First make an online reservation and receive a special return message. Arrive at the Midtown Filling Station and pass a storefront of blacked out windows. Then, locate the correct doorman and say the code word. Ours was “Fitzgerald.”
You’ll be led down a clandestine alleyway to a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper stands before an unmarked door. He explains that Alchemy follows traditional speakeasy etiquette: proper attire, no men in hats, and gentlemen must go through the bartender to ask for an introduction to a lady.
Following the rules is the only way to be admitted into Midtown Tallahassee’s Alchemy: a revival speakeasy bar paying homage to those who found a way to circumvent outlawed liquor during Prohibition. A speakeasy is actually defined as,”an establishment that was used for selling and drinking alcoholic beverages during Prohibition (1920-1933, longer in some states), when the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was illegal.” The term comes from a patron’s manner of ordering alcohol without raising suspicion – a bartender would tell a patron to be quiet and “speak easy”.
Once you enter the dimly light room with dark wood paneling, you can relax in comfortable booths with U-shaped leather seating. Knowledgeable bearded alchemists (resembling those famous Smith Brothers on the cigar box) will attend your table and answer questions.
Alchemy was the medieval science aiming to convert base metals into gold. In Tallahassee, alchemists are the bartenders who transform simple, quality substances into superb spirituous concoctions. They handcraft each drink using fresh ingredients, hand squeezed fruit juice and top shelf liquors.
I had a Bee’s Knees – a drink made from gin, lemon juice, a smidge of orange juice and local honey. It wasn’t too sweet but certainly didn’t have a sour sting. I enjoyed the libation so much, I sipped down two!
When in Tallahassee, Alchemy is a great place for people watching, relaxing with friends after dinner, or a weekend date. Sometimes they offer live music, but on the Saturday night I visited, I heard recorded tunes. Only wish they had kept with the 1920’s theme.
By the way, to exit the bar you go through the moveable bookcase that opens into the courtyard.
1122 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32303