Sam Bompas & Harry Parr, two of London’s most celebrated mixologists, have taken on a new challenge called Alcoholic Architecture. The novel venture is an alcohol-induced, meteorological installation called the cocktail cloud.
The journey begins as you descend though a dimly lit corridor into the underbelly of what used to be an ancient monastery. A changing room provides plastic ensembles to cover your clothing and hair before entering the crypt-like bar. Once inside mixologists serve up a bevy of monk-inspired drinks like Chartreuse, Benedictine, Trappist beer and Buckfast fortified wine. From there a short step and you’re inside the Cloud.
The dense atmosphere is slightly disconcerting with modulated music and flashing lights. You stand inside this sensory atmosphere as a thunderstorm builds and the alcohol cloud becomes so thick – 140 percent – that you can’t see more than 3 feet in front of you.
After a time you start to deconstruct and appreciate the nuance and flavor of spirits as you take them retronasally. The majority of the flavor is still perceived on your tongue but you are also absorbing alcohol into your lungs and through your eyeballs. It has been described as an attack upon your senses.
There is little danger but visitors are allocated one-hour slots to keep alcohol consumption within a reasonable limit.
For those who want to up the ante there are a number of drinks you can imbibe traditionally such as canonical cocktails, mystery meads and sacred shots created in homage to the ancient monks by mixologist Johnny Brissenden, formerly of Tony Conigliaro’s Bar Termini and the Soho House Group.