The Cauldron, a magic-themed cocktail pop-up located in The Liquor Rooms in Temple Bar in Dublin, offers customers a fun and unique experience in cocktails classes. Donning capes and wands visitors are allowed to cast spells and create cocktails (or potions) in a mystical atmosphere with the aid of ‘Potion Masters.’
This truly immersive experience should definitely appeal to fantasy fanatics but it is most certainly not restricted that target market and will remain in Dublin until the end of November. I spoke to Matthew Cortland, co-founder and CEO of the endeavour, about cocktails in Dublin, the theme of the bar and the pros and cons of running a pop-up.
“Our mission is to bring fantasy to life with science, technology, and design, and to highlight the real things from fantasy that are part of our world,” said Matthew when discussing the overall aim of The Cauldron. ‘The most accessible way for us to do this is through an immersive cocktail-making class called The Cauldron, which is a ticketed experience where guests brew molecular cocktails with working magic wands.”
With 10 staff who talk customers through the process of casting spells, the experience is definitely one that comes from a place of passion. Customers use interactive wands and carefully follow Potion Masters’ directions whilst also having some casual banter about the more mystical elements of the beverages.
The project, which originated in Dublin, has been open to the public since the summer this year and the response so far has been very positive. “A lot of our business comes from word-of-mouth and customers sharing their experience with their friends,” said Matthew. “In Dublin that’s especially helpful because people seem to be much more connected with each other — it makes everything much easier from a marketing and awareness perspective!”
We regularly hear that the cocktail scene in Dublin seems to be in a period of rejuvenation, where
remarkable mixologists are creating homegrown Irish concepts. What is of particular note is that this talent is staying firmly in Dublin.
“In the past a good deal of Irish talent left to seek fortune in other places – The Dead Rabbit in New York and Homeboy in London immediately come to mind,” said Matthew. “But now I think we are seeing talent remain in Ireland, as well as having notable mixologists come from other countries to set up shop in Dublin for the cocktail renaissance.”
The concept itself is a unique one, surprisingly not touched on before in a marketable way in Ireland. This bleeds down through every aspect of the business: all the technological elements of the bar – from interactivity with the drinks and the sets – are all custom designed and built by a studio in London called The Magic of Things.
“I would say the whole thing is pretty unique, but as one of my TUD lecturers used to say, ‘everything is a remix’,” said Matthew, referring to the slogan outside of the bar making direct references to the narratives of a variety of fantasy stories.
The Cauldron also works with Wicklow Wolf in Bray to make a collaboration pale ale called The Wicked Wolf. So far The Cauldron does not have any spirit partnerships just yet but Matthew is hopeful that they will have some for Potion Making 2.0, next year, where he claims that The Cauldron will be redesigned into an even more interactive experience.
“One of the good parts about a pop-up is that you can leanly test the market before deciding to set up shop for the long-term,” he explained. “It’s a less risky way to test long-term viability.”
The Cauldron is not restricted to Dublin, and is currently working on a permanent flagship in central London as well as pop-ups in other cities. At present they operate The Cauldron in London, Dublin, Manhattan, and Edinburgh, as well as a Wizard Speakeasy in London called The Blind Phoenix.
Couple that with the operation of the London-based design studio where they invent and make everything you see in The Cauldron and it would appear to be a lot to manage, but according to Matthew “The days are long but rewarding”.
The Cauldron experience is so unique, immersive and fun that it is no surprise that it has plans to open permanently. The ambience of The Liquor Rooms, coupled with the set design, amazing staff and cocktails, truly transport customers to another world.
“It’s all about making our customers feel like kids again, and that is especially fun from a service perspective,” said Matthew, and as a big nerd who was treated to the experience, I can safely vouch that this was the case.