You’ve got to be a little crazy to spend two hours in a barely air-conditioned RV during the height of summer, but such is the fervor for “cooking” cocktails in a makeshift meth lab.
That’s the premise of ABQ NYC, the British "immersive molecular bar" that’s cruised across the pond to Bushwick for July and August. Though they can’t mention the hit TV show that inspired the bar for copyright reasons, fans quickly sold out its entire stint.
For their $45, legal meth heads are welcomed into the RV (parked in the backyard of Arrogant Swine, in case you need some Carolina barbecue after your experience) by a team of strung-out chemists and billows of smoke. You’re greeted with a high five in one hand and a welcome cocktail in the other, a sort of mojito with a Blue Curacao kick in a syringe.
Each two-hour session has 30 participants grouped around lab tables that are just a bit too small for comfort, plus a pair of dishwashing gloves and a yellow poncho (again, summer — a certain amount of dedication is necessary here). It just makes the experience more authentic, right?
Initially, everyone dutifully dons their lab gear, though about halfway through the evening you’ll realize it’s like sous vide-ing yourself and abandon it, too. If it weren’t for the “Kiss the Cook” graffiti and assistants clad in cocktail waitress outfits, it could be a freshman science class. On the tables are beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, a glass distiller and various jars of powders and liquids.
Between making new friends, working together and the mild buzz of that first cocktail, assembling each cocktail does end up taking the better part of an hour. The instructions are often less than clear and each cocktail is reasonably complex, with ingredients like falernum, pink peppercorns and rose hip, with additional flair like strawberry infusions via some dry ice magic.
After you’ve finished, the cocktail mixture is whisked away and returned in four portions — the first one even comes with lines of high-octane Fun Dip and a short straw (don’t snort it), while the second looks like a drinkable chunk of meth rock. In case you needed reminding, science is cool.
Interestingly, we also initially thought the liquid ingredients were pre-measured and ended up using about 600mL of rum when the recipe called for 400mL. However, each recipe contains enough of bartenders’ best friends — sugar and citrus — to make up for any mistakes on our part.
The soundtrack of the evening (avoid sitting in the back of the RV as the speakers will deafen you) would be recognizable to fans of the show we can’t mention, ranging from the oldies classic “Windy” to the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.”
Much like high school chemistry class, you won’t learn much, but it was a lot more fun than just sitting in a bar. Even though we had three cocktails in two hours, we felt only mildly buzzed — but getting wasted isn’t the point anyway.