The Cauldron’s Potion Making pop-up in Soho: Mixology and magic meet in an enchanting cocktail experience
Mixologists invite an easy comparison with alchemists. The detailed measurements; the crystal-clear liquids and colourful components; the attention paid to the gestures of stirring, twisting, whisking, shaking: everything supports this magical parallel. Add an atmospheric setting and the right props and you can easily understand how Potion Making has been such a great success. The Cauldron, the masterminds behind this enchanting operation, have worldwide outposts. Until now, despite its obvious appeal, the London branch in Dalston hasn’t been the easiest to reach for those living centrally. However, proving as resourceful as they are creative, the organisers decided to take the lifting of the outdoors restrictions as an opportunity to launch two pop-ups in Hoxton and Soho. While the secretive nature of the concept could get lost in this context, our visit to the Greek Street site means we get to explore the Wands & Wizard Exploratorium, a five-floor building already known for housing enchanting events and exhibitions.
Small parties can book a table for the experience and join forces to study molecular mixology, armed with wands and other specialised equipment. With the detailed, digitally accessible instructions, it would be difficult to err. Still, the potion master is always around to help and provide those extra magical ingredients of ice and flame. Or to escort us, at the very beginning, to the magical creature who will serve us the welcome drink.
After this initiation rite, we choose our two potions from the four concoctions on the menu, all also available with non-alcoholic substitutes. We start with the Botanical Brew, a gin-based tipple flavoured with earl grey. The adventure is completely hands-on, from the grinding of the herbs to the precise stirring of the infusion. There’s nothing too arduous that would require preparation in advance, but there are enough activities get everyone involved in the fun. Little tricks are thrown in here and there; the production uses a bit of science to add a pinch of charm. For our brew it is the “fairy dust” that brings the wow factor, mist overflowing from the cauldron to evoke a sense of witchcraft. The second tipple we sample is the Spaniard’s Revenge. The Wildfyre spell and the “phoenix ash” spice up the preparation for a smokey and punchy tequila cocktail.
Following the interactive session, the participants can continue to savour the enchantment with a selection of signature potions brought to the table already mixed by the professionals at the counter. The drinks continue to mesmerise, yet again finding a playful balance between science and mixology. Fire and alcohol conjure up a dramatic image, and the Dragon’s Breath matches this in its bold taste and appearance. Small and mighty, the Bubbling Shot of Death gurgles away like a neon-green vial of dangerous chemicals, while the smooth Transfiguration Toniq elegantly changes colour.
When transitioning from magic in the movies and books to real-life sorcery, it could be tricky to replicate the same spellbinding effects. Without emulating a specific style of storytelling, Potion Making by The Cauldron offers up an entertaining night thanks to a dazzling blend of interactive elements, innovative concoctions and bartender tricks.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at The Cauldron pop-up, The Wands & Wizard Exploratorium, 26 Greek Street Soho London W1D 5DE, visit their website here. As well as the cocktail making experience, the Wands & Wizard Exploratorium also hosts the Wizard Afternoon Tea and the Magic Wand workshop.