Photo by Heather Sperling
With cocktails, it's usually "imbibe," not "inhale." But last weekend, in a sparse London basement, 30 strangers and I donned protective suits and sidled up to the humidifier. Tucked into a corner, this machine was our industrial-strength bartender for the evening, pumping gin and tonic mist into the room.
A small, two-level space in Soho had been borrowed for the occasion. A neon blue sign said "GIN," and after sheathing ourselves in thin, hooded jumpsuits, we went to a a vapor-free room with a tiny bar serving standard gin and tonics. The breathable G&Ts were downstairs; down a steep stairwell, where the door to the cocktail-inhaling room was barely visible for the boozy haze. Inside were a giant papier-mâché straw, an oversized, illuminated paper lime, and a pack of hooded "drinkers," dancing and breathing.
The concoction was top-shelf--Hendrick's gin and Fever Tree tonic--and when shot through a humidifier the gin's cucumber and juniper aromas came through to full effect. It was a pleasant scent, and I could imagine the boozy facial being a hit at a girl's spa weekend. But in a small subterranean room, lit by a single, bare bulb and filled with strangers in baggy white jumpsuits, it made for a decidedly strange, Willy Wonka Saturday night bar scene.