When we first heard a Paulo Coelho novel inspired hole-in-the-wall had opened up on Soi 11, we cringed a little. But, having discovered that it’s not at all new age, and grown fond of the place since it opened a few months ago, The Alchemist has become one of our Soi 11 go-to bars, especially on those nights when we’re out, but not for a big one.
Fitting somewhere between the swank cocktail bars that double up as pick-up joints and the rickety dive bar aesthetic of the legendary Cheap Charlie’s, which it neighbours, it’s a stylishly stripped down drinking hole. Nothing more, nothing less.
We approve, and so too, it seems, do the punters. Not only does it attract the spill-over from Cheap Charlie’s, it also draws a loyal crowd of its own, who savour the intimate atmosphere, occasional live music, proper his and her toilets (Cheap Charlie’s are infamous for their ‘noshitting’ sign) and, above all, well-priced drinks.
We’d be happy if they just served the usual assortment of beers, shots and mixers, but the bartenders here also get creative, something that seems to go down especially well on the weekends, when the place is usually packed.
Currently rocking the drinks list are assorted martinis (dry, passionfruit and espresso), classic cocktails, random shooters, and some of the best mojitos this side of
Sukhumvit. Especially popular are the cinnamon mojitos, while punters with fond memories of their gap-year spent sipping buckets on Khao San or Had Rin beach like to indulge in one of The Alchemist’s “classier” lychee or blackcurrent-flavoured variants (B400).
Signatures include potions such as ‘The Secret Garden’: a tall glass of vodka, coriander, ginger, lemongrass, passsionfruit and ginger ale (B220). Happily, all of the tipples come in quite a bit cheaper than at the swankier joints, and without the plus plus service charge and government tax that turns even the sweetest deals sour.
Run by two former radio jocks, Saloni and Tapanee, The Alchemist is a friendly neighbourhood bar with style but no pretence, with flair but modest prices. If there’s a weak point it’s the lack of a proper food menu, but, in an admirable display of Soi 11 togetherness, you can order in from one of the many neighbouring restaurants.
1/19 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | BTS Nana | 083-549-2055 | facebook.com/thealchemistbkk| Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight