Continuing on our mission to sample all of the newest additions to Gunwharf Quays, David and I found ourselves taking a wander down to The Alchemist – as a complete English buff I was initially seduced by the name (and I never say no to a cocktail.)
Alchemy is defined as ‘ a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination’ – and The Alchemist promises to conjure up just that, with the home page of the website claiming, ‘Home to masters in the dark arts of molecular mixology. Step into our world of theatre served.’
With such a promise, who could resist?
Initially founded in Manchester, The Alchemist boasts 18 locations across the UK, each of which shows off their ‘unconventional, dark and controversial’ style. They really do offer up a completely unique experience, and with a substantial menu, there is a cocktail to suit everyone.
We went on a Sunday evening, and despite the rain (and impending Monday doom); it was packed. We were shown to a table upstairs and offered complimentary still or sparkling water while we were left to peruse both the food (vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options available) and the extensive drinks menu. There was almost too much choice when it came to the drinks – they offer every type of cocktail imaginable, as well as your usual alcoholic and soft drinks for those feeling less adventurous. They are helpfully arranged by type, from’ chemistry and Theatre – Light’ (with four categories in between) to ‘Augmented Reality Cocktails’, which are sold as a complete experience, even needing an app so you are able to become fully immersed in the theatre.
Our waitress, Mia, was exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful and suggested some things for us to try based on what we liked, and when they didn’t have David’s first choice of cocktail she immediately suggested some alternatives. David wanted to make sure he got as much theatre as possible and opted for the Smokey Old Fashioned (£9), which they come and smoke for you, while I opted for the Hip Flask Colada (£13 – and you get to keep the hip flask!)
Feeling suitably quenched, we turned our attention to the food and decided to share the prawn lollipops and the chorizo and cheddar dough balls. The prawns were delicious, but I think the dough balls were a little more style over substance (you inject them yourself with the desired amount of cheese) – a lovely idea, but they were a little dry and were somewhat lacking in the cheese department.
After starter called for another cocktail, this time I opted for the ‘Bubblebath’, which included Fairy Liquid and David went for the ‘She’s Electric’ – which gives you a small electric tingle on the tongue. Mine was absolutely delicious and went down far too quickly. The mains made up for the somewhat underwhelming starter, we went for crispy pork belly and lamb rump and kofta, both of which were delicious, if a tiny bit on the small side (although with rich cocktails I think probably the ideal amount.) The meat was cooked perfectly for us both and the meals were presented to be just as aesthetically pleasing as the drinks.
We decided to end the evening with one more cocktail – it would have been rude not to – and dessert. Although we really wanted the baked Alaska (and I will be returning to try it) they were sadly sold out and so Mia suggested we sample the churros instead. They come injected with hot caramel sauce and so after impatiently waiting for them to cool down, we devoured them in seconds. They were the perfect accompaniment to our final drinks of the evening – banoffee Manhattan for me and a bubblegum mojito for him.
We will definitely be back for a return visit; David has actually booked his Christmas meal in already. If you’re looking for something a bit different, and an enjoyable night out then The Alchemist is the place for you. There is nothing else like it in the city (at least not somewhere that also offers food) and it gives Gunwharf a bit of an edge from its usual Italian and chain places. I might even book us on to one of the cocktail making experiences (or molecular mixology) for our next trip!