Did I mention that the kids are back? We’ve had them back for five days and, honestly, it’s like they’ve never been away. But they were away! For most of half term…and while they were, Nathan and I partied hard. Cinema, board games, works, contemporary dance shows..somebody stop me! And we went out for Valentines for the first time in living memory.
Where did we go? Well, that’s the question Nathan was asking as we boarded a train to Liverpool St, clutching a 70cl bottle of vodka. I spun him various yarns about bivouacing and rough sleeping and I’m not sure he believed me until we turned into a yard in a shadowy corner of Shoreditch with not much but a battered RV in it. He still hadn’t worked it out until I tentatively knocked on the door of the RV and a man in full yellow Hazmat suit and mask answered it.
Have you worked it out yet? Nathan had. We were 20 minutes early for our timeslot, so we sat on a sofa at the end of the yard protected from the freezing cold by only a thin sheet of tarpaulin. Maybe we were bivouacing after all.
Of course we weren’t. That would be a terribly outdoorsy thing to do and we were sissy hipsters for the night. What we were doing was “cooking” our own cocktails at ABQ London – an RV mocked up to look like a mobile meth lab. If you haven’t figured it put by now, you’re probably not conversant with Walter White’s finest work and so this whole experience may be a bit lost on you.
Cause trust me, it’s the experience you pay for. You bring your own alcohol, you have to do most of the work making it…it’s unclear exactly what your £25/head gets you. True, there are some fancy cocktail ingredients but essentially you’re paying to hang out in an expensive part of London in a theme bar.
But a cool theme.
And, of course, you get to drink the cocktails. It took a little while for things to get started on that front and I was never exactly sure what we going on as Jesse took our vodka and then he and Gale kinda jigged about a bit, looking very busy but not actually bringing us anything that we could make into anything drinkable. Our slot was 8-10 and we were still waiting for cocktail ingredients by 8:30. Still, they did turn up with everything we needed to make a 505 – the one with the dry ice. Woooo….effectsy….
So, if you’ve ever wondered what Cliff Richard’s stage set tastes like, it’s vodka. And rose and lychee. Strong but pretty drinkable. We moved hastily on to the Fly, a cola-caviar- and-nitrogen infused drink. I can safely say I’ve never had one of those before. This time, we had to infuse with the laughing gas and then let it sit for 5 minutes.
I should probably explain a bit about how this works – you had your base alcohol over, choose your cocktail and the guys in the yellow suits mix it up with the rose and lychee and whatever, yo (is it just me, or did that sentence not work too work? I don’t think rose and lychee are very gangsta, yo). Then you get the mix back in a shaker and you get to do the showy bit at the end – the dry ice or the infusing etc. But it comes with a small risk that your alcohol might get mixed up with someone else’s, which I think might have happened with the Fly. My first clue was the people next to us complaining that their drinks tasted of vodka, not gin. My second clue was our drinks tasting of gin, not vodka. We only realised once we’d done all the infusing and waiting stuff so we didn’t say anything, we just sucked it up. Well, Nathan did. I don’t like gin.
Two cocktails down and we reckoned we could fit that last one in before kick out at 10. Time for Tripped, a flavour changing cocktail that promised to send us out happily into the night. This one came with a slightly suspect bag of white powder but I’m assured it’s all legal. Again, it made for a strong cocktail and I wasn’t totally sold on the soluble-aspirin feel of the powder-in-liquid so I poured some of mine into Nathan’s when he wasn’t looking. I was also having some logistical difficulties. As my father would say, I had a drinking problem:
But it’s OK, I worked round it:
Nathan, meanwhile, had gone Full Heisenberg:
It was a fun evening and definitely different to anything we’d ever done before. There were a few operational things that made it feel a bit hit and miss (though it’s a meth lab staffed by a junkie…what dya expect?) and considering how much you pay, it’s not amazing value for money. We were probably making and drinking for an hour and a bit so there was a lot of waiting at the start and then we were aware we had to get out at the end. But hey, it’s an Experience in Shoreditch – they’re not famed for their cheapness.
So, I’d recommend it if you’re a big fan of the show and want to surprise a loved one with a unique night out (trust me, the look on Nathan’s face was worth it) but don’t be surprised if you come out feeling a little dazed and confused. Those were very strong cocktails after all…