The Alchemist, Leeds

alchemist leedsLiving Ventures has come to Leeds for the third outing of its stylish cocktail bar and restaurant

A new destination for cocktails has appeared in Leeds city centre. After five years and an investment of £350million, Trinity Leeds leisure and retail centre opened in March, located between Briggate, Albion Street and Boar Lane, about the size of 13 football pitches. D&D London has opened its first sites outside of London, restaurant and cocktail bar Angelica and a restaurant Crafthouse, while TGI Friday’s and Everyman Cinema have added to the bar scene. The development has also attracted Living Ventures which has opened restaurant and bar The Botanist and a third site for cocktail bar and restaurant The Alchemist after the success of the first two in Manchester in Spinningfields and New York Street.

Alchemist Trinity takes the luxurious, stylish look of the Manchester sites to a new level, with more feminine and softer details. Retaining the copper and brass finishes familiar from the other two bars, it includes luxurious copper-studded seating.

The new venue was designed in-house by Natalie Waldron with chief executive and co-founder Tim Bacon. Up on the first floor of Trinity Leeds, it has a balcony offering 180-degree views of the city, framed by a sleek structural canopy that runs round the perimeter of the building. The kitchen is completely open, making it the heart of the restaurant operation and adding to the “theatrical” presentation. Natalie’s favourite feature is the pocket-watch clock which was customised by the Cumbrian Clock Company, best known for working on Big Ben. “We sourced this on German eBay and put our spin on it to make it the Alchemist clock behind the back bar,” Natalie says.

alchemist terrace

The bar team, headed by Dariush Afashar Haghighi, serve up innovative cocktails, including the use of molecular techniques such as a Strawberry Bellini made with strawberry caviar and prosecco. The Dry Iced Tea is a deconstructed Iced Tea, combining vodka, rum, gin and orange liqueur with a lemon and sugar mix and a dash of soda, served in a glass teapot with dry ice to make it look like it is steaming. This is poured by the customer into a glass containing a large ice ball and a Coca-Cola foam. The lemon and sugar mix, which is prepared in advance and goes into a number of cocktails, is made by juicing lemons and adding caster sugar, lemon zest and lemon bitters.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is a combination of vodka, St-Germain elderflower liqueur and Cointreau with citric acid and sugar syrup. After adding boiling water, it is put in a glass coffee boiler where a mini Bunsen burner underneath starts heating the liquids. In the top of the boiler are mint, cucumber, grapefruit zest, passion fruit and strawberries. As the base heats up, the steam forces the liquid to rise to the top and infuse with the fruit to give it extra flavour. It then drops back down once the heat is removed and is poured over dry ice where the heat of the mix causes the dry ice to steam while cooling the liquid down. It is served in small vintage tea cups.

Open from midday to 1am Thursdays to Saturdays and until midnight the rest of the week, The Alchemist has been an instant hit. Even though it is alongside shops open only in the daytime, the bar continues to pull in cocktail lovers late into night.

The Alchemist, Level 1, Trinity Leeds, Leeds LS1 6HW Tel: 0113 246 0540

Who did it
Design: Natalie Waldron, Tim Bacon
Clock: Cumbrian Clock Company
Neon lighting: Benson Signs
Internal furniture, outside tables: Geometric Furniture
Double fumed oak parquet flooring: Ted Todd Flooring
Lighting: Into Lighting, The Light Corporation

The Botanist

The first Botanist opened in Alderley Edge, south of Manchester, last year, developed by The New World Pub Company, a sister company to Living Ventures. The second Botanist, located at the Boar Lane entrance of Trinity Leeds, presents a rustic deli-style menu accompanied by a rotisserie and barbecue as well as over 40 bottled beers and ciders from around the world, cask ales, champagnes and cocktails. Designed by Paul Danson, it features botanically-inspired lighting and a sculptural metal canopy shaped like lily pads.
botanist leeds

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Bar magazine.

Previous Industry news round-up: July 15, 2013
Next Premium mixers added to Bottlegreen range