Zoe Fryday steps into the theatrics of The Alchemist’s new London flagship
Guests of The Alchemist’s new London flagship in Canary Wharf can expect flames, plumes of fragrant smoke and glimpses of mad science. This won’t come as a surprise to those who know the brand, as it’s renowned for its unconventionality and theatrics. As masters in the dark arts of molecular mixology, the team pride themselves on creating bewitching and bedazzling experiences for curious, thrill- seeking consumers.
Located in Reuters Plaza, the bar offers a warm respite from the hustle and bustle of the epicentre of trade, where customers can unwind with a spot of lunch on the terrace or by sipping on an eccentric cocktail. “We wanted to deliver a glint of gold in the everyday and shake up the business district,” explains Jenny McPhee, head of brands at The Alchemist. “With three established venues in London, we decided to add a fourth in a flagship location. The esteemed status of Canary Wharf made the area a target to further establish our footprint in the capital and showcase our brand on a world-renowned stage.”
“Our mixologists create every serve with an obsessive eye for detail, presented in vessels orchestrated to add a devilish dash of theatre.”
The Canary Wharf site offers everything from early morning coffee and freshly baked bagels through to tempting brunch options, burgers, nibbles and classic dishes with a special Alchemist twist. Guests can indulge in River Blackwater oysters from West Mersea Island, which are bespoke to the venue, or choose from larger options such decadent fillet steak, pan-fried seabass or katsu curry, which is available in a choice of chicken or cauliflower. As the evening draws in, the bar starts to pulsate with an energetic post-work crowd, who treat themselves to late-night snacks and expertly-made tipples.
The Alchemist’s cocktails range from flavourful classics to crazy, chemistry-driven concoctions – all designed to deliver pure ‘wow’ moments. “Our mixologists create every serve with an obsessive eye for detail, presented in vessels orchestrated to add a devilish dash of theatre,” says Jenny. “We recommend our staple, Bubblebath, a delicious blend of gin, Aperol, Chambord, lemon, apple and ‘fairy liquid.’ The clue is in the name, as the drink is delivered bubbling and smoking.”
Alternatively there’s The Legal One, combining cardamom gin, Bristol Syrup Pineapple & Coconut, tropical vermouth, lime and tonic, which is served in a giant bong, and The Mad Hatters scientific sharing cocktail, an infusion of Ketel One vodka, citrus, St-Germain, Cointreau and summer fruits, with a generous helping of billowing white mist from dry ice. The less dramatic serves on the menu are far from ordinary, too. The Pink Fizz Paloma, for instance, combines El Jimador Tequila, Pampelle Ruby L’Apero, citrus and Curious IPA, while The Alchemist’s banoffee twist on a Manhattan mixes espresso, Monkey Shoulder whisky, Briottet Banana, Monin Banana Syrup and banoffee foam.
The interiors are just as impressive as the food and drinks offering. The venue, which spans two floors, has the ability to transform based on the time of day, with the plaza-facing façade of glass flooding in natural light. Described by Jenny and the wider Alchemist family as a “copper-cased wonderland”, the space features warm metallic fittings, delicate lighting installations and deep, decadent artwork and illustrations, which come alive after dark. The cosy restaurant area juxtaposes with the busy downstairs bar, and there are many seating zones, offering different perspectives. The Alchemist’s signature branding is evident throughout – on the menus, accessories and even projected onto the walls. What’s more, the outdoor terrace provides a relaxing haven from the busy city surroundings where guests can perch and watch the world go by.
“We wanted to deliver a glint of gold in the everyday and shake up the business district.”
Since its launch, the new London flagship has proven a hit with city professionals and visitors to Canary Wharf. “The area is its own bustling metropolis, with so many fantastic restaurants and bars,” says Jenny. “We’re bringing our unique cocktails, warm service and sense of theatre to that.” Those looking for something outside of the box can book themselves in for a masterclass or take part in The Conjurer experience, an augmented reality cocktail list complete with tasty sharing plates. Jenny adds: “Everything is going fantastically. We are very happy with trading over Christmas and enjoyed a busy January with events such as Light Night and our Le Freak Disco Brunch attracting large crowds. We’re now focusing on the fruitful spring and summer months ahead.”
The Alchemist, Reuters Plaza, London, E14 5AJ
Behind the scenes
Interior design: Macaulay Sinclair
Originally published in the March 2020 print edition of Bar magazine.