Yeferson Avila Rodriguez and Jean Trinh
Words by Sammy Hemmings and Yeferson Avila Rodriguez and Jean Trinh
Photography by Havana Club
Yeferson and Jean are the duo behind cocktail bar Alquímico in the city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. "We opened Alquímico as a cocktail bar in 2016 with an initial budget of 15,000 dollars, a six-member staff and a 120m² rental space," they say. "Our plan was to become the best high volume bar of Colombia, and later: the best in the world."
Since 2016, the pair have been committed to environmentally-friendly practices, and have established projects outside the bar to spearhead benefits to the community. Not only do they provide job opportunities for inexperienced young people, the pair champion education. Staff training at Alquímico includes development through customer service, as well as agricultural work in the Colombian countryside.
The duo established the Alquímico farm located in Filandia, Quindio, with the aim to support farmers. "We sow seeds to be later harvested so we can process all the different products that later they'll become what we sell in the bar," they say. The farm is also their base for other upcoming initiatives, including beekeeping, a reforestation project and a smart irrigation system.
The bar's commitment to sustainability grew from a shared passion. "Back in 2014, when I was 20, I met Jean in the middle of this beautiful profession, where we agreed on different concepts and ideas, at that moment we decided to join forces with a common goal," Yeferson explains. "I come from a family that always has worked with agriculture and selling the products in local market places, this is where my love for farm products was born and kept growing when I saw the huge diversity we have all year long."
While it's not only financial success that drives the Alquímico bar owners, but a drive to support their local community and environment. "We continue working to generate growth and a positive impact in our environment," Yeferson says. "At the same time I continue my social-entrepreneur path that inspires more people to join our movement."
"When I made the decision to move to Colombia in 2013 with almost nothing, my goal was to create a clean and wealthy business, and support local talents. Four years after the opening of Alquímico, I feel that it went further than my expectations," Jean explains.
Alquímico has become a leading light in the Colombian bar scene, ranking 47th in the World's 50 Best Bars list 2020. "Starting with six staff members four years ago, we are very proud to say that today the team is made up of more than 50 young and creative talents, voted between the best 10 Bar Teams and High Volume Bars in the world in 2020 by Tales of The Cocktails," Jean says.
And it is the pair's ethos, centred on eco-friendly practices and togetherness, that shines. "Now I try to give back to Colombia what it has given to me," Jeans says. "Hospitality, prosperity and social entrepreneurship."