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After missing out on the chance to attend this Breaking Bad themed popup when it was in Hackney Wick, the team jumped at the chance to attend the ABQ London at its new location in Shoreditch.
You may remember from the post we wrote in November 2015 that Seb Lyall (Founder of Lollipop, the group behind ABQ London) said the ABQ team were having a break over Christmas before re-homing the RV at an undisclosed new location. Well on Thursday 4th Feb this month the team reopened the doors to their Breaking Bad meth lab inspired pop up bar.
Having served over 9,000 people over their 4 month stint at the end of 2015, the team have spent the last two months refurbishing the RV and making a new, more molecular, cocktail list. The new layout of the RV has been optimised to accommodate a full cooking experience for pairs and groups of 4,6 or 8 people. So even if you did manage to attend this popular popup the first time round it will be quite a different experience in Shoreditch.
So with our booking confirmed, one of the first things we noticed was that ticket price has reduced this time round from £30 last time to £25 this time round. The time slot is still two hours, but this time round those wanting to ‘cook’ will be requested to bring their own base booze (sudo!), but will be provided with all acids, chemicals, potions and other stuff to cook up Breaking Bad style cocktails. It is advised to bring a closed bottle of Vodka, Rum, Whisky or Gin and quantity wise (35cl) per person or one big bottle (70cl) per two persons. In the two hour slot the ‘cooking’ and drinking of 2-3 cocktails is believed to be the quota per person. This time non booked customers can try their luck to drop in between Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 6pm – 12am.
The team arrived in Shoreditch on Thursday ready for the launch having first looked at the directions on the location (we strongly recommend you do the same as there is no signposting the only giveaway is the RV in the car park).
We arrived at the location and headed into the car park to the RV, I must admit we did a lap of the RV to look for the best route inside, but for your benefit just open the main door and you will be met by the staff.
As you can imagine the launch night was a busy time and when we entered the RV it was buzzing, however we were shown our table and began to soak up the unique atmosphere. The staff are dressed in yellow protective overalls and breathing equipment to replicate those worn by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman when creating their crystal meth in the hit TV show Breaking Bad. On each table there is an array of science lab style beakers, measuring jars & carbonated H20.
We were given a menu explaining the concept and the types of cocktails we could expect to experience, the staff took our bottle of Gin to the bar. We ordered our first cocktail (gin based) called 505 consisting of Vodka, Gin, Maple, Rose & Lychee formed into a Martini cocktail with a twist! (One thing to note when ordering is that if you are two people you have to both have the same cocktail).
Bearing in mind that during the two hour session only two to three cocktails can be made, we recommend ordering soon after getting the menu. We noticed that the preparation time of each cocktail does take a while for the staff to get ready, but after all you are there for a unique cocktail experience and these things take time.
When the cocktail arrives, in our case on a trolley pushed by a staff member in full yellow suit, you get a separate instructional menu which tells you how to put it together. The apparatus are laid out on the table and we set about following the instructions. This is the part we were most unsure about as initially we thought that the two hour session cocktail ‘cooking’ meant we would be in a class being instructed then making our own, we soon worked out this is not the case and it is more a ‘make your own’ cocktail experience.
We worked our way through the instructions which included the ‘twist’ dry ice smoke infusion, which is added at the end and creates a cool smoking effect in the glass. The cocktail was delicious so we set about ordering our second one, we chose a cocktail called FLY, and again waited for it to be prepped. By this stage the team felt it would have been nice to have some nibbles on the table, but alas that want the case.
The second cocktail arrived with the flair and showmanship of the first and again we were handed an instructional menu and the equipment was laid out for us to make our own. The Fly consists of vodka, gin, cola caviar, Xanthan gum, sodium alginate, calcium lactate and finally the twist Nitrous Oxide!
We again followed the instructions and the preparation was a lot of fun using all the unique apparatus, certainly the best mixology experience I have had hands on.
So far the process had taken around one and a half hours, so we spoke to the staff to see what was recommended for the third option, we were recommended a cocktail call ‘Trippin’ a cocktail that apparently changes colour. However there was a bit of confusion as we thought we had ordered it and could see the staff were busy as the end of the two hours was approaching (around 10.30pm), we didn’t get the third cocktail, so decided to get a few last and pictures, says thanks to the staff and leave.
A really unique experience, the atmosphere of Breaking Bad is captured really well. The team obviously have a really great grasp of mixology and how to put together some truly creative and extraordinary, visually pleasing cocktails. We would recommend it to those looking for something a bit different when planning a night out.
Some recommendations to those planning a visit to ABQ London would be;
- We felt that a 70cl bottle of alcohol was too much and a 35cl would have been enough for the three cocktails (I am not sure if you can ask for the left overs or if once it is open you can’t take it off premises) Maybe you can ask for the left over, worth a try, but we didn’t.
- Use the map provided as its hidden away with no signage
- Some snacks or nibbles would have been nice, so fill up first
- Order quickly to get the three cocktails in two hours as they take time to prep
- It’s not a conventional cocktail making class more a ‘make your own’
We look forward to some further great concepts from Seb and the Lollipop team in future.
For more information & bookings visit http://www.abq.london/
To get your base spirit visit our spirits section.