Forget sipping a boring cup of peppermint tea at your next mani-pedi. In the past two years there’s been a steady stream of beauty bars getting permanent alcohol licences, which makes sense when you think about it. Anything to help the trauma of an upper lip wax, right? Here’s a few local spas shaking and stirring things up for the ultimate pampering experience.The one stop shopLeading the way, Distilled Beauty Bar was the first salon in Alberta to become licensed. That came to an abrupt stop when the AGLC revoked it in 2017. That didn’t deter Distilled, whose grassroots response saw patrons clinking glasses six weeks later. But mixing booze with beauty treatments isn’t necessarily a recipe for success, says owner Lisa Maric.“You don’t just add alcohol to a beauty bar or hair salon to make it successful. That’s not the magic. You either have the environment where people want to get comfortable with their friends, or you don’t. Alcohol and services are secondary to the social component,” she says.And what a social component! Distilled is as much a community hub as it is a robust day spa, as evidenced by their loyal following. Neutral interiors — heavy on the metals and polished concrete, manage to evoke a sense of comfort for both sexes. It’s decidedly not girlie. You certainly won’t worry about spilling or breaking anything here, trust.Not all patrons, however, hit up treatments. Many don’t venture past the cafe, sipping a turmeric latte or chowing down on a robust menu that includes vegan and gluten-free options. Others amp it up with a smoked Caesar or other inventive cocktails, while perusing the boutique, an emporium of pretty and quirky objects from local artisans.On the spa side of things, there’s few treatments they don’t offer. Here, you can get waxed, lashed and lasered. It sports a full-on hair salon, plus massage therapists and licensed estheticians. And like any proper social house, there’s weekday happy hour specials at the beauty bar from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and half price bottles of wine every Thursday.
Enjoy a bubbly glass of Prosecco while getting the old toes tuned up for summer.
Justin Sullivan /
Mani-pedi mavensIt’s not like spa-goers can’t handle a pedicure without a glass of wine, but know this, once you’ve had that exquisite combination, you may experience withdrawal symptoms without. What sets Metropolish 17 apart is its laserlike focus on hair removal and digit maintenance. Situated on bustling 17th Avenue, S.W., there’s at least a dozen manicure plus pedicure stations, in addition to waxing and threading behind the scenes.While your feet soften during the pre-pedi soak, you could be sipping Prosecco, served up by the glass and in adorable mini bottles. There’s also two whites, two reds, domestic and international beer, plus Baileys to choose from. Lattes, cappuccino, teas and bottled water are complimentary. Amp up your bevies with a hummus tapas plate or individual charcuterie platter that includes a variety of cured meats, cheeses and crackers.Here, all pedicures come with nail and cuticle trimming and shaping, a sugar scrub, heel exfoliation, hot towel steam and lacquer polish. Upgrade to a silver service to receive a massage and hot stone rub. Or, go for gold with the addition of paraffin wax and a leg mud mask. In addition to natural manicures, they offer solar, acrylic, gel and powder dip. For an extra treat, add a 10-minute massage to your mani or pedi for $15. Tots in tow? Take advantage of the spa menu for children under 12.
Swizzlesticks customers can now inbibe during their beauty treatment.
Head and shoulders above the restStaying in the fickle beauty business for over 25-years means keeping up with the times, which is exactly how Swizzlesticks rolls. While their location in trendy Kensington remains the same, new product lines and services are continually added to the roster, and that includes alcohol. While the hair salon is licensed, their spa, situated mere steps away, isn’t.Luckily, they’ve incorporated mini-spa treatments into the hair salon. Customers can receive a stress-relieving scalp massage pre-hair cut, mini facial at the sink with every shampoo or makeup touch-up at the end of your service — all complimentary and with wine glass in hand (yours, not theirs).Partnering with local wine merchant Vine Styles, currently on offer are easy drinking, vegan, organic wines from Italy — a light Sangiovese, crisp Pinot Grigio and Prosecco served in retro coupe glasses. There’s Big Rock beer and Baileys for your coffee. Liquor service can’t begin until 10 a.m., so think twice before booking in early on a Saturday morning. Whenever your appointment, you’re sure to notice the buzz hasn’t yet worn off.“We’re so excited to be serving alcohol legally,” says owner Brianna Hallet. “It’s really complemented our guest experience.”But getting licensed isn’t without its challenges. For starters, no one can serve alcohol unless they have ProServe training and certification. Staff need to pay attention not only to their client’s latest dramas, but also how much alcohol they’re consuming. Legally, that’s one drink an hour. Food service must also be on offer.With Mother’s Day just around the corner, consider blowing off brunch and treating mom to something more spirited. Swizzlesticks is collaborating with Brasserie Kensington for a hair and high tea event, but you can always fall back on a manicure with Merlot.Follow Jody’s health and wellness adventures on her blog TravelswithBaggage.com or on Instagram @TravelswBaggage.