We’ve all done it. Sat down to watch one episode of the latest hit show on Netflix and before you know it it’s been 2 days, 24 episodes, you haven’t showered, you haven’t eaten anything that required you actually getting off the sofa (thank god that share pack of Doritos was still left on the coffee table) and you have no idea what has actually been going on in the real world. All you know is the fictional world of your TV show… and you have immersed yourself so deeply that actually, you’re not so sure that it is fiction anymore.
If you’ve never experienced this; if you’re one of those people that actually has self-control and hasn’t fallen down the Netflix rabbit hole, but you kind of wish you could, there is a way that won’t cost you 2 days of your life and a decline in your own personal hygiene. At least, for Breaking Bad fans there is.
From Lollipop, the team behind The Bletchley and London’s first naked restaurant comes ABQ, the ultimate Breaking Bad cocktail experience based out of a renovated RV found in Hackney. Complete with an interactive menu that sees guests working with W.W molecular techniques to “cook” their cocktails, all while dressed the part in yellow hazmat suits, this is an extraordinary drinking experience that fans of the series simply have to try!
Having adored my evening at The Bletchley press night back in March and knowing how well Lollipop does immersive drinking experiences, I had extremely high hopes for my visit to ABQ. Unfortunately, however, I shot myself in the foot ever so slightly by drinking ALL of the champagne in London the night before with my man-pal H, and was feeling just a smidge worse for wear. However, I had convinced myself that hair of the dog would be my saviour. I would power through. I would hydrate myself and get through this.
My friend & cooking partner Rosanna and I arrived at the RV just on time to be welcomed by our resident Heisenbergs. We were shown to our table within the cleverly fitted out stationary RV and given our yellow hazmat suits to wear. This was a warm evening and sliding these onto our slightly clammy bodies was like putting on a giant yellow body condom.
At least we looked great. Call it drug cooking deep sea fisherman chic.
Luckily we had the chance to cool down with our welcome drinks. Served in a super sciency beaker, you are encouraged to squeeze the syringe of blue liquid wedged within over the ice, and there you have your own beaker of blue crystal to sip at while you look at the cocktail menu and choose what you’re going to cook. It was refreshing and light, a good introduction into my hair of the dog treatment.
We studied the new Summer menu which launched only the week before. Each named after a pivotal moment, quote or feature of the series and each with a different exciting molecular addition that would make the cocktail what it was destined to be.
Rosanna chose to start with some Blow, a vodka based cocktail which had each ingredient served in test tubes which, when added in a specific order to the martini glass, created a beautiful purple ombre. Naturally, no Blow cocktail would be complete without a few lines on the side. Though straws were provided to enable the snorting of this white powder, we found the finger dab far more enjoyable… it was icing sugar, after all.
On the other hand, I chose the R+H, a whisky based cocktail that I soon discovered was the strongest and most alcoholic option on the entire menu. That’s one way to cure a hangover.
This drink was prepared by the Heisenbergs at the front of the truck first, deep pink and thick with the sting of strong whisky. On the side came a little baggy of dark fruit shrub, ginger and hibiscus to be infused in hot water with a tea strainer, and then bubbled up with a clever vibrating thing to make a foam to be spooned on top of the cocktail.
The effect was clever though the bubbles didn’t add much flavour, mostly because the rest of the drink was so strong. I took my time drinking this, though it was tasty, it wasn’t forgiving on my hangover.
I went with something a little different for my second drink, the Granite State made with gin, basil, avocado, celery and apple martini. The cooking came with the infusion of chilli and ginger. I had to pour my cocktail into a cream whipper (usually used by chefs to create a cream, or by festival goers to take laughing gas) and shake it up with a slice of chili and a wedge of ginger.
Before then squirting it back out into my glass ready for sipping.
Rosanna also had to use the cream whipper to infuse her cocktail, I Fucked Ted, with dark chocolate. The cocktail itself was made with Rye Whisky, Sweet Vermouth and Tea Noir Manhatten, and after some shaking, she squirted it all out into her glass. Unfortunately she didn’t find the whisky strong enough, rather it was quite a light drink and it took a lot of concentration to detect the dark chocolate flavour.
The couple on our table also had some interesting drinks, including a take on an Espresso Martini called Gale made with tequila and topped with a pink peppercorn and cardamom foam made in the same way as my first drink’s bubbly topping, as well as an extremely Instagram-worthy CRT Fix which used liquid nitrogen to infuse thyme and rosemary into the cocktail made with gin, elderflower, lime, cucumber and mint – an extremely summer appropriate drink.
An evening at ABQ will set you back £30 which gets you 2 hours in the RV and includes cooking of 2 cocktails and your welcome drink. You can purchase more cocktails if you are so inclined, with each molecular cocktail costing £9 each, and classic cocktails £8.50. I really enjoyed the evening and regret being so hungover as I would have been keen to stay and try another drink or two, however my body just couldn’t take more alcohol or the heat of the hazmat suits!
I’d say with a big group of Breaking Bad fanatics you could have a lot of fun taking over the whole RV (you can have up to 32 in there!), or at least a large table, though if I had to choose between this or Lollipop’s other immersive drinking experience, I’d probably choose The Bletchley simply because the drinks are more personalised to individual tastes (and more in line with my tastes, in particular!) but the good thing is, you don’t actually have to choose between the two, and you shouldn’t – try both and work it out for yourself!