Hmmmm – a monk-themed cloud bar you say… Where one inhales alcohol while dressed in a plastic poncho… And you actually drink through your eyeballs… What’s not to like?! So I find myself at the door of Alcoholic Architecture in London’s Southwark preparing to enter an alcoholic cloud of gin and tonic.
Alcoholic Architecture is a pop-up bar on the site of an old monastery opposite Southwark Cathedral. As it is on the site of an old monastery all of the alcohol on sale is of the kind brewed and imbibed by monks – Trappist beers and ciders, Chartreuse, Absinthe, you know just your usual Saturday afternoon tipple… Anyway to visit this monastic establishment you have to buy tickets in advance for an allotted time slot of one hour – apparently it’s dangerous to drink through your eyeballs for longer than an hour – I’m not really sure how they worked that one out.
We were ten minutes late for our slot – which on the plus side at least meant we missed the queuing element of the visit – but on the negative side of things curtailed our inhaling time by over 15%. And after a brief introduction by the monk-attired doorman – who warned us that we had to breathe responsibly as we would be drinking the finest Gin and Tonic cocktail through our lungs and eyeballs – we were ready to enter. The ‘monk’ also promised to be our guide for the experience – but he was pretty quick to close the door on us once we started walking down the narrow spooky staircase, with music eerily playing – so he was clearly just playing the part… I must admit I was a little disappointed.
Upon arrival in the ‘cloakroom’ we traded our coats for plastic ponchos designed to protect our clothing (and hair) from the moistness of the cloudy vapours. Quick warning at this point – do not go to Alcoholic Architecture (or indeed any other cloud bar) if your hair has a tendency to frizz out in humidity (think Monica from Friends in the Barbados), and I would say exercise caution if you’ve just had a new ’do or are indeed meeting a hot date later – as cloud vapours are not the smart hairstyle’s friend.
Macs on, we then headed through the small bar straight to The Cloud. Big mistake – upon arrival in The Cloud (which in fact is a very small, cramped room where everything is blue, cloudy, and moist) we quickly realized that everyone else seemed to have a drink in hand. Ah ha – so it seems that although the experience is all about inhaling through your lungs and eyeballs – having a drink in hand also helps… Actually on further investigation I found out that by breathing in the booze fumes you actually then only have to consume 60% of your usual alcohol consumption to achieve your usual level of drunkenness – or something like that. Anyway – again not really sure how they worked that one out…
So we did a quick turn about and went back to the bar ordered some true-life G&Ts (funnily enough I didn’t really fancy Absinthe at 5pm…) and headed back to The Cloud.
We then imbibed and inhaled gin for around half an hour. It was a novel experience though not the comfiest of surroundings – and when we popped back to the bar for a breather, we practically had to wrestle our real-life G&Ts from the over-zealous monk bar tender who said our time was nearly up so we may as well hand them over now. Anyway all too soon our time was up and we were shooed out of the bar quicker than quick can be.
Back on the streets of Southwark there was already a big queue for the next time slot and the doorman monk who had promise to be with me for my experience was promising these newbies the exact same thing. Luckily for him drinking through my eyeballs hadn’t actually rendered me very drunk – so I wasn’t about to heckle him and tell them all he was lying through his eyeballs and was in fact going to be closing the door on them in a matter of minutes!
All in all I’d say that Alcoholic Architecture was an enjoyable experience – but not one to be repeated – or even particularly recommended… And I definitely think it’s more effective – not to mention enjoyable – to drink through your mouth!