My first, and previously only, interaction with The Alchemist was shortly after it first opened a few years ago.
It was a busy Saturday evening and I was turned away by the doorman due to the sartorial crime of wearing trainers. Being a lover of danger and excitement, I chose to try my luck once more with my scruffy New Balances on a Monday evening and, low and behold, I was allowed in. Maybe now I could see what all the fuss was about.
The furniture exudes a kind-of bronzed art deco vibe that looks particularly pleasing during the Boar Lane sunsets. Roomy tables with large leather chairs are coupled with a sophisticated horseshoe-shaped balcony area, wrapping itself around the bar’s floor to ceiling windows. It was reasonably quiet - light house music with a mix of couples and young professional types - it is all too easy to forget this is ensconced in a modern shopping centre.
The chances are you’ll have probably seen your friend post a video onto Facebook of one of The Alchemist’s smoke-emitting cocktail creations, probably served in the kind of beaker you last saw in your high school chemistry classroom.
High-end cocktails are indeed a speciality here, with drinks ranging between £7-£13. This isn’t the sort of place someone would want to come to get tanked up on the cheap.
The menu keeps up the quasi-scientific theme, featuring mock-chemical symbols for each drink: Rhubarb and Custard Sour (£8.75) becomes Rc; French Kiss (£8.50) is FK, and so on.
As I scraped a C in my science GCSE, I thought it responsible to avoid the smoking test tubes and instead opt for the relatively reaction-free Chocolate Orange Sazerac (£8.75). This contained a potent mix of Woodford Reserve whiskey, Martell VS brandy and Cointreau. I must say, I’m not awfully used to such strong casts of spirits, so it made me rather mellow after a few sips. It also came garnished with one of those twisted orange peel things. How do you get the peel to do that? I would practice cutting them myself, but it would be a waste of good oranges and, probably, weekends. My partner is a lover of freebies in all their forms, so decided to go for The Aviator.
In what I can only assume is a first for the world of £13 cocktails, it arrived with a free hipflask. I know! It’s quite tasteful stainless steel too, featuring the bar’s logo. The cocktail itself glowed the blue of a Bob Ross skyline, and featured a sweet mix of Slipsmith gin, Briottet Violette and Blue Curacao. Hints of citrus and Parma Violets.
Spending an entire evening here would probably cause chronic pains in your lower bank card area, but it’s the ideal place to begin, or even end, an evening out. The sophisticated cool and soothing decor is sure to continue making big footsteps in Leeds. Which reminds me, I need a new pair of trainers...
The Alchemist, Leeds Trinity
Value - 7
Atmosphere - 9
Service - 8