It’s no small secret we love whisky. We mention it on Facebook a fair amount, we drink it a lot, and right above my desk sits an entire shelf dedicated to my favourite “daily drink”, Jack Daniels (let’s not get snobby).
Whisky stands as a king of drinks, but isn’t drinking with your mouth a little old fashion? Aren’t we tired of the ritual of gathering a clean glass, opening a bottle and maybe even ice (personally I prefer to freeze the glass I’m going to use). Well, no, not remotley, but never let us stand in the way of innovation.
Some fine folks at Bompas & Parr have created the first Vapourised Whisky Lounge, Alcohol Architecture. With a whopping 140% humidity, the air itself is almost literally dripping with whisky, seeping into your bloodstream via the lungs and eyes.
Vapourising alcohol has been a trend over the past few years, supposedly offering a quicker rush than conventional drinking booze, with fewer calories, but it’s not really caught on in the mainstream. No one order’s their drinks on a friday night out to be vapourised and drunk from a balloon, except maybe some flashy hipsters. Part of the reason for this is simply the hassle, in fact, there seems to be no point in vapourising your drinks, it gets you drunk quicker, but no more drunk and in the time taken to prepare the drink your typical reveller could match 3 or 4 drinks at a lower cost.
Alcohol Architecture isn’t about getting drunk though. Well, maybe a little, but Bombass & Parr aren’t publicians, they’re foodsmiths (kind of like a chef, but more sciency), who’ve created all manner of experiences with food and drink before. While looking up their new venture, I learned they’ve responsible for the tasting rooms at the Guinness Storehouse, officially the best place to drink Guinness in the world. The pair use a mix of architecture, rital and expectation to illicit response in the go-er, it’s more than just about the drink, Bompas & Parr are creating an experience for drinkers.
It’s often lamented that drinking establishments in England are closing at an alarming rate, but does some of that like with the carbon copied atmospheres? Most clubs are indistinguishable from each other, and bars are either the same collection of old carpets, dark wood and fruit machines or more retro establishments, trying to capture a whiff of class.
Alcoholic Architecture may be a new breed, ready to embed itself in the DNA of British drinking, but it also deeply rooted to the history of the area. This isn’t a flight of fancy project, this is an obvious labour of love, something riddled with fun and passion. The actual building was once used by Benedectine monks as a brewery, and the stain glassed windows echo this. Those same windows also pay homage to another use of the building, a bannana ripening faciltiy, by featuring the fruit in the art.
I decided to write about this not because I want to visit (which I most certainly do), or because I love the care taken in this project, or the innovation behind it, but because I think it says a lot about our sense of ritual. We adopted the smart phone, and now none of us can stop looking at our phones to check emails and text messages we’re marginally sure we felt but better check just in case you miss being the spark of attention for a second. We couldn’t be bothered counting change, so we just used cards, and now we can’t be bothered to remember our PIN’s so we’re just pressing our wallets to the screen (or our phones). Drinking whisky is a slow thing, it’s not meant to be hammered down in shots, but sipped as ice melts. It possesses a ritual of it’s own; gathering a clean glass, opening a bottle and maybe even ice before pouring it and savouring the flavour. Does it need to be pumped through our skin, or by making the process quicker and easier on the consumer are we robbing ourselves of the kind of centering, everyday magic in the task? Would I be this intrigued if it was merely a lager being inhaled?
We spend our lives living at high speed, the least we can do is keep our whisky relaxing.
Some food (or drink) for thought.