In 1920’s USA, alcohol was illegal. Whether that be the sale of, manufacture or transportation of it, alcohol was strictly off-limits during the prohibition era. Speakeasy’s were so called due to the practise of quiet talk about the establishments that sold alcoholic beverages during this time. Secret bars popped up that were discussed in hushed tones and were hidden from the outside as to not alert neighbours or authorities. The speakeasy was one of the biggest parts of American culture during the time. The poor quality of bootleg liquor led to a change in the style of cocktails and individuals would dance the night away to jazz music whilst enjoying quirky new cocktails.
Fast forward to modern day, North East England and there is no secret about drinking. It’s the place where people are searching for the cheapest pint and passing out in the middle of the street. So, how did a speakeasy wind up in Middlesbrough?
Alchemy and Co. opened up above TSOne on the corner of Linthorpe and Southfield Road in 2015, bringing a unique element to the Smoggy nightlife. More and more, Middlesbrough finds unique restaurants and quirky bars opening to offer a more interesting side to the the town and Alchemy and Co. is just one of the latest.
I stumbled upon the bar on Facebook by chance and when I returned from my adventures in November, friends I mentioned it to had zero clue it existed.
To enter the bar, you need a door code. To get the door code, you need to register. So sure enough, I registered, got the door code and headed down to check it out.
Anyone who doesn’t know it is there, wouldn’t know it was there. Above another bar, there is no sign to let you know you’re in the right place. Only a gold and black door with a keypad you only assume is the correct entrance. Passers by from the bar downstairs heading to the toilet would pay little attention and if so, probably take it as staff only. After keying in the code feeling like a spy and entering as if you’re up to mischief, you are transported back to the golden age. A cute, vintage little bar, it is the most adorable and amazing place I have been to in Middlesbrough. Small in size with only the bar, two booths and a short row of three tables, Alchemy and Co. lives up to it’s speakeasy roots.
We first went back in November to sample a few cocktails and check it out, first impressions did not disappoint. Upon return this week, it was still a little piece of perfection. A great place just to chill with a friend, chat and drink. My one piece of advice is that if you want to try an antipasti board, book in advance. The first time we went, we saw one on the table next to us and ordered there and then. It was truly enjoyable and delicious. On the recent trip, we tried to order again and were told it was book in advance only. Definitely worth it, £20 for 2 delicious cocktails, a mouthwatering cheese board and a scrummy meat board. Cocktails I would recommend are;
Cinnamon French Martini – incredibly unique, delicious and looks beautiful.
Bees Knees – a quirky, sour taste to enjoy.
Elderflower Cooler – beautiful and refreshing.
Southside – a beautiful twist on the classic mojito.
Any smoking cocktails – for a unique take with a woody taste.
I absolutely cannot fault Alchemy and Co. in any way, shape or form. I am a person who gets itchy feet easily and wants to move from place to place. Both experiences here, I have happily sat for hours enjoying the atmosphere and cocktails. I have only ever been on a Friday night but I know other nights have live jazz acts, bands and musicians which I would love to check out some time and something Middlesbrough needs to quirk it up a bit.
With jazz on the speakers and cocktails on the menu, it is the perfect place to relax away from the usual busy and boisterous nightlife of Middlesbrough.
Have you ever been to a prohibition-era style bar? Where would you recommend for a good cocktail?
*All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.
*This blog post was not sponsored or endorsed in any way.