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At The Alchemist, cocktails come first. Good food is served, but the real reason to visit is the downright odd list of mixed drinks. Arrive early or book ahead.
There is rarely as much excitement towards the opening of a new bar as there was when The Alchemist simultaneously opened with the Trinity shopping centre. ‘Leeds finally has an Apple store!’ people would say. ‘Yeah, but have you seen The Alchemist,’ was a frequently heard response. It must be said, few drinking holes have invested as much into theming and eccentricity as this small third-floor bar, which seemed to signal the movement of mixology mastery out of London when it launched less than two years ago.
The Alchemist is first and foremost a cocktail bar that also happens to serve other drinks and food, instead of a restaurant that serves a few cocktails. Tales of dry ice, copper kettles, fire and test tubes provided constant publicity on social media, and the bar quickly became difficult to get into at the weekend. Wedged into a corner near Next above Urban Outfitters, the venue is on the small side, which excludes large groups and walk-ins at the weekend.
Well-presented food is one of its many strengths, but it’s Alchemist’s playful, wacky and incredibly creative cocktails that grab headlines. The bartenders make classics (they call them ‘safe bets’) such as cosmos, mojitos, and daiquiris well, but it’s the extravagantly named list of house specials that you’ll want to try. A peanut butter colada was certainly not for the faint hearted, while the sharp passion fruit meringue martini was more dessert than drink, with a flamed foam and gloopy lychee liqueur. At least ten visits would be required to try out everything on the menu safely, with Mercury Rising, Dead Red Zombie and The Colour Changing One all begging to be sampled at an average of £7-8.
Food-wise, the menu is no more expensive than is to be expected of a central Leeds eatery, and offers well-executed pub classics with a few clever surprises. Ramen arrives with a separate kettle of boiling water to cook the vegetables, and the hot wings are sticky and not too spicy. The best way to enjoy The Alchemist is to arrive in the late afternoon and spend time enjoying the friendly yet trendy atmosphere before the crowds descend.
Level 1, Trinity Leeds
|Opening hours:||Sun-Wed 11am-midnight; Thu-Fri 11am-1am; Sat 10am-1am|