I’ll admit it, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I do like going all out on Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolate, a cheesy hand-written card, the works! And every year, I try to do something a little different from the last.
Having been with my boyfriend for five years now, it does take a bit of thought to come up with something new and original so I was lucky enough to come across the Valentine’s Cocktail Masterclass held at The Alchemist.
The Alchemist is a bar and restaurant, originally established in Manchester but they have branches in Leeds and more recently, in London as well. The decor is cool, sophisticated with a bit of a Mad Men charm. Quite fitting considering it’s located in suit-central; The City.
You enter into a wide open space with a bar in the middle and stairs on the side, taking you up to the restaurant area.
Waiting for the other couples to arrive for our class, I made sure I snooped around every nook and corner of this uber-cool establishment.
The Alchemist is known for creating their own cocktails and experimenting with various flavours and ingridients to bring a little twist to traditional cocktails. I guess that’s what you call Mixology?
Once the other couples arrived, we were treated to a glass of Kir Royale: Prosecco with Cassis Syryp.
Our lovely mixologist, Mike, then took us through each of the three cocktails we were to learn and re-create: Smokey Old Fashioned, French Martini and Bubble Bath. I was obviously most excited for the last one!
Starting with the Smokey Old Fashioned, you need (apologies for not remembering the exact measurements but hey, this is mixology after all!): Maple Syrup, Bourbon and Bitters.
And finally, this little device (almost like a gun with a large hole on top) in which you sprinkle some oak shavings, light the shavings and watch it give off smoke through a long tube at the front. You insert the tube into the flask and let the smoke settle. The longer you leave in the smoke, the smokier your drink!
Lastly, pour your mix over your glass and watch the smoke slowly dissipate!
And there you have it, the Smokey Old Fashioned. Don Draper would definitely approve!
Next, we moved on to the French Martini, consisting of: Vodka, Chambord (how cool is that bottle by the way?), Cranberry Juice and my favourite, Pinapple Foam. Before you begin, it’s important to chill your martini glass by filling it with ice and setting aside.
Fill your mixing glass with ice and then shake it well to mix the liquids.
Remove the ice and pour the drink into your martini glass. The strainer helps remove little bits of ice from all the shaking.
Squeeze out some Pinapple Foam on top (which is made in-house at The Alchemist) and sprinkle some Cranberry Powder to finish.
Voila! The French Martini. Much sweeter and fruitier than the Smokey Old Fashioned which had too much of a whiskey kick for my taste!
Lastly, the piéce de résistance (you’ll see why in a minute), the Bubble Bath! This requires: Gin, Chambord, Aperol, and Apple Juice. Don’t forget to chill your martini glass before!
Then you add this mix of a powder, the ingridients of which I’m afraid escapes my mind! Remove the ice and place two to three pieces of dry ice at the bottle of your martini glass which you will need to press down to the bottom to make sure it holds.
Finally, pour your liquid concoction over the dry ice and watch magic happen! Hundreds and hundreds of bubbles will begin to form on top!
Tangy, sweet and of course, bubbly!
I always like to plan an experience as opposed to material gifts (not that I would ever decline!) so that you’re both able to enjoy an activity together which makes this masterclass perfect for not only couples but also friends and family if you’re looking to do something different. The class takes place in a private area of the bar with a dedicated mixologist for groups of six to twelve people. They offer three different packages based on how many cocktails you want to make and whether you want some nibbles included as well. You can also come beforehand or stay back after for a meal at the restaurant.
The Alchemist truly have some unique and interesting cocktails to tickle your tastebuds and our mixologist, Mike, was incredibly friendly and open to all questions and happy to show us other crazy cocktails as well.
Located in The City, the closest tube stations are Liverpool Street, Aldgate East and Bank. You can find out more information about the classes and general bookings here.
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