Architectural Foodsmiths Bompas and Parr have been up to their old tricks again, this time bringing a walk-in cloud of breathable cocktails to Borough Market, close to the duo’s studio. Renowned for their culinary wizardry and experiential gastronomy, Bompas and Par have wowed internationally with their off the wall creations including their jelly landmarks, Tutti Fruiti lake at Kew Gardens and Chromatopsia, where they died the River Lea emerald green during the Open East Festival in 2013.
Their current experiment is the latest immersive experience to emerge on London’s ever dynamic calendar, and having graced the capital under the same name in 2009 it’s not new. Described as ‘an installation that explodes drinks to the scale of architecture’, it features a vapour cloud composed of spirits and mixer at a ration of 1:3. When visitors enter the saturated air, alcohol enters the bloodstream in non-conventional ways, through the lungs and eyeballs.
"an alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide against a canvas of monastic mayhem, referencing the gothic splendour of neighbouring Southwark Cathedral"
With only two staff on the bar to serve a maximum of 50 people, the wait for a drink was a little disappointing. The menu was aptly presented like an order of service, and drinks were categorised into: Canonical Cocktails, Heavenly Tonics, non-alcoholic Celibate Cocktails and Sacred shots, with split shot glasses. Trappist Beers were also up for grabs - brewed within Trappist monastery’s by monks themselves. Monk-y business was my choice - no surprise there given its sweet, sugary rum taste.
When we left I could certainly tell I’d had more than one, and a bizarre sweet taste followed me all the way home - my senses still trying to work out what the hell just happened - along with a sticky feeling on my skin...a milder version of having a drink spilt on you in a club.
Overall the experience was quite surreal and certainly a unique way to explore how taste can be altered by synaesthesia. However, it could be improved if more had been made of the performance and setting; whilst the concept is great, the execution and curation could have been better. Had there been a strong host and more staff I might have thought differently but with so many people permitted for each designated time slot the individual experience seemed less considered - more 'herd of alcoholic enthusiasts' and less 'unique and refined experience'. Still, it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday eve even if it does feel a little ‘next generation ice bar’.
Author: Sarah Moor
1 Cathedral Street, Borough Market, Bankside
Tickets available until Jan 2016
Tip: Head straight to the bar first, inhale after