Part of the popular Living Ventures group; The Alchemist situated in Spinningfields has a huge outdoor terrace and has established itself as an all day venue offering everything from morning coffee and brunch to a relaxed evening dinner setting. Noticeable by its stand-out window display of twinkling fairy lights the venue has remained the areas go-to venue for meetings, with smart and chic customers using The Alchemist for business, pleasure and everything in between.
Entering The Alchemist you are immediately struck by the high ceilings and cool, bright interior. Living up to its name the large antique bar is covered in interesting curios with the large back bar full of a huge variety of spirits and liqueurs. Right at the very top of this, only reachable by ladder are a series of cupboards each with their own key for those of you who can afford to keep your own bottle of choice locked up and free from prying fingers, a very nice touch. At the end of the bar is the restaurant seating area, informal yet dimly lit this is a great place to take a friend or date you want to impress. For a more continental affair there is the outdoor terrace area with heaters and comfortable seating – a rare combination in Manchester.
The Atmosphere & Clientele
I headed to The Alchemist midweek and the bar was full of a mixture of after-work drinkers and people enjoying a night out. The crowd was smart, sophisticated and I was glad I’d smarted up in a dress and boots. Based in an area surrounded by offices the crowd were typically mid-twenties and upwards, with the majority enjoying cocktails (more on those later) and a relaxed drink. The atmosphere at The Alchemist was friendly and relaxing this is certainly not a party bar! The staff have clearly been trained to an incredibly high standard, on arrival I was immediately greeted and during dinner our waiter was friendly and incredibly helpful. When my friend and I decided to stay for a nightcap we were helped in choosing a cocktail (I highly recommend the Smokey Old Fashioned!) despite the bar clearly being busy, which pushed the standard even higher.
The Food and Drink
Despite the huge range of cocktails (fifty and counting...) The Alchemist's food offering is extensive and varied. Focused on creating an informal dining experience the food ranged from light bites such as edamame beans and olives, to more substantial dishes such as burgers, fajitas and stir fry. As a vegetarian I often struggle with eating out, often being limited to one and sometimes two food choices, however I was pleasantly surprised to have several different options available. Opting for the stir fry the food came quickly and was fresh and filling, leaving plenty of room for an exquisite chocolate fudge cake. The attention to detail was also apparent in their brunch and breakfast menu which included over twenty soft drink options ranging from a strawberry and pineapple martini to an elderflower smoothie. It’s clear how The Alchemist manages to transition and work so well as a daytime and evening venue and definitely made me take a mental note to visit in the day when I am in city centre.
The Alchemist has positioned itself as a great all day venue in the centre of Spinningfields. An area which initially struggled to find its feet with the addition of The Oast House, Australasia and occasional pop up bars, the area is rapidly becoming more attractive as an evening destination for dinner and drinks. In my eyes, The Alchemist remains head and shoulders above nearby bars in regards to its service and cocktail offering. It’s a great place to get dressed up and work your way through some of the menu but its relaxed vibe means that you can drop in anytime of day to kick back and people watch.