September 23rd, 2016

The Alchemist Has Arrived In Birmingham - And It Has A Hidden Underground Bar

By Birmingham Mail

We had a preview of Birmingham's latest swanky new cocktail bar and restaurant - with a secret basement bar!

After years of restoration work The Grand Hotel in Birmingham is to open its first cocktail bar - The Alchemist - and it looks pretty special.

This place is about celebrating molecular mixology and alchemy of cocktails as well as being a celebration of the ‘unconventional, dark and controversial’.

It is about to bring something very dark and dramatic to Brum’s bar scene thanks to The Lab - a very sexy underground bar under The Grand Hotel in Colmore Row.

The Alchemist Has Arrived In Birmingham - And It Has A Hidden Underground Bar

The Alchemist has already made its name in Leeds, Manchester and London but none of these bars have a basement bar that resembles a copper encased wonderland.

The Lab is a Gothic style bar that makes full use of the historic features of The Grand with exposed brickwork and 18ft ceilings covered in a canopy of lights.

The very dramatic interior is highlighted by the purple seating, copper bar and also a massive mural.

The Alchemist Has Arrived In Birmingham - And It Has A Hidden Underground Bar

The downstairs bar is open for everyone to enjoy from 5pm each evening although it definitely has a private members feel.

Jenny McPhee, brand manager for The Alchemist told us: “You can’t reserve tables, it’s just a first come, first served basis, but there is table service.”

Jenny added: “ We haven’t done any publicity for The Lab. We’re not putting it on our website. We want people to stumble across it.

“We couldn’t create anything like this bar at our other venues because it’s in The Grand and it is just such a beautiful old building with so much character.”

It really feels like The Grand has been brought back to life down here.

The Alchemist Has Arrived In Birmingham - And It Has A Hidden Underground Bar

“While we were renovating the site our builders found a old milk bottle with Birmingham etched on it - who knows how long it had been there. We’ve displayed it in a cabinet in the downstairs bar - like a museum piece.”

General manager John Paul McGrath, from Erdington, is back in Birmingham after ten years away to head up The Alchemist.

“It’s brilliant to be back in my home city and I feel really lucky to be managing the only Alchemist in the country to have The Lab. “It’s very different to anything else.”

The Alchemist Has Arrived In Birmingham - And It Has A Hidden Underground Bar

The Alchemist bar is open from 9am serving cocktails, mocktails and smoothies.

If you’re looking for a brunch cocktail Beyond The Kale is popular - made with vodka, lime, kale over ice.

Thankfully The Alchemist are happy to make this without alcohol if you prefer.

Other non alcoholic drinks are offer include The Kick - tonic base and coffee foam - beats our morning Americano.

But of course this is a theme bar with firm focus on the theatrics of cocktail making with a huge cocktail list which includes The Light Bulb, Mad Hatters Tea Party and the Bubble Bath.

Bunsen burners, smoking guns, and blowtorches are all part of the barmen’s cocktail creating kit. And they are all trained to make seven drinks all at the same time - so hopefully Brummies won’t have too long to wait at the bar.

Head barman Felix Cross is known as the cocktail scientist throughout The Alchemist bars and will be using The Lab as his, er lab, to create new cocktails!

On the food menu, a bestseller is the retro chicken in a basket as well as starters such as prawn lollipops. There are also nibbles including parmesan and truffle popcorn.

Simon Potts, managing director of The Alchemist, said: “Birmingham’s food and drink scene has developed immensely over the past couple of years and we want The Alchemist to be a part of that. We are excited to be bringing our dynamic and theatrical offering to this district of the city centre.”

Cocktails at The Alchemist you must try:

Caramelised Rum Punch

Appleton signature rum, grand marnier, watermelon, lime, pineapple, fire!

Bubble Bath


Tanqueray gin, Aperol, Chambord, lemon, apple and fairy liquid (yes, really)

Light Bulb moment

Tanqueray gin, pimms, ginger beer, raspberry, lemon, mint.

Mad Hatters Tea Party

Ketal one vodka, citrus, elderflower, cointreau and summer fruits, science!


The Alchemist will be open Mon – Wed - 9am – midnight, Thursdays - 9am – 1am, Fridays - 9am – 1am, Saturdays - 10 am – 2am, Sundays - 10am – 11pm





Tags: Birmingham, Cocktails, Drink, Food, Opening, The Alchemist
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The Alchemist is open for morning coffee, brunch, lunch and dinner offering  everything Living Ventures are renowned for – excellent service, innovative cocktails and great food.