I was flying like a bird. Dense forest stretched in front of me as far as my eye could see, interrupted by gentle rolling hills and green pastures. An impression of wilderness and pureness, refreshing and cool. Pictures of water emerged, I was following a broad river, underneath bridges and into the mist. Fields of cereal, golden in the sun, moved by the gentle motion of the breeze.
Suddenly I found myself in a dark cellar. Around me wooden barrels, from a whiskey production. My eyes followed skilled hands as they went through the different distillery steps. Smoke reached my nostrils, added a new dimension to the experience. Then the credits rolled.
I took off the virtual reality headset. A cocktail was waiting in front of me, fragrant and rich in colour.
Virtual Reality cocktails are the latest craze in London, and I was lucky to be invited to try them out at one of the top five hotel bars in the world (according to Sunday Telegraph), The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych, London.
The Origin: Smokey, Fruity, Rich
Our cocktail afternoon at The Lobby Bar started with a bang. A virtual trip to the source of Dalmore whiskey, which in its 12 year old version was the main player in The Origin, the flagship cocktail at One Aldwych for the season.
While we were waiting for the bartender to do his magic, the staff equipped us with virtual reality headsets and headphones for a truly immersive experience. Behind the scenes, the distinguished Scottish whiskey was mixed with fruity flavours from cherry and grapefruit and some hints of chocolate, then topped with smoke. Served at just the right moment, the fragrant cherry wood smoke reached our noses, adding an olfactory dimension to our personal cinematic experience.
Served in a big glass with a playful swirl of orange peel and a giant ice sphere that seemed to have slow-melting qualities we were now invited to taste this fine cocktail for ourselves. In the crescent shaped bottle, the smoke still lingered in the bottle, reminding us of the misty hills that we had just seen in the video clip.
We sipped The Origin and snacked on the croquettes which were recommended by the cocktail menu as a perfect combination for the cocktail. A true treat with the rich flavours of truffle, heightened by the saltiness of the cheese and the sweetness of almonds. Creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Heavenly.
The Circle of Life: Exotic, Surprising, Complex
So many new impressions within just a matter of minutes – the virtual reality headset, the smokey cocktail, the delicious food – I hardly had had time to take in my surroundings. The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych deserves a closer inspection though. There was artwork everywhere, a giant boatman with oars dominating the picture. The Head of Dionysus in another corner, an iconic piece of art that we also discovered as a bespoke cocktail glass on the menu. The room was light and airy with high ceilings from which giant floral compositions were hanging, some of the flowers even upside down.
A cheerful, elegant and friendly space with lots of Edwardian flair and Parisian chic. From our seats near the big arched windows (the building had been build a hundred years ago by a newspaper, and natural light had probably been a priority) we casted stolen glances to the other tables. Other patrons around us enjoyed their afternoon with their friends or families. One Aldwych was also famous for the playful afternoon tea, which was inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Speaking of inspiration: As my eyes wandered to the other side of the room I caught sight of the promotional sign of The Lion King outside. Aptly, our next cocktail arrived, The Circle of Life.
Served in a gorgeous wheel bottle that showcased the different fruits used for the cocktail, this drink surprised me the most. Tropical fruit had been infused in alcohol for around 72 hours – the fruitiness of pawpaw and pineapple slowly working their way into the boldness of the Flor the Caña 7 year old rum. There was a distinct fragrance of banana as I lifted the glass for a sip – yet, on my tongue it was surprisingly not creamy nor overly sweet. A complex mix of fruitless and sunny rum flavours, which was heightened by the sparkles of fresh ginger ale.
Christmas Club: Elegant, Simple, Light
Our last cocktail for the day was inspired by the Home Alone franchise. Christmas Club was – just like Kevin – a bit of an underdog cocktail in the sense that it actually gave you a much richer experience than you would have expected.
A classical Christmas theme with sparkles and fruit and elegance. Christmas Club was mixed with a champagne base (Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut) and came with a lovely palette of citrus flavours from orange liqueur, lemon juice and raspberry syrup. Simple and unpretentious.
Raspberry could also be found around the outside of the glass, in a playful swirl there were tiny morsels of dried raspberry, skilfully attached to the glass surface. It was served with a complimentary mince pie to round off the Christmas wonderland experience.
Post-Show Cocktails at One Aldwych
One Alwych is one of London’s premier 5-star hotels. Surrounded by theatre and musical productions, there is always a good excuse to visit The Lobby Bar – for a pre-show drink to celebrate the evening, or after the show to share your experiences with friends.
The cocktails change seasonally but they all have in common that they echo their surroundings. Inspiration comes from the shows and seasons, making them the perfect accompaniment to an unforgettable night out.