Alchemy – a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination. This could not be a more appropriate name as this is exactly what goes on in this lively little bar, tucked away on one of Santa Catalina’s less trodden roads.
Pepe, owner, mixologist and master of illusion opened this gem in 2015 and it has been going from strength to strength ever since. On the night we were in there was a wonderful mix of local Mallorquians, expats and yacht crew. People of all ages were enjoying the relaxed ambiance that has been created by the chessboard floor, jazz musicians on the walls and soul funk on the stereo. A particularly raucous group of septuagenarian Spanish ladies really had the place buzzing and were a wonderful reminder of how ageless this island is.
Gin first came on the scene back in the 1700’s when William of Orange brought the Dutch version of Jenever over to Britain. At the height of the craze in the mid-1700s there were more than 8,000 gin distilleries in London alone, prompting the government to bring in new laws to prohibit its distillation and sale, as rich and poor alike were literally gin-soaked in the streets. This led to rioting and illegal distilling and has been likened to the war on drugs that we face today. Whilst calmer times may have descended on our beloved spirit, the name of which derives from the Latin for Juniper, and thankfully not the turpentine that used to be added back in the day, there is still somewhat of a fever surrounding it.
A proper Spanish GinTonic, sans the ampersand, is a delight to behold and Pepe does the famous drink proud. Resplendent in a fishbowl glass overflowing with ice cubes, delicate tiny flecks of glowing pink float through the liquid. They are minute pieces of chilli from the delicious Schweppes Chilli Tonic which adds a mischievous edge to an already fun drink. It didn’t take long to get used to the Spanish way of serving and it’s a constant disappointment when returning to the UK, that the drink there lacks a little je ne se sais quoi.
GinTonic from one of the 100-150 gins that Pepe has in stock at any one time, is only one of many different cocktails on offer and we were lucky enough to sample a few more. Anouska, as ever my talented photographer for the night, started off with a Gimlet made with Scotland’s Tanqueray Rangpur gin, syrup and lime juice. Though the origin of the name is contested, my favourite tale is that it was named after the tool for drilling small holes, alluding to its piercing effect on the drinker… It came served in a chilled martini glass and was the perfect combination of sweet and sour.
Next up for my visitor from London, Nicky, great friend and enjoyer of cocktails, was the delicious Gold Martinez. Slightly sweeter than a normal Dry Martini it was made from extra dry gin, sweet white vermouth, a dash of angostura and a spoon of maraschino. The cocktail is mixed not stirred and served with a filigree of lemon. The olives are on the side. When brought up to taste there was a warming scent about it and this followed through into its flavours.
We rounded off the night with two of my all-time favourite cocktails – the Espresso Martini and the Moscow Mule. The recipe of which, Pepe has kindly shared with us. These classics had definitely had Pepe’s self-taught alchemical magic worked on them and we were positively glowing by the time we left.
Alchimia Gin Club is open Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 1:30am and Fridays and Saturdays until 2:30am. There is a small terrace with four tables outside, if you wish to take your gin alfresco. Snacks of monkey nuts and crisps are on offer which means that the busiest times are pre and post dinner. Pepe is planning on organising a crew tasting event soon so keep an eye out for the invitation on the Facebook Page Alchimia Gin Club and let him weave his magic on you too.
Alchimia Gin Club – Carrer de Cervantes, 13, Palma, Balearic Islands, 07013
Tel : 971 909 698
By Victoria Pearce
Photos by Anouska Foss.