Last year, the introduction of Breaking Bad changed my life.
Well okay, I might be being a little bit OTT there. However, this show quite literally obliterated all other television in terms of quality, drama and artistry. I was solidly hooked. Naturally, after the roller-coaster ride of blue meth was over, I conducted a search to see if there was anything else out there that would scratch my post Breaking Bad itch. In doing so, I came across the elusive cocktail-making experience, ABQ London.
You can't see it because my arm is covering it, but my t-shirt says 'Walker White' on it, with the Night King from GOT cooking up meth. Nice crossover indeed
Founded by Sebastian Lyall, ABQ is another one of the city's incredible immersive drinking experiences. Inspired by the cult HBO show, participants get ready to ‘cook’ in an RV, dressed in the iconic yellow hazmat suits with beakers and other scientific props. Having seen the photos splashed all over the gram, I decided to go along and see what all the fuss was about.
The venue itself has the same grungy vibe of its parent’s show, hidden behind an archway in Hackney, East London. This site has been around for about eight months at this point, but they also have a sister site in Paris, and have toured the experience in New York. Originally, ABQ was more of a standard cocktail bar, but the owner of the site made the suggestion of incorporating ‘cooking’, and thus this became a full immersive cocktail experience.
The venue also moonlights as a traditional bar, along with a vegan pizzeria attached to the back (because as we all know, lots of cooking can give you the munchies). Like the drinks, each of the pizzas have a nod to the franchise in their names. The site is constantly evolving, with plans for an expansion coming soon. Watch this space.
As soon as I arrived, I went zipping around the building snapping photos of the incredible decor. I have to say, it really was super cool to see how they’d kitted out the bar and surrounding areas. Even if you don’t get to try the full experience, just chilling in here is something you NEED to do. The artwork looks like it has been pulled straight from the show, and there’s several Easter eggs lurking around the place that any fan will notice - there were even references in the toilets!
Dominating the bar is a full-sized replica of the iconic RV that Walt and Jesse cook in for the first few seasons (the good old days, I’m sure we’d all agree). I wasn’t expecting the size of this thing - as it fit in probably around twenty different workstations inside, plus a fully stocked bar to boot. This was the big wow factor, for sure.
Once we were invited in, we were given our own personal workstation, along with a hazmat suit, goggles and a gas mask to keep out any toxic fumes (jokes obvs, there aren’t any at all, it’s completely safe). Straight away, we were immersed in the world of Heisenberg, ready to cook up all of the good stuff.
In the experience, you’re gifted with three cocktails. One is brought straight to you to get you in the mood, and the rest are chosen from the BB-themed menu that you’re given. Each cocktail is a nice subtle nod to the series. I myself went for a CRT Fix, my boyfriend Joe went for a Choco Sky and we both shared the Wendy Martini.
The key to this experience is that they want you to play a huge part in the creation process, so you’re given lots of apparatus to play with. It was like being back in High School Biology again - sans bunsen burners of course. We created cocktails that changed colour, bubbled and steamed away, whilst simultaneously being pretty damn delicious.
Dat dry ice doh
The freedom at ABQ is extremely refreshing. Whilst it’s great to see a masterclass, part of the learning is muddling your way through. The tutors give you direction, but ultimately the experience comes down to your talent, and that’s what makes this experience a very special one indeed.
If Breaking Bad is not really your bag, the founding company - Lollipop - also own an experience called The Bletchley based in Chelsea. With an infamous WW2 theme, participants are invited through a secret entrance to crack codes on enigma machines, which will make up the ingredients of each drink. I know for sure that it's peaked my interest!
Whatever your preferred setting, I cannot recommend a night like this enough. It’s creative, it’s unique and above all; it has some damn good liquor. If you’re looking for something alternative to do in the big city, ABQ London should be the next thing on your bucket list.
See more pictures and news over on ABQ London's Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page!