue agave plant.
“We’ll actually show people how they do it,” he says. “It’s not just about sampling the brand, it’s how the brands are grown and how they’re handmade.”
Roberts says brown spirits are enjoying a resurgence, especially among Millennials, which has led to an increased interest in craft cocktails. And so there will be activation focused on that.
“With all of the different booths or setups, you could spend a full day and not even hit all of the activations going on because of the engagement,” Roberts says.
Getting it all together, he says, has been difficult.
“We’ve tasked teams inside of Wirtz, paired up with our suppliers as well as the Life Is Beautiful lead,” he says. “Between all three, they’ve really mapped out a good strategy — the activation elements, the engagement with the consumers. You’re not going to see all of the brands that you would normally see in a grocery store. These will be artisanal, boutique brands that we think will fit the feel of the festival.”
But even if you’re not a hard-core spirits aficionado, he says, the Alchemy Gardens will have elements for you.
“We’ll have beverage educators from around the world,” he says, “on how to host their own parties at home, pair wine with food, how they can make their own cocktails without being an expert mixologist.
“It’s really about satisfying the consumers and giving them what they want — knowledge. The days of you and I going to a bar and getting something because it’s on special are over.”
The Alchemy Gardens are included with festival admission for those 21 and older; beer, wine, spirits and sake will be available for sale.
Another facet of the gardens is flight tastings, with master brewers, winemakers and distillers presiding. Those are $40 for nine tastings (with festival admission), and are available during Alchemy Gardens hours.
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at email@example.com or 702-383-0474.