We all know you can have a cocktail shaken or stirred, but what if you were given the option for your drink to be smoked and steamed, foamed, fizzed or set on fire? Are you mad I hear you say? The Alchemist Bar and Restaurant in the No. 6 Bevis Marks building adjacent to The Gherkin is a mad scientist dream, but a perfectly sane place that will impress even the most jaded of seasoned drinkers.
There stands an impressive-sized glowing green bar stocked full of nuclear alcoholic concoctions, perched on shelves, aged in barrels and floating menacingly around flasks, all used to create cocktail crafted tom-foolery. Close at hand is an array of technical apparatus and powdered enhancements to create the most magical drinks one could possibly imagine. The wide wrap-around copper bar provides space and the perfect platform for punters to watch their creations take place, with confident and knowledgeable bar tenders putting on a professional show.
Our evening started with the bars most popular poison titled “Mad Hatters Tea Party’. A sharing cocktail for two, this extravaganza of a drink starts with strawberry, cucumber, grapefruit peel, mint and passion fruit placed into a double-barreled glass brewing flask. A pre-prepared elderflower and vodka cosmopolitan is then sucked into the top of the flask via a gas flame that causes the liquid to bubble away and infuse the fruit. The finale comes as the drink is poured over dry-ice, creating a thick crawling carpet of smoke wrapping around your drink, and spreading over the bar to lick around your body. This spectacular showstopper leaves you nothing short of impressed, enthralled and enthusiastically screaming ‘Give me more!’
But the fun doesn’t stop there; Alchemists Smokey Old Fashion made with bourbon, bitters and maple syrup provides an interesting twist on this classic cocktail. Served in a large tumbler glass with a tennis-sized ice ball, a smoking gun is filled with oak chips and shot into the bourbon, permeating it with intense smokey flavours. Strong, smooth and woody, if this drink were a person it would be Richard Burton, sat in a matured leather armchair, reciting gripping tales the of nether, his eyes glued to you with hypnotic attention.
Alchemist bartenders have been trained with precision, having the capability of making up to 5 cocktails simultaneously. This skillful multi-tasking means no long boring queues at the bar so often associated with cocktail venues. So much fun was it watching our drinks change colour, froth, bubble, and be set alight, we decided to give up moving to one of the large comfy leather chesterfields, and instead order a food platter right to the bar.
A delicious array of pot stickers, prawns, mini chicken drumsticks and nachos wet our appetite and led onto ordering a thick warming chicken red curry. One level up from the bar is the official Alchemist restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, a delicious mix of Asian, British and American influences. The menu is a combination of well–loved trusted favorites that go just right with the fun easy going attitude of the bar.
Still dazzled and awed by the cocktails being created for other punters, we carried on with a drink that resembled a soapy brain emerging out of a martini glass – aptly named the bubble bath, followed by a Red Zombie consisting of rum, absinth and raspberry foam from a gas canister.
Once the dry-ice vapors had stared to disperse it appeared that we ourselves were becoming somewhat of a mad scientist experiment through slight over-indulgence, hence we graciously (I hope) departed. This is so much better than watching a grumpy bar tender pull you a pint. What a great way to show off to your friends, a brilliant birthday surprise, a superb date venue and just a supremely fun way to spend a evening out on the town. Alchemist, you are wickedly good. I will be back.
The Alchemist: 6 Bevis Marks, London, EC3A 7BA
7am-12am Monday and Tuesday
7am-2am Thursday and Friday
T: 020 7283 8800
Written by Justina Terese, Food Writer and Recipe Developer www.foodforaking.com