The Alchemist, Birmingham

My best friend Lydia and I visited The Alchemist while we were studying in Birmingham as part of our search for cocktail hot spots and we certainly found a winner. We went on a Sunday afternoon around 5pm so wasn’t expecting it to be massively busy, however it was very lively inside, it could have easily been a Saturday night. The decor is quirky and creates a rustic, backstreet atmosphere, as though were are down a quaint street in Carnaby Street. The capitalize on the theme of science and present themselves as cocktail chemists. We approached the bar and grabbed a menu which was consistent with the theme, mimicking the periodic table which was certainly eye catching.

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The bar staff were really friendly and helpful, they offered recommendations and were happy to answer any questions. I stuck to a porn star martini (I am boring like that) but they still made the classic its own; they dipped the passion fruit in sugar and caramelized it with a gas torch which was cool to watch. The prosecco was served in a lab jar which again was consistent with the theme of the place, as though it was some kind of scientific super lab for cocktails.

Lydia had a “Red Dead Zombie” which was barcadi, lime, pineapple, cranberry and “zombie mix” served in a round bottom chemistry flask and come out smoking, which then is poured ourselves into the iced glass with mint. It tasted really good and its presentation was impressive, as well as only £9.25, putting my £10.75 pornstar martini to shame.

We also tried a “Lightbulb Moment” which was Tanqueray gin, pimms, ginger beer, raspberry, lemon and mint. This was actually our favourite although it probably had an acquired taste. The ginger beer was a poignant flavour so if you’re not keen on it I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you are this cocktail was a treat. It was served in a tall glass with fresh raspberries and a straw and was £8.25 which we thought was pretty reasonable. A lot of time and effort clearly goes into making the drinks and they are good quality, so the fact their prices are in line with or even below spots such as Be At One or Slug and Lettuce puts The Alchemist miles ahead of them. The quirky selling point and impressive presentation also sets them apart and would actually make you expect to pay more.

We had to wait around 10 minutes for some people to leave so we could sit down with our drinks in the bar area. There was a separate area on the ground floor and cellar floor for customers who were dining and it seemed a lot less busy in these areas, so perhaps book a table for some nibbles if you want a more relaxed, seated experience. If this was late one Sunday evening I imagine a Friday or Saturday night would be considerably busier.

If you’re visiting Birmingham for the weekend this is a perfect spot for pre drinks for a night out or post dinner drinks. The food looked good so it could be a spot to eat in too, although the menu wasn’t extensive.

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