The Alchemist cocktail bar and restaurant in Birmingham has now been open for the best part of a year, and they’ve certainly been a popular option with both after-work-drinkers and weekend-socialisers during this time. Now that they’ve established themselves, the bar has introduced a few new drinks to their extensive cocktail menu, and myself and a few other local bloggers were invited down to try them. You’ll still find the theatrical, dry-ice crowd pleasers that the Alchemist are so well known for – however, according to our bartender, the new drinks have been created to deliver on taste, rather than gimmicks. Read on to find if we found this to be the case!
My first choice of the evening was the Going Menthol, a rum based drink with white mint, maraschino, lime and ‘alchemist toothpaste’. I chose this cocktail as I hadn’t seen anything similar on any menu before, and I can confirm, I’d never tasted anything like it either. I wanted minty and I got minty – the kind that clears your airways and, in my case, makes you sneeze. The ‘Alchemist toothpaste’ was an actual tube of a sugary, mint concoction, that apparently was also alcoholic, and which the bartender told me to take a suck from before each sip. This addition I suppose is quite fun, but it didn’t add anything to the taste and I felt a little weird sat in a swanky bar casually sucking from a tube… Overall though, a tasty and different cocktail – and one that had the added bonus of freshening my breath!
When it came to choosing my second drink, I had to consider what my palette was now ready for. After having a sip of Helen’s Rhubarb and Custard Sour (pictured above), I realise I had just made a similar kind of school boy error to drinking orange juice straight after mouth wash. So, I played it safe and went for the Mint Aero. Keeping with the mint and rum theme, this short drink was a mixture of Appleton signature rum, Briottet white mint, apple, chocolate and creamy malt. I particularly liked this drink as it was a sweet, dessert style option without actually having any cream or milk in. The malt made for a silky smooth drink without it being too sickly or heavy.
Next up I asked the bartender to surprise me – unsurprisingly, he opted to create the most dramatic when it comes to presentation (why not, they look pretty darn fun to make), the Lightbulb Moment. Having tried one of these on a previous visit, I knew it was more than just a good choice for style – this drink also has substance. Served in a spherical flask (which gives me no choice but to grace my blog with my toe-thumbs), this drink is handed over to the customer still bubbling and billowing with dry ice, for them to then pour in to a regular glass. The taste however is not compromised – a beautiful fruity gin based cocktail with a fiery kick from the ginger beer.
For my final drink I moved on to the Kaleing Me Softly, a mocktail made with apple juice, kale, mint and elderflower. I’m not big on experimenting with green juices – but this was truly delicious. This non-alcoholic recipe certainly didn’t feel like a menu after-thought, but instead wouldn’t have been out of place in a fancy juice bar or health cafe. The presentation was a little too flamboyant for me – nobody wants to draw attention to the fact that they’ve opted for the healthy green mocktail in a cocktail bar – but this was certainly forgiven for such a refreshing, well-balanced taste.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the drinks on offer at the alchemist. I had originally been of the thinking that this bar was a little more interested in the presentation wow-factor than the flavour of the drinks themselves – but now having had a great cocktail masterclass experience and a second proper try of their menu, I’m definitely being won over! The service on the evening was also top-notch, so a huge thank you to everyone at the Alchemist for having us!