Like gin? Going to Edinburgh Fringe this year? Looking for something a little different to do in-between shows? Curious enough to magnifiy your mind, fall into a state of hypnagogia, experience your gin in a completely new way? Good, then you need to get your fine self down to the most unusual Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion (#HESS) on 91 George Street, Edinburgh, pronto.
Cucumber HQ promised “a synesthetic playground of wondrous experiments and entertainments lubricated with most unusual libations throughout – a fully immersive experience that will let you discover and experience the uniqueness of Hendrick’s Gin through the mediums of sound and taste. You will leave a smidgeon more educated, a great deal more titillated and a whole imperial tonne more befuddled by the absurd abilities of your very own senses.” – and they weren’t wrong. What an experience!
Part cocktail tasting, part gin lesson, part experiment, part theatre, the HESS is not to be missed. The delightful Cacophony bar is filled with oddities as only you’d expect from Hendrick’s – everything from rose and cucumber listening devices to Pavlov’s dog to the elaborate ‘Phantasmagorical Cognitive Drinking Topper Hat’ that lulls you into a state of hypnagogia as you sip your way through a spectacular cocktail menu, mixed expertly by a suitably dapper team. The bar is free to all and is well worth a visit.
But for the truly curious, you must take part in the immersive experience – for just twenty-four Great British Pounds you experience 5 Hendrick’s drinks and learn an awful lot about yourself, the way your mind works in relation to taste and leave with a delightfully satiated palette. Hendrick’s don’t do things by halves – they worked with world-leading sound artist Mark IJzerman from the University of Utrecht to deconstruct the cocktail tasting experience and present it in a new way. Here’s an overview of our night on the immersive experience:
The Quietest Bar on Earth
Here, adorned in white gowns, we entered a white room and enjoyed a dry martini in complete silence. Issued with noise cancelling headphones, our host used boards with words on to talk us through a conscious mediation that was designed to quite the mind and the palette. A most unusual experience and completely unexpected – I can’t remember the last time I sat in complete silence for 10 minutes. Hearing your own heart beat in your ears and your own breathing whilst surrounded by other people was awfully strange, but actually helped you focus on the flavour if the martini, which was delightful. Hendrick’s is a superb gin in a martini – really soft and floral.
The Audio-gastrotorium Laboratory
Next, in a science lab classroom, we explored and learned about how our sensory stimuli are all interconnected. Presented with 3 vials of different coloured liquid, we were invited to put some headphones on and, using a flavour wheel, describe the three different gins. A most unexpected outcome – I won’t give the game away, but this was probably the most interesting room and a fascinating experience.
The Quantumphysical Soundscape of Hendrick’s Gin
In a deep red room, we were invited to play with a most curious contraption designed to “uncover the secret quantumphysical voice of cocktails as we amplify the effect one has on the vibration of concoction’s sub-atoms” – we basically “played” our cocktails as you would instruments – the best way I can describe this was like playing a theremin. An absolutely fascinating experience and fun way to enjoy a cocktail!
Sonic Cucumber Bath
The final room was a zen like oasis – in the midst of the crazy festival, this was truly lovely. Here, we enjoyed a sonic sound bath led by a gongologist – basically playing tibetan singing bowls and a gong while you lie back and fall into a state of deep relaxation. We finished off the experience with a an alarmingly green coloured liquid called ‘cucozade’ – which in fact tasted delicious.
All in all an amazing experience and one not to be missed! More info and tickets:
- Location: 91 George Street from 7th – 30th August 2015.
- The full Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion experience runs every hour from 6pm – 11pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. Each experience lasts approximately two hours and will be undertaken in groups of 20.
- Tickets for the full experience cost £24 (including drinks) and can be purchased from https://www.edfringe.com.