Friday, 5 June 2015


Everyone loves a cocktail! Boy I know that I do and having stumbled across the Alchemist New York Street smack bang in the centre of Manchester online and seeing the fabulous concoctions they serve I knew I had to give them a go. With a menu of delicious sounding food also on offer would it be a case of too much style of substance. It was time to find out!

We approached the Alchemist on a wet and windy Monday evening. I had walked past here before and it looked packed however I think the shocking weather was keeping people away as it was a lot more quieter. As we were half and hour early for our table reservation we headed street to the bar and got straight onto the cocktail menu.

Looking around I could already see an array of wonders being served to other excited looking customers. Smoking drinks served in chemistry bottles and large bubbling drinks served in science apparatus in was like stepping into Willy Wonkas chocolate factory and I was already giddy with anticipation.

Not that the decor conveys the feeling of a modern science lab. In fact it was more like stepping into a mishmash of the old and new with vintage furniture and wooden table tops sitting underneath exposed light bulbs. It gives sense of old Victorian style but with a modern and very sophisticated edge that brings it rocketing into the 21st century without feeling stuffy or too quirky that it feels gimmicky.

The bar area is the hub of the Alchemist and is certainly is where all the magic happens. The menu of cocktails can be overwhelming on first glance and you may be slightly put off by price but these are proper cocktails and defiantly worth it. No cheeky vimtos in large plastic martini glasses here we are talking about the real deal!

My first choice was the bubble bath and I defiantly got some of that alchemist "magic". This gin and Chambord creation was fruity and sweet with a hint of sherbety fizz and a small tablet in the base of the glass created a mountain of bubbles which froth all the way out of the glass and didn't stop until the very last drop was drank. It was defiantly a spectacle and had that wow factor not just in its appearance but also in taste. My top choice if your not sure which cocktail to go with first.

My second choice was a chocolate orange sazersc. This is a proper grown ups cocktail! Defiantly one for those who like to taste the booze in their beverages, this whiskey and Cointreau delight certainly packs a punch with its sweet tangy orange kick and hint of chocolate just licking your taste buds. A perfect choice for finishing off a meal but don't have too many or you will be getting picked up off the floor later that evening (I wasn't I promise! *might be telling lies*). 

Lacking the visual impact of its friends but still incredibly inventive is the Flavor Changing cocktail. I have no idea how they do this but it does indeed change flavor as you drink it. I got hints of berries followed by mint and even some sherbet. It really is baffling but so intriguing and I'm its something that I can say I haven't seen or experienced anywhere else on my travels. Can't decide on a flavor of cocktail from the vast choice on offer then get a bit of everything with this one.

Finally we went with the screwball. This one with its bubblegum blue appearance is a good pick if you like your thick and creamy liquors such as baileys or Tia Maria. This raspberry, blue Curacao and white chocolate cocktail served with squirty cream does what it's description says and puts an adult spin on an old childhood favorite. Treat your inner child to this one but again I would say it's best drunk with dessert with its sweetness.

It was time to take to our table. Now if I do have to say one thing about the Alchemist is that whilst the atmosphere is very chilled out and relaxed its still a bit wrong to have to wait 20 minutes for our food order to be taken. Don't get me wrong I love a laid back approach to life but when your craning your neck to find a server then something is amiss. When our server did arrive he did apologies for the wait however having seen a few similar comments online I do think it might be a little issue they need to address just to make the experience a ten out of ten.

The food on offer at the Alchemist is a mix of top notch British favorites as well as a couple of treats from around the globe. I actually preferred the look of the "Tapatizers" rather than the main so I went and ordered a trio of these for myself whilst my buddy when for a steak (sans chips - she's watching the carbs!).

My first "Tapatizer" were the pork scratching. Now, growing up in a pub I love a good scratching so to see them on a restaurant menu rather than stapled to the back of a bar was intriguing. I can confirm they were defiantly a cut above. Striking the balance between soft and crispy, the apple and sage dipping sauce was the perfect match. I could of happily sat and munched away on these all day!

Next came my salt and pepper chicken wings. I always think one of the good tests for a restaurant is the quality of there chicken wings and the alchemists get the thumbs up. I went for salt and pepper wings, a flavor you don't tend to see outside of Asian restaurants and they were cooked really well. Meat falling off the bone, the balance of the salt and pepper was just right.

The star of my trio however were the beer battered prawn lollipops. Presented in a quirky way with a delicious sweet chilli dipping sauce I was in love at my first bite. The batter was thin and crispy and the prawns so plump that they just exploded with flavor in my mouth. If you are going to just pick one starter then make this your choice if your a prawn fan and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Onto to my buddies steak which was of an ample size and served perfectly well done as requested (not my choice - my mate is clearly a steak philistine!). It was great to see her request for it to be served without chips being met with no quarrels. It's a credit to a restaurant when they will make changes to a meal so easily and I can say that the alchemist gets a tick in that box. The herb butter over the top melted and it was just a pleasure to look at and she loved it! Must try one next time I'm here!

With full bellies and feeling a little bit tipsy it was time to depart from the Alchemist and all in all we had a fabulous visit. The cocktails are the true stars of the show. The mystery and visual impact of the ones we tried were backed up by the stunning flavours and add to this the tasty food and the interesting surroundings and you have a totally unique concept that I would defiantly come back too.

There is magic behind the doors of the Alchemist so head to any of their branches in Manchester, Leeds or London and prepared to mesmerized! 

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