Imagine you’re on the beach, enjoying a rum and coconut concoction beneath a thatched umbrella, soaking up the sight and scent of the sea. Somehow, no matter how faithfully you follow the bartender’s recipe, that cocktail will never seem quite the same at home on a dreary, grey winter evening.
“Some drinks just taste right in a certain place, because context impacts flavour,” says Rashid Ghuloom, manager of The Berkeley’s Blue Bar in London, England. “So, we decided to recreate that place.”
The Berkeley Hotel has partnered with Bacardi Limited to introduce the “Out Of The Blue” extrasensory imbibing experience, using sight, smell and, of course, taste to establish the perfect environment for four different cocktails. With these immersive sipping sessions, a maximum of four guests are ushered into a small square room, where 360-degree films and molecular scents provide clues to the ingredients within a quartet of mystery cocktails.
Picture a more sophisticated version of a “Smell-O-Vision” movie theatre…but, y’know, with alcohol. So, you might find yourself sipping a fruity vodka mix, perhaps detecting a whiff of suntan cream in the air, as an extreme close-up of a pineapple exploding in slow-motion, Quentin Tarantino-style, plays out over four walls. Later, stay tuned for a whisky-based beverage, accompanied by footage of mossy streams and the smoky scent of peat and leather wafting through the room.
Guests inevitably try to guess all the ingredients before “the big reveal” is uncorked at the end of each drink’s individual film. It makes for a terrific ice-breaker, although there is, in fact, no ice in the cocktails. One is chilled by small metallic balls, but the rest rely solely on double-wall ceramic vessels containing a “sandwich” of stainless steel-encased gel to retain their optimum temperature.
No detail, it seems, was too small for The Blue Bar’s mix-masters to consider. “By serving drinks in their ideal context, it heightens their intensity,” Ghuloom explains. “It just spiralled in terms of technology.”
Cheers to high-tech tipples!