The long days of “I need a drink” may be over. With London’s latest pop-up bar, guests breathe in their booze. Alcoholic Architecture, a new installation from the culinary wizard team of Bompas & Parr, is a fully immersive “walk-in cloud bar"—sort of a drinker’s dreamscape, a heavenly hangout where you can literally be swallowed by alcohol.
“We do a drink for the bar as a whole at a time, but this can be paired with a lively menu of drinks,” co-founder Sam Bompas recently told Playboy. “We are asking everyone to breath responsibly.”
But this isn’t just some dive with liquored-up smoke machines. It’s an entire atmosphere. Launching in the foggy city’s Borough Market, at the site of an ancient monastery, a beautifully crafted experience awaits the lady lushes and gentleman party animals of London proper.
“Creatively, the installation draws inspiration from Borough Market’s produce, medieval history and weather to create a sci-fi fantasy where meteorology and mixology collide,” Bompas explained. “Visiting Alcoholic Architecture will generate the same sort of awe and wonder we have all probably experienced when gazing up at the night’s sky. Imagine Disney meets De Sade in Barbarella’s castle by way of Medieval Times with flagons of ale!”
The soon-to-be hot spot kicks off its adventure with a perennial summer favorite, the gin and tonic, when the bar opens for business July 31. There’s a lot more to come in Alcoholic Architecture’s six-month run, though, as the world’s most celebrated bartenders are being invited to create their own cloud concoctions, along with their pairing spirits.
What may be the wildest part of any of this is that breathing cocktails, rather than drinking them, can actually make the booze tastier and—here’s the kicker—healthier.
“The high humidity level enhances flavor perception, and the vapor itself can be paired with a specially curated menu of drinks presented in the regular format [in a glass],” said Bompas. “[By breathing alcohol], it bypasses the liver, allowing you to consume 40 percent less, with correspondingly reduced calories and headaches, to feel the same effect!”
Thanks to the work of humidifiers, the "cocktail cloud” is predominantly absorbed through guests’ lungs and eyeballs, which is easily the most futuristic way to get drunk. A large (breathable) “drink” takes roughly 40 minutes to absorb, and a session is only £10 (about $15).
In addition to Alcoholic Architecture, Bompas & Parr have a whole sleeve of upcoming tricks, so keep an eye on their antics and experiments. The duo is finishing up their sixth cookbook about extreme cocktails, figuring out how to host their first retrospective at an international art gallery, and putting together a few small-scale workshops. One of those workshops, called Gut Feelings, is “a practical talk through the art and style of finding omens in food as practiced across the ages,” followed by an in-character performance of Cibelle Cavalli Bastos as her conceptual “multidimensional cosmic healer and fortune teller” Sonja Khalecallon.
So between the circuses that Bompas & Parr curate and explore, we were damn curious to know what a mad scientist like Bompas likes to drink (rather than breathe) in his free time.
“I always appreciate a frosty Bouldvadier, the swaggering cousin of the Negroni,” he told us. “Just swap out your gin for rye or bourbon and serve in a chilled up-glass garnished with a maraschino cherry. And if the glass ain’t sweaty, it ain’t right!”
Breathe up, me hearties.
HERE’S ANOTHER AMAZING BAR