Cosmic Oysters and Theatrical Cocktails: We Tested Out Nottingham's Quirkiest Bar

Embarking on a quest for quirky cocktails and darkly delightful dining, I hit up The Alchemist in Nottingham (also found in London or Edinburgh) – because, let's face it, a city with outlaw history and a less-than-stellar sheriff is practically begging for some magic. Promising a night of unconventional liquid enchantment, this restaurant and bar is nestled in a rumoured-to-be-haunted gothic building, one of the city's finest examples of grand Victorian architecture.

The Alchemist Nottingham Review | DesignMyNight

Visiting The Alchemist is never not a great idea.

First impressions? If Willy Wonka ever opened a speakeasy, it would probably look a lot like The Alchemist. As soon as you step in, you're greeted with the pitter-patter of voices blending seamlessly with the loud, vibey music that sets the tone for the joint. A smorgasbord of dark, moody, and kooky laboratory vibes, this den of delights screamed date night, complete with dimly lit industrial-style corners, ancient symbology and gold accents.

The Alchemist Nottingham Restaurant Review | DesignMyNight

A copper-cased wonderland, The Alchemist's menu features all kinds of molecular delights.

Kicking off the festivities, my dining partner in crime and I started with a shot each of the cosmic oysters (£11 for a duo). Served in a metal oyster shell, this rockstar of aperitifs chilling on an ice-packed platter was not just for show. These flavour-packed shots were a sweet and citrusy tag-team of gin, limoncello, yuzu, and passionfruit pearls. Then, for my first cocktail of the night, I opted for a 3.5oz of Happiness (£15) to add an extra sprinkle of joy to my life - a sweet blend of Portobello gin, Chambord raspberry, vermouth, and citrus served in a snazzy silver hip flask – yours to keep once you've sipped every drop. My friend also savoured her Pear Pressure (£10) concoction, a light and earthy mix of gin, pear liqueur, cucumber mint syrup, and citrus poured into a pressurised container.

As our eyes wandered over to the food menu, we realised The Alchemist was by no means just a cocktail bar; the fare was pretty good, too. To jumpstart the feast, we went for the tempura prawn lollipops (£8) – a fabulously juicy but light, crispy delight paired perfectly with a side of sweet chilli dipping sauce. The crispy curried fish (£18.50) that followed was an elegant treat, with fresh seasonal fish bathed in a light coconut curry sauce alongside crispy noodles and jasmine rice. My friend ordered the picanha steak smoking board (£22), which, on paper, seemed like the perfect cheat day treat, offering a variety of sides to match your carnivorous desires. Yet, as she cast an envious eye on my fish, it became apparent that her dish was a bit lacklustre and a tad too dry. 

The Alchemist Bar Nottingham Review | DesignMyNight

Every drink at The Alchemist Nottingham's menu is a work of art, complete with smoke, flames, and quirky garnishes all around.

We rounded off our evening with two more cocktails, firstly the Pop Notch (£10.50) – a dazzling blend of cherry gin, pink grapefruit, and apple, crowned with a flavoured fog bubble (that's just begging to be popped). Next up, The Legal One (£10.50), a zesty two-part drink crafted from cardamom gin and tropical vermouth that made a grand entrance with mist rising out of a bong-style drinking glass.

The DesignMyNight Digest 

If you're into mixology theatrics and a menu that reads like a wizard's spellbook, we'd recommend The Alchemist as your new go-to spot. Fizzing, bubbling, colour-changing libations and monogrammed hip flasks to take home are all standard shenanigans at this tipple factory, where the main event of the night is definitely the cocktails. 

  💰 The damage: Around £110 for two, minus service. 

  📍  The location: 11 King St, Nottingham NG1 2AY.

  👌 Perfect for: A boozy date night out.

 ⭐ Need to know: Make sure to ask the staff for rec's. Trust us, they know their stuff.


Thirsty for more? Sign up to DesignMyNight's upcoming Nottingham newsletter, featuring hot new openings and exclusive restaurant offers.