Ok Voyeurs, this is the big one, the one you’ve been waiting for. For months you’ve been reading the pre-launch hype about the latest bar / restaurant offering to take up residence in the brand new Grey’s Quarter at Intu Eldon Square and now The Alchemist is finally here. I was lucky enough to get pre-launch VIP access so got a chance to have a little nosey round the huge ground floor unit but the official launch party went down on Thursday March 30th.
A truly magical invite landed on our doorstep inviting Bo and I to the VIP launch party, accompanied by a box of matches, all was revealed when a lit match was run over the invite, which promised a night of adventure and alchemy. I planned my outfit weeks in advance but obviously didn’t wear it because I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ type of gal. I did however, enlist the help of MAC at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre to help me create a negative space eyeliner effect as a nod toward The Alchemist’s flair for the dramatic. So, when the night rolled around, Bo and I made our way to The Alchemist fashionably late, natch.
The building has two entrances, one inside the shopping mall and one street entrance – it’s way more impressive from the street entrance and feels less like a mall restaurant from that side. Once inside, the first thing I notice is that The Alchemist is an entirely different beast when it’s packed to the rafters with thirsty peeps. When it’s empty, its eye level curiosities and wall murals seduce you with their gothic magic but when the place is full, these become invisible leaving the bar and it’s residents Alchemists to do the work.
Launch night meant a free bar, at least until 21.30 (which meant the bar area was five deep until exactly 21.30) so whilst it took around 15 minutes to get our first drink, everyone seemed to be in the same boat. Obviously staff at The Alchemist were keen to show off their (b)artistic flair and cocktail making skills so a live Zoltar machine was on hand to assess your personality and assign a matching cocktail which would then be made for you at the bar.
If you’re a fan of spectacular and peculiar cocktails then The Alchemist should be on your radar. With an array of tools including copper pans and Bunsen burners in order to brew your chosen drink to perfection, bar staff are encouraged to ‘prepare with flair’ so you can expect foot high flames, sparks, and seemingly eternally foaming potions. Prepare to wait a little longer for the magic though, it’s not something that’s knocked up in the time it takes to pull a pint of Amstel or pour a simple Amaretto and cranberry. Waiting times for drinks at The Alchemist have faced criticism on social media, however if you’re ordering two or three of their more exotic cocktails, then you just have to suck that up – especially when it’s packed out at its 400 capacity.
We took up residency at a table that gave us a great view of other people’s cocktails being prepared meaning we got to experience the theatre of The Alchemist without the wait – nice. Once the place quietened off a little and the masses moved on, the personality of The Alchemist comes out, you start to notice the nods to Geordie tradition, like the stuffed magpie sitting proudly atop a shelf.
Personally I haven’t sampled the food available at The Alchemist but they do offer menus from brunch right through to dinner and have an extended seating area outside for days when the sun is shining and you want to trade the darkness for sunshine.
So, is it worth a visit? Yes. The Alchemist is somewhere you should visit if only to make up your own mind, it’s definitely a hot ticket and certainly for months to come it’s going to be THE place to be seen. The cocktails aren’t your usual run of the mill Cosmopolitans or Porn Star Martinis, they really are something special, and they’re worth waiting for. The interior decor is cool and the touches of copper sing out through the gothic colour scheme, so go, order something awesome and revel in the theatre that The Alchemist brings to the Newcastle bar scene.