Alchemist DreamsHand-Crafted Liqueurs For The Senses | 0 Comments
ARTISAN LIQUEURS FROM THE LABORATORY OF A MAD SCIENTIST
Delicious hand-crafted liqueurs, flavoured with the finest ingredients and carefully blended by the Alchemist herself.
Alchemist Dreams sells custom liqueurs, blended to order from a range of lovingly handcrafted flavours, made in very small batches by the Alchemist herself. Design your own flavour or choose from popular house blends like Black(berry) Magic – a mysterious blend of blackberry, ginger and Szechuan pepper.
Alchemist Dreams was dreamt up by Ruth Ball, chemistry graduate, artist, activist and game maker, as she sat in a listed building late one summer night, contemplating her future. But it wasn’t until she was waiting on a grey industrial estate, to interview for a job in paint, that she decided to make it a reality. Because artists don’t make house paint. Mad scientists don’t make house paint. They make dreams. Founded in early 2011, Alchemist Dreams offers a constantly developing range of liqueurs with more than 20 flavours currently available and at least one new flavour added every month.
People who have had their imaginations fired and their appetites whet by molecular mixology and Heston Blumethal’s experimental cuisine will relish the ability to design their own liqueur on the Alchemist Dreams website.
Each liqueur blend starts with a fruity base flavour (blackberry, raspberry, blueberry or orange) onto which accents are layered from a choice of flavours ranging from classic (vanilla) to exotic (Szechuan pepper), from spicy (black pepper) to naughty (wormwood), from indulgent (cacao) to comforting (nutmeg). Accents even include roses and chocolates, for that special someone. London’s foodie scene can’t get enough of the Alchemist’s blends. A monthly stall at Leadenhall Market in the heart of the city tempts the adventurous with tastings, and the arty types of east London’s Stour Space artists’ collective are also fans. In the next couple of months you can find the Alchemist at The Underground Night Market, a “food rave” hosted by Ms Marmite Lover, hostess of the original London supper club and author of Supper Club: Notes and Recipes from The Underground Restaurant. There’s something else in the works too – something which blends steampunk and robots, science and love. But we’ve said too much. Its not ready to come out of the lab just yet.
Each flavour starts with an organic, neutral grain spirit which is infused with carefully selected ingredients in hand-blown glass bottles. Each flavour takes its own time, carefully watched for the right moment. Delicate rose petals could turn from sweet to bitter in a day whereas cocoa nibs take over a month to impart their rich flavour. When the time is right the spirit is strained through chef’s muslin, then passed through a fine filter to leave it clear and ready to blend. The finished flavours wait for an order to be placed and for The Alchemist to take a little of this and a little of that, until the blend is just right, before finishing off with sugar syrup and pure spring water. Finally the bottle is tied up with a red ribbon, sealed with black wax and the personalised, hand printed label is attached.
Start Blending: Our Flavour Bases
King of the hedgerows, this rich blackberry liqueur complements deeper flavours like cinnamon, cardamom or clove as well as fiery Szechuan or black pepper.
The quintessential English summer fruit, our raspberry liqueur is light, sweet and fragrant. It combines best with other light, floral notes such as vanilla, rose, juniper or elderberry.
When we started thinking about Christmas liqueurs we knew there could only be one fruit base. From the orange in the stocking to the zest in the pudding, this is the only flavour to see us through the cold winter months. Made just from the zest of the fruit our orange liqueur is fresh, tangy and versatile.
We’ve used fresh blueberries to create this delicate and vibrantly coloured liqueur. Mix it gently with other light flavours like elderberry, nutmeg, cacao or lavender.
We recommend using a fruit base because that makes it almost impossible to choose a combination which doesn’t work. If you’re confident, or you’re looking for pure flavours to make cocktails, then choose this option and go straight to the accents. But don’t worry, if we think you chose something that doesn’t work we’ll email you to check what you want.
Fresh in for the summer. Lime is a classic cocktail companion found in everything from mojito to Moscow mule, Cuba libre to cosmopolitan. Now its time for lime to stop hiding in the background and take centre stage as our newest base flavour. We use just the zest of the lime for a little extra bite.
LIMITED EDITION Made with just the centres of some beautiful fresh figs, we only made a couple of litres of this spirit before realising it was too time consuming to make all the time. Make sure you get a taste before it disappears!
Start Blending: Our Accents
The prevalence of cheap, artificial vanilla might make us think it ordinary, but real vanilla remains one of the world’s most prised and expensive spices. We infuse whole Madagascan vanilla pods to produce an intense vanilla flavour. Just a little will add complexity to any blend.
In ancient times the origin of the cinnamon brought down the spice road from the exotic east was a mystery in the west. But losing the mystery doesn’t make our cinnamon liqueur any less rich and delicious. Combine it with traditional flavours like clove and orange or try a more unexpected pairing.
Juniper is the classic gin flavour. Even the word gin comes from the French name for juniper: genevre. Add this to any blend that needs a light, sweet note which does not overpower other flavours.
