The Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture installation,opening in Borough Market on 30th July, featuring a walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail, is the world’s first alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide.
Spirits and liqueurs including Chartreuse, Benedictine, honey-based mead and even the notorious wine tonic Buckfast have for the first time been brought together in a cocktail collection that exclusively uses liquors whose origins lie in the abbeys and religious orders of Medieval Europe.
The monastic-inspired libations have been created especially for Alcoholic Architecture, the bar with a walk-in cocktail cloud that opens later this month on the site of a former monastery and across the road from the Gothic splendour of Southwark Cathedral.
The menu reappropriates taps into a drinking culture that emerged from monasteries’ need for self-sufficiency that saw them become adept cultivators of numerous botanicals over the centuries.
Bartenders wearing monastic-inspired couture outfits will serve drinks that also include Frangelico (famous for its bottle inspired by the garb of Franciscan monks, complete with rope around its ‘waist’), a collection of Trappist beers and ciders, and of course champagne (said to have been invented by a monk). Drinks are designed to complement the flavours of the walk-in cloud of cocktail that is Alcoholic Architecture’s signature attraction.
Against a canvas of medieval-inspired interiors, Miami pop – and with an albino python residing in the female toilets – the cocktail list is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to all-things monastic. From the list of Heavenly Tonics (all £6) you’ll find Buckfast, a tonic wine popular in Scotland where its alcohol and caffeine content is said to be associated with a huge proportion of violent crime in Scotland (to the extent that some Scottish legislators are said to be drafting legislation to stop the caffeinated intoxicant from entering their country) is now reclaimed and reimagined in a delicious highball. Also try the Frankincense-smoked G&T.
From the Canonical Cocktails list (all £8) the Mystery Mead mixes Lindisfarne mead with honey syrup, fresh lemon, sweet vermouth and rhubarb bitters; while the Friar Tucked balances Bénédictine with brandy, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe; and the Blasphemy to Nature pairs Buckfast Tonic Wine with Yellow Chartreuse, fresh lemon, sugar and egg white.
Sacred Shots at £5 include the Dirty Habit (equal measures of Buckfast and Scotch whisky) and the Franciscan Conversion (Frangelico layered with vodka). Mixed drinks for sharing include a loving cup made from a human skull. And for those who abstain from alcohol are a small collection of Celibate cocktails that emulate the taste of some of the renowned monastic-based spirits.
The bar is managed for Bompas & Parr by Johnny Brissenden, a bartender formerly of Tony Conigliaro’s Bar Termini and Soho House Group. He said: ‘Monks have been creating alcohol for centuries and it’s a real tribute to their prowess in cultivation, fermenting and distilling that we have such a great portfolio of liquids to play with. I’m looking forward to introducing new palates to these flavours and showing those familiar with the flavours how we have been able to use them in new ways.’
The drinks list is part of an installation that explodes drinks to the scale of architecture with a walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail. The cloud is entirely composed of fine spirits and mixer at a ratio of 1:3 and made using powerful humidifiers to super-saturate the air. Alcohol enters the bloodstream through the body’s mucus membranes: primarily the lungs but also the eyeballs.
Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr, said: “Liqueurs and spirits made by monks are a largely under-recognized category of spirits and liqueurs and form the creative backbone of our installation that complements the bar’s proximity to London’s oldest Gothic cathedral. Mixing that heritage with a breathable cloud of cocktail, a lick of Miami madness and a snake or two and we’re truly asking people to reimagine their relationship with drinking.”