I went on a date there last week (go me!). Of course, I went to the wrong branch and ended up legging it across the city centre from The Spinning fields area to New York Street (off Portland St at the top of Piccadilly Gardens). But I still got there on time, just as Dustin Hoffman classic The Graduate was silently starting via projector on one wall and the bar staff were firing up various cocktails using what looked like Bunsen burners and other metallic utensils. Chilled out house music set the mood.
I asked one of the girls behind the bar about drinks, and was surprised by her knowledge of scotch whiskies and American imports. She picked me out a good U.S brand that made a good alternative to Jack Daniels or Southern Comfort. Prices were competitive to upmarket venues, shall we say.
Unfortunately the toilets spoiled what could have been an outstanding venue. The restrooms can frequently be the Achilles Heel of many a fine bar, and the gents' in the New York Street venue were no exeption: the overflowing bin and broken hand dryer put a damper on what could have been a top-notch venue. I was there on Thursday- perhaps at the weekend they'd have a toilet assistant keeping an eye on things.
The Alchemist brings a new science to the bar scene. Despite being there on a date, though, the only chemistry I experienced was being served up in liquid form by the staff.