Red Cinchona Bark *UV active*
Red Cinchona bark is the natural ingredient which gives tonic water its distinctive taste. It also has a special side-effect. It glows blue under UV light! Add a little of this to your blend to make it UV active. Get the best glow with green or colourless flavours like lime or chocolate.
Another of the most prized spices of the ancient orient, each clove is a tiny flower bud picked before it can blossom. Our clove liqueur is rich, deep and spicy; the ideal companion to other rich flavours like blackberry, cinnamon or cardamom.
Wormwood is the most notorious ingredient of the scourge of 19th century Paris: absinthe. ‘The Green Fairy’ was blamed for the madness of Van Gogh, banned throughout France and caused Oscar Wilde to see tulips on his legs. Sadly wormwood has since been proved harmless. So while it might not make you into a great artist you can still add a dash of wormwood to give your blend a touch of Parisian glamour along with a vivid green colour.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but will it taste as good? Our rose liqueur, infused from dried red rose petals, divides people like none of our other flavours. Some people just love its delicate, floral flavour which pairs well with raspberry, vanilla, juniper and elderberry, but others find floral flavours just too much to handle.
Made from fresh ginger root, this liqueur is much more fiery and fresh-tasting than the ground ginger used for baking. It still tastes just as good with its traditional partners like cinnamon and nutmeg, but also mixes nicely with fresher and fruitier flavours.
Once grown only on one tiny, fiercely fought over island; each nutmeg tree takes nine years to produce its first fruit. We think its well worth the wait. Luckily it infuses faster than it grows and takes just three weeks to become a sweet, fragrant liqueur best combined with a heavier spice like cinnamon or clove to lift the flavour.
Named after the region in China where it originates, Szechuan pepper is unrelated to black pepper and chilli peppers. Its tiny seed pods are not hot but instead strong, fragrant and slightly lemony. The aroma comes out beautifully in this liqueur which mixes best with other exotic flavours like ginger, cardamom or wormwood.
A classic flavour, no dish passes through a British, French or Italian kitchen without a sprinkling of black pepper. We like it on crisps, in cream sauces and coating salamis but did you know it is also mixed with rose as the base for some of the finest perfumes? Or that pairing it with strawberry is a close-kept bartender’s secret? You’ll be surprised how many flavours are enhanced by a touch of black pepper liqueur.
Lavender may have dowdy associations with your grandmother’s house, but it would be a mistake to dismiss this aromatic flower. In Provence, with its miles of sun-drenched, rolling purple fields, they’ve been adding lavender to their chocolates and cakes for a very long time. Pair a touch of lavender with sweet, light flavours like cacao, vanilla, juniper and blueberry.
Elderberries are often overlooked for the lighter flavour of the elderflowers that are used to make the classic cordial. However, we love their earthy flavour which adds a lovely depth to lighter flavours like blueberry.
The complex, aromatic flavour of Green Cardamom can add a special something to your blend. Combine it with ginger or cinnamon like in many Scandinavian Christmas recipes or try complementing it with sweet flavours like raspberry, vanilla and cacao.
Cacao or chocolate - has a bad reputation in liqueurs, thanks to a legion of sickly cream liqueurs and cheap mudslides. Ours is different though. Made from raw cocoa nibs our chocolate is clear, rich, intense and, if we don’t add syrup, has a bitter bite. We’ll normally blend it semi-sweet but just let us know if you would prefer less sugar.
Enjoyed the world over, coffee is an important part of most people’s daily routine. We use Columbian Arabica beans for a full, rich taste with a strong hit of caffeine. Combine with cardamom for a middle-eastern flavour or with chocolate for a very naughty mocha.
White blossoms nodding in sunlit hedgerows, this light, sweet flower makes a classic Victorian cordial and is perfect for a summer’s day. Try a traditional pairing such a lime or ginger or combine with other light flavours such as raspberry or nutmeg.
A classic Italian herb, the usually savoury basil has been sneaking its way into many a unexpected recipe. Whether its contrasting with sweet strawberry in a cocktail or complementing the bitter lemon of a sorbet, there’s more to basil than pasta sauce. Try starting with raspberry or orange and see where the flavours lead you…
About Alchemist Dreams
Alchemist Dreams (founded 2011) produces and sells artisanal liqueurs, handcrafted in south London. You can find out more and buy liqueurs at food markets and events in London and selected other UK locations or on the Alchemist Dreams website (http://www.alchemistdreams.co.uk), where you can create your own custom blend from 20 different flavours. Alchemist Dreams is the brainchild of Ruth Ball, an artist, an activist and a gamesmaker from the foothills of the peak district who drifted into the big city and started exploring. She’s became a secret agent of The Space Hijackers, explored the catacombs under Camden, shot zombies on Hampstead Heath, put red pants on a golden talking plinth in an art gallery, taught Shibari to activists, congaed 17km non-stop for charity and helped to break a world record and buy a tank and then… She was supposed to stop all that, put on a suit and get excited about insurance instead. But she was never good at doing as she was told. So she put on a black velvet cloak, slipped into the shadows and became the Alchemist.