The Alchemist Newcastle opened its mysterious doors in Eldon Square’s Grey’s Quarter this week, heralding the much-anticipated arrival of classy cocktails with a touch of molecular magic into our party city. It made its first appearance back in 2010 in Manchester, and has since opened up in cities across the UK including Birmingham, London and Leeds.
Newcastle is the first branch to open in the North East, and I was invited along with a gaggle of local bloggers and media to see the magic for ourselves. I made sure I was accompanied by a friend who can hold her drink, and who I knew would be very much up to the job of road-testing the extensive cocktail menu while making sure I got home in one piece afterwards. Thanks Hannah.
As we walked in the doors on the dot of 4pm, we were warmly welcomed by the freshly trained staff and greeted with an interior that’s certainly in keeping with the Alchemist ethos that bills itself as ‘a celebration of the dark, unconventional and controversial’. Copper a-plenty, gothic artwork adorning the walls, and luxury leather seating… it’s sexy, it’s captivating, it’s dark.
What cocktails did we try at The Alchemist Newcastle?
We were positively encouraged to get through as much of the gold-embossed cocktail menu as possible during our visit, so we gave it a good old go purely in the name of research you understand. Drinking cocktails at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon definitely felt decadent, but once we’d got through the first couple, we were on a roll, as you can see from the long list of creations we managed to polish off between the two of us:
Caramelised Rum Punch: Appleton Signature Rum, Grand Marnier, Watermelon, Lime, Pineapple, Fire (£8.50)
Expect flame, sparks and spice! This was a truly spectacular start to the evening. A long, warming drink that you can savour.
Bubblebath: Tanqueray Gin, Aperol, Chambord, Lemon, Apple, Fairy Liquid (£7.75)
Pretty, pink and frothing to the max with spectacular bubbles that keep simmering away while you drink. You’ll need a straw unless you want a bubble beard!
Tickle Me Pink: Hendricks Gin, Briottet Elderflower, Lime, Nettles, Sting (£8.50)
This is for the brave hearts amongst you. Inject your mouth with red gin via a syringe and wait for your tongue to go numb… then revive yourself with a leaf and a fizzy zesty drink over ice! Quite an experience…
Lightbulb Moment: Tanqueray Gin, Pimms, Ginger Beer, Raspberry, Lemon Mint (£7.95)
Tasty gin cocktail poured out of a lightbulb with an impressive amount of smoke which makes it a whole lot of fun.
Smokey Old Fashioned: Woodford Reserve, Maple Syrup, Dilution, Jerry Thomas Bitters, Smoke (£7.75)
This is a super classy and smooth concoction that I wasn’t expecting to like as I’m not a whisky fan. The combination of maple and smoke is a total delight. Quite possibly my favourite of the night, although Hannah said it got a bit too sweet towards the end of drinking it.
Here’s a video of the Smokey Old Fashioned being expertly put together by our lovely mixologist
French Martini: Reyka Vodka, Chambord, Cranberry, Pineapple Foam, Raspberry Dust (£7.95)
A cute girly cocktail, quite sweet but very quaffable at the same time.
The Mad Hatters: Ketel One Vodka, Citrus, Elderflower, Cointreau and Summer Fruits, Science (£20.50 Serves 2)
If you want the full-on Harry Potter experience this is fabulous to watch being made. Liquids bubbling in giant glass tubes and oodles of smoke served in charming little tea cups (see below picture of it being made)
Lady Marmalade: Chase Marmalade, Belsazar Vermouth, Bergamot, Lemon, Citrus (£8.50)
This was utterly delicious as it taps into my taste for all things sharp and zesty.
Ballbreaker: Tanqueray Gin, Briottet Pink Grapefruit, Lemon, Blackcurrant Ball to Break (£7.50)
If you like the thought of piercing a big ball of delicious blackcurrant over an icy gin, this is the drink for you.
Off Menu: Smoky Paloma – Pink Grapefruit riff on a Margarita
Absolutely divine! I’m a huge fan of tequila, and this is one mighty fine way of drinking it! The only thing missing was the salted rim….
The bar staff had only had three weeks’ training, but they all seemed very adept at crafting these scientific cocktails with an approach that was both forensic and dramatic. Seriously, you could just sit at the bar all night and watch these mixologists at work.
Value for money
I’d expected the cocktail prices to be outrageously expensive, however most of them are around £7-£8, which seems pretty reasonable given its central location and the amount of effort that goes into making them. The sense of theatre that the talented bar staff create in their tasty laboratory is a proper spectacle and a fabulous way to kick off a night out on the town. There’s no doubt in my mind that the party people of Newcastle are going to lap up The Alchemist and its magical mixologist ways.
We didn’t really get to try the food offering, however if the delicious canapés were anything to go by people will be in for a treat. You can check out The Alchemist Food Menu here if you fancy a nosy at what they serve, but it all looks fairly priced and presents a mix of cuisines with some decent sounding vegetarian options. It’s actually an all-day venue open for coffee, brunch and lunch, as well as dinner and cocktails.
Would you take kids?
As it’s open during the day I definitely would. My boys would be fascinated by the magic of the cocktails, and as there are a few non alcoholic options there’s no reason why they can’t join in on this experience.
Would I go back?
It’s firmly on my list of places to go for a big night out when I’ve got friends up to stay, but somehow I think we’ll have to book a table because it’s set to be the hottest place in town! My friend was similarly impressed, especially by the great team behind the bar and their knowledge of ingredients. She loved the beautiful setting and we both agreed it’s set to be the place to be seen!
Amazingly we were still able to walk in a straight line out of the bar at the end of our night, maybe they actually put something in the cocktails to prevent wobbly legs!
Very minor but the menu was quite hard to read in the low lighting as the font listing the ingredients is very fine and small.
We did wonder how the bar staff will be able to swiftly drum up all of these elaborate cocktails for a thirsty crowd when the weekend hits, but something about their expertise and unflappable charm tells me they’ll do just fine!
Find The Alchemist Newcastle
5 Grey’s Quarter
Newcastle Upon Tyne
The Alchemist Newcastle Opening Hours
- Monday – Wednesday: 8am – Midnight
- Thursday: 8am – 1am
- Friday & Saturday: 8am – 2am
- Sunday: 10am – 11pm
Bookings: 0191 261 1112
Instagram & Twitter: @thealchemistuk
Disclosure: We were guests of The Alchemist Newcastle, but were not required to write a positive review