London’s Alcoholic Architecture Bar Reinvents Getting the Vapors

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Mixology and meteorology make unlikely but surreal and vaporized bedfellows at Sam Bompas and Harry Parr's new London bar venture, Alcoholic Architecture. ( photo)
Mixology and meteorology make unlikely but surreal and vaporized bedfellows at Sam Bompas and Harry Parr’s new London bar venture, Alcoholic Architecture. ( photo)

Talk about entering a drunken haze!

Culinary creationists Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are known worldwide for pushing the boundaries of food and art, and the newly opened Alcoholic Architecture bar in London is just the latest example. The architectural foodsmith’s newest installation at Borough Market references the Gothic architecture of the adjacent Southwark Cathedral and sits below the site of a former monastery.

(Bompas and Parr Instagram photo)
(Bompas and Parr Instagram photo)

The ethereal spirits and beers featured at Alcoholic Architecture are vaporized and released into the air in the cocktail chamber, which is kept at 140-percent humidity. And the entire menu of libations stays with the theme of early-Medieval experimentations with alcohol, as every choice on the drink list is “entirely comprised of spirits and beers created by monks.”

It is “an alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide against a canvas of monastic mayhem,” the artists said on their website. And just so you stay alert, the place comes complete with a sign that warns to “Breathe Responsibly.” Even stranger, entrants are required to wear clear ghost-like ponchos with hoods to safely partake in the potent potations.

(Bompas and Parr Instagram photo)
(Bompas and Parr Instagram photo)

A CNN correspondent who reviewed the airy-alcohol location described it as quite a surreal experience. “It’s almost impossible to know whether you’re drunk from the visual cues, actual fumes, or punch-in-the-mouth cocktails,” she wrote after visiting.

To prevent accidental overexposure to cocktails with names like “Friar Tucker,” time in the booze-mist is limited to one hour. The alcohol is absorbed into the body through the lungs and eyes. It takes about 40 minutes to absorb a large libation, and one hour is equivalent to approximately one shot of hard liquor or a single mixed drink.

From food art using jelly molds to the alcohol mist, Bompas and Parr have unleashed many intriguing food and drink-related installations around the world. The artists also created the exhibit, “FUNLAND: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground” at the Museum of Sex in New York. There, museum visitors, unlike at other institutions, are encouraged to touch and feel the objects, which include jumping in a breast-filled bouncy castle.

A trip into the London mist of Alcoholic Architecture costs 10 pounds. It was opened July 31 and will be open until early 2016. And because the artists don’t want anyone underage getting an unlawful contact high, entry to the bar is restricted to adults 18 years of age and over. (The legal drinking age in the U.K. is 18, not 21 as it is in the U.S.)

So hop on over the pond to get your drink on. Because — unlike another picture of your cat being cute — it’s sure to be an Internet post-worthy experience. And how many people will ever be able to truly say they literally inhaled a cocktail?

Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.

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