The one thing everybody knows about alchemy is that it involved a lot of misguided attempts at turning lead into gold. So perhaps it doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being a precursor to proper scientific disciplines like chemistry. Alchemy is also a distant cousin of mixology, that vitally important field of human endeavour which has enriched so many of our lives. At least, that’s the impression a visit to The Alchemist may leave you with.
The Alchemist’s décor is a curious mix of the luxe and the pharmacological: old chemist’s flasks and scales share shelve space with martini glasses and bottles of mysterious provenance, implying a link between the two fields; pictures of Einstein and the periodic table make the claim to a relationship more explicit. But unlike the cool and eerie Croft Institute, the Alchemist certainly couldn’t be described as medical themed: it’s too romantically over the top for that. The walls are painted and papered in gold, and the furniture is a baroque clutter of ornately-carved armchairs, chaise longues and long red-and-gold upholstered couches. The lighting is permanently turned down low, and candles burn in large elaborate candelabras encrusted with wax drippings.
A long wine list covers both new and old world vintages, and even a handful of fortifieds. The spirit selection is large and highly varied, with over thirty varieties of whiskey alone, but what The Alchemist does best is cocktails. They’ll whip up more or less anything you care to ask for, but it’s well worth checking out some of the specialty concoctions devised in-house. In honour of winter’s approach a range of hot cocktails has just been rotated onto the menu, including week-old mulled pear cider and the decadent Gentleman’s Blazer.
A tapas-style menu offers a variety of snacks small and large to accompany the libations; magicians perform table-side magic on Wednesday evenings, and there are jazz performances on Tuesday and Thursday nights.