Calling yourself a mixologist these days is like calling your band punk. It’s a label without much meaning. But perhaps what a great drinks wizard really does is more akin to alchemy, transforming a selection of spirits and mixers into a magic potion capable of yanking you out of the vodka tonic doldrums. And so comes Alchemist, a new SoMa drinking den whose bartenders have done time at the likes of Comstock Saloon and the Tipsy Pig. Interiors offer a welcome break from all that trendy old-timiness. Rather, it is a surreal and heady mix of gothic and steampunk strangeness (i.e. the bar rails are made from old gears). There’s also mezzanine lounge for a good bit of snogging.
And the drinks? Well, a Chinese herbalist was consulted, infusing many of Alchemist’s creations with health-encouraging botanical elements. The menu is admirably short and tight. We’d recommend the Room With a Vieux (rye, tequila, cocchi, nonino, Angostura & orange bitters) and the Monkey Gland (gin, grenadine, orange juice, absinthe rinse). A rotating series of "pop-up" bartenders offers a new and, um, "human" take on a tired trend.
[Related: Listing for Alchemist; BlackBook San Francisco Guide]