A walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail will be created by food and drink innovators Bompas & Parr when they open their own bar in London.
They have taken over part of a Victorian building in Borough Market that will open as Alcoholic Architecture on July 30. The installation is described as “the world’s first alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide”.
The bar will be in the basement of a building that was once the original offices of the trustees of Borough Market and, before that, a banana store for unripe fruit arriving from the West Indies. It will source many ingredients for its drinks list from Borough Market itself.
Guests will be asked to don special protective suits to enter. The cloud is entirely composed of fine spirits and mixers at a ratio of 1:3 and made using powerful humidifiers to super-saturate the air. Alcohol enters the bloodstream through the body’s mucus membranes: primarily the lungs but also the eyeballs.
With humidity at 140%, there is so much alcohol in the air that you can see less than a metre but the high humidity level enhances flavour perception. By breathing the cocktail, the alcohol bypasses the liver, allowing you to consume 40% less – with correspondingly reduced calories – to feel the same effect.
Bompas & Parr has worked with respiratory scientists and chemists to calculate safe dwell times guests can remain in the cloud.
Once inside, people will be able to order further cocktails from a menu that complements the taste profile of the breathable beverage.
The project builds on Bompas & Parr’s 2009 pop-up installation in Soho of the same name but their latest bar will be open for six months.
As well as being sited next to London’s most renowned food market, the local history of the area provides inspiration for the menu and the formulation of the cloud.
Alcoholic Architecture will be in One Cathedral Street next to Southwark Cathedral – the UK’s earliest gothic cathedral – and on the site of an ancient monastery. These themes are channelled through a drinks list entirely comprising spirits and beers created by monks such as Chartreuse, Bénédictine, Trappist beers and even Scotland’s notorious fortified wine, Buckfast.
Interiors are inspired by a collision between Miami Deco and the “faux-medievalism” of Jim Jarmusch’s Loudon in The Devils and augmented artwork by Tom Sewell. Staff uniforms are designed by Olivia Hegarty of Percival Clothing and combine “the flair of the continental waiter with the ecclesiastical swagger of a dandified cleric”.
Sound design comes from Dom James, a man once described as the “Scriabin of Kennington”. The music playing in the bar is transmuted inside the cloud so it sounds like you are taking a journey to the centre of the glass – hear the ice tinkle, marvel at the sub-surface acoustic. Playlists are created by Nicholas Hadfield.
Harry said: “With Alcoholic Architecture we are going for maximal intensity of cocktail experience. With every breath you take, notice a fresh botanical or flavour in the spirit that can be hard to discern in a regular drink. Taste the cloud, savour the sky.”
Sam added: “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.
“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!”
Keith Davis, managing director of Borough Market, said: “We’re always interested in partnerships that explore food and drink experiences in innovative and interesting ways. We’re proud of our 1,000-year heritage but events like this continue to prove Borough Market’s relevance today.”
Tickets are available on www.bompasandparr.com. Hour time slots are priced at £10 off peak (all Monday, all Tuesday, before 5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and before 4pm on Fridays) and £12.50 peak (Thursday after 5pm, Friday after 4pm and all day Saturday ending at 10pm).
Each visitor is limited to one hour of entry per day to ensure alcohol is enjoyed responsibly. This equates to breathing a regular spirit and mixer drink.
Bompas & Parr was founded in 2007 as a “craft jellymonger” and now employs a 16-strong team of creative specialists, designers, architects, cooks, technicians and administrators who work across a wide range of projects.
The team works to experiment, develop, produce and install projects, artworks, jellies and exhibitions and also acts as consultants to some of the world’s biggest food and drinks brands on new product development, promotional activity and other marketing initiatives.