One weekend in November Cindy, Marcelle, Riaan and I went to what was most definitely the coolest bar I’ve been to in my life! So naturally when Hein & Britt came to visit in December we had to take them there.
Before I tell you where this most awesome of bars is, I would like to set the scene…
This bar is situated basically across the road from a beautiful Gothic Cathedral (Southwark Cathedral), and it used to be a monastery for the monks of this church. The monks used to eat, sleep,and live in this monastery, they even brewed their own alcohol in it, pretty cool huh!
So, if you show up and the place looks closed, ring the bell! A gent dressed in robes will come up and tell you when the next session is. (They have a session on the hour, every hour and strangely it’s cheaper if you just show up rather than booking in advance.)
On both occasions we arrived a bit before the session began, so we had a wander through the neighbouring Borough Market sampling cheese and savoury snacks. When it was almost time for our first session to begin we made our way back to the monastery and waited with baited breath, excited to enter this mysterious place!
The monk (I can only assume that this is what he is supposed to be) comes up, collects your entrance fee, gives you a stamp and then gives you a quick rundown of what you’re going to experience and how it works. (Basically they have vapourised 25 litres of gin and tonic and they fill the room with all this vapour over a 45-50 minute session) You are advised not to hyperventilate (or run around) – ah damn, seems they had me all figured out!
Once all the formalities are done with you are let in, you walk down a narrow dimly lit staircase, gregorian chants play softly and candles flicker as you pass them. At the bottom of the staircase you enter a cloakroom where you stash all your belongings and remove all coats, scarves, jerseys etc. These get replaced with a very stylish poncho! (Pro: It protects your clothes from getting wet and you from getting sticky. Also works as a raincoat if you forgot your umbrella at home – like we did! Cons: It stops your exposed skin from absorbing G&T. It’s not all that stylish, unless you like the Dexter look and people WILL stop and stare at the 6 of you walking down the road in pouring rain/entering the pub wearing matching ponchos.)
Once you’re all kitted out you are free to roam, you can get a drink at the bar, or head straight to the vapour room and claim your spot by the humidifier vent that lets all the cocktail vapour goodness into the room. Naturally, we went with the latter option.
Walking into the room is probably what it feels like walking into a chilled-out-nightclub-cloud, you can barely see infront of you, the humidity is at 160, the air is thick with breathable cocktail vapour, and it tastes funny (unless your a G&T person, then it’s probably delicious). It’s all rather exciting! *cue the hyperventilating*
Every now and again the music dies down to a rumble and the lights flicker and if you close your eyes real tight you feel like you’re on a ship out at sea in the middle of a massive storm!
During your 45-50 minute session you inhale and absorb through your eyeballs and skin the equivalent of 3 gin and tonics (without any of the calories! Dreams do come true! Lolz) in addition to whatever you buy at the bar. So relax, have fun, breathe deeply, blink as little as possible and enjoy a drink or five!
My honest opinion: Of the two times we went, the first was most definitely a better experience, it was more effective if I can put it that way. We arrived at an odd time (4pm on a random Saturday afternoon), so there were only a few people in the room. On the second visit there were a lot more people in the room so the vapour barely had a effect on us, which was unfortunate. If this had happened the first time I would not have gone back. The room isn’t all that big, you really realise this if there are a lot of people in the room as the vapour doesn’t hang around much what with all the breathing going on.
So if this tickles your tastebuds…or eyeballs, this is what you really want to know:
You can find Alcoholic Architecture at 1 Cathedral Street, London.
Closest underground station: London Bridge
Cost: Varies depending on the time of day. When we went it was £10 at the door, £12.50 online (a £2.50 booking fee applies)
Ideal for: People who want a fun, different kind of bar experience.
Not for: People who want to sit down and have quiet, boring old drink. Go to the pub!
My tips: Go when it’s not likely to be too busy (earlyish). -Girls, wear a beanie to protect your hair and take a make-up touch up kit with you. Wet wipes and tissues also come in handy afterwards!
Until next time,