Thanks to their theatrical flair, The Alchemist is a name that many are already familiar with, boasting venues all over the country, including in London, Manchester and beyond. We lucky Brummies have not one, but two of these watering holes - and while the Brindley Place venue is highly regarded, I'd heard great things about the Colmore Row location, so swang by the latter to see what all the fuss is about.
As self-proclaimed specialists in "the dark arts of molecular mixology", the bar and restaurant's theme was clear from the get-go. Gold-framed geometric patterns lined the walls (where it looked like wallpaper had been stripped back in places to reveal edgy, bare bricks), while low lighting added an air of mystery to the space. What's more, there was a magnificent centrepiece bar that glowed ominously in the background. And, as it was a Saturday night, a DJ had taken to the decks, creating a buzzing atmosphere.
To quench my thirst, I ordered the aptly named Lava Lamp (£10.50), which came in a tall glass with flashing pink and blue disco lights. Not only did it include two different types of rum that mingled nicely with coconut and pineapple, but also floating caviar, which created a groovy lava lamp effect (hence the name). Intrigue piqued, we delved into another cocktail - the vodka-based French Kiss (£11). Though a beautiful pink colour (most likely from the raspberry and cranberry), we were both scared and excited by the curious-looking tongue that garnished the glass. And while initially drawn to the Hipflask Margarita (£15) due to the free Alchemist-branded hip flask that came with it, it actually became one of our favourites of the lot; the tequila was strong but not overpowering, complemented by the fruity notes of apricot and orange.
Yes, The Alchemist is famed for its drinks (and for good reason), but more attention should definitely be paid to the food menu. I decided to go for the picanha steak (£22) smoking board, which included meat on a skillet accompanied by everything you needed to make tortillas. The meat came coated in a rich cola glaze but, although it had been seared to a nice medium rare, was a little on the chewy side. However, the guacamole and sour cream tasted like they'd been freshly made and added a nice zing to the dish. My friend ordered the chicken in a basket (£15), a wired basket bowl filled to the brim with golden-crisp buttermilk chicken and a generous serving of fries, which we dipped in the maple and bourbon sauce.
After devouring our hefty mains, there wasn't much room left for dessert, so we decided to opt for a liquid pudding instead... While The Pornstar (£12) was a classic cocktail that we knew would be a safe bet, the drink that really caught our eye was the Jaffa Cup-Cake (£11). Composed of citrus-based alcohols, including Jaffa Cake Vodka and Grand Marnier, plus various forms of chocolate, the recreation of the much-loved snack was totally unique.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I had a fantastic time at The Alchemist on Colmore Row, and feel as though I was offered a high-quality experience that is hard to find elsewhere. The staff were attentive and really friendly, and the atmosphere was full of excitement, which was needed for a Saturday night out. If you are looking for somewhere to have a guaranteed good time with a wide variety of food and drinks, The Alchemist is probably the best place you could visit.
💰 The damage: £40 per person plus service.
📍 The location: The Grand, Colmore Row, B3 2BS.
👌 Perfect for: Birthdays, anniversaries and graduation celebrations.
⭐ Need to know: The Alchemist Birmingham's bottomless brunch looked pretty amaze too.
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