Bar review: The Alchemist, Leeds

Oliver...The Alchemist, Trinty Shopping Centre, Leeds...SH1001856a 2nd September 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

Oliver...The Alchemist, Trinty Shopping Centre, Leeds...SH1001856a 2nd September 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

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The view from the balcony at The Alchemist in the Trinity shopping complex may as well be an oil painting.

We visited on Tuesday this week to find the outside area sparsely populated and a welcome refuge on what was the hottest day of the year so far. We arrived late, about 10.30pm, so the bar was practically empty.

Oliver...The Alchemist, Trinty Shopping Centre, Leeds...SH1001856c 2nd September 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

Oliver...The Alchemist, Trinty Shopping Centre, Leeds...SH1001856c 2nd September 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

It’s a mesmerising space, allowing you seldom-seen views of the city - here, you’re on a level with the top floor at The Marriott Hotel, which stands opposite and the base of the tower of Holy Trinity Church, beyond which we glimpsed a series of rooftops and in the distance the Corn Exchange. Of course, the balcony is a great place to ‘people watch’ as you get a bird’s eye view of the street below.

The Alchemist has made a real name for itself in Leeds and deservedly so. The interior is clean and there’s a genuine sense of space here, helped by the atmosphere. On a busy night, you might struggle to get served right away but during our visit, we were attended to almost immediately.

The drinks menu here is extensive and, let’s be honest, you’re not going to come here just for a casual beer. It’s all about the cocktails, which are fabulous.

Initially, I went for Hawaiian punch, which was frothy and fruity and with a kick like a artillery gun. My partner went for an espresso Martini, which proved to be absolutely outstanding. And here’s why.

Rather than putting you to sleep, as most cocktails do, this one wakes you up. It ought to, too, as it has a full espresso shot in it. With a foam top, delicately decorated with three coffee beans, it was so good, we both decided to have another (single round costing £15.90).

The Alchemist has styled itself as some kind of modern day magician, whose origins reach back to the mysterious and perhaps mischievous Middle Ages. It’s cocktail menu, which is presented in kind of periodic table of drinks, lists ingredients such as gold, genies and magic. There’s drama too, as your cocktails are made before your very eyes and I think that’s part of the draw here, because we all love to be amazed.

However, while there is entertainment to be had in watching a muscled barman endlessly shaking a cocktail over his shoulder and then emptying the contents into a glass before expertly adding the various finishing touches and (of course) dry ice, all while maintaining zero eye contact (a real skill), after the second or third time (speaking from experience here), it becomes a bit tedious. It’s a busy place, great of an evening and the balcony is very relaxing, if not a bit sticky (menus, drinks shelf).

The Alchemist fills a niche and it certainly cast a spell over us during our visit.

FACTFILE

THE ALCHEMIST

Address: Thid Floor, Trinity

Rating 4/5

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