Hidden in plain sight beneath Edinburgh’s Frederick Street, The Cauldron is a wizard-inspired cocktail bar, now offering ‘Potion Making 2.0’, an immersive cocktail (or mocktail) class.
Regular readers might recall the Halloween tricks and treats enjoyed there, by my twelve-year-old and I, so when the invitation came for a more grown-up evening out, I was very curious. I met my friend, Sandra, and we donned our witches robes and the ‘working’ magic wands, imbibed with chemistry and technology.
Combining fantasy and magical lore with science and design, the potions experience includes three specially created drinks over a one hour forty-five minute session. For our first drink, we were asked to summon and pour our choice of craft beer house-made cocktails and mocktails from the mouths of mounted magical creatures: a unicorn, a basilisk and…and…the third is on the tip of my tongue; clearly I was intent on sampling the potions rather than remembering their names!
The highlight for us was definitely the beer, a refreshing and unique taste. Called ‘Witches Well Sour’, it’s brewed by Pilot Brewery, with mandarin juice & thyme (traditionally used in healing, purification and protection), and is named for the Edinburgh based monument commemorating wrongly accused victims of witch trials from the 15th to 18th century.
Potion-makers then choose their own cocktails to brew. From Fable of Falernum (Earl Grey tea-based cocktail in a bubbling cauldron), Blood Boiling Curse (sweet and sour raspberry and blackberry bubbling potion) and Time Transfixed (rich, warm and made in an hourglass siphon, to Transfiguration Toniq, a lavender-gin martini that changes colour before your eyes. (Alcohol-free, gluten and vegan options are available).
We went for the Blood Boiling Curse – and immediately showed ourselves useless at following written instructions – and after playing happily with vials and jars and coloured liquids and mysterious substances…we had a very satisfactory pink drink that bubbled up and over-flowed like lava from a volcano. I admit to a bit of cauldron envy; we didn’t need one but the guests on the next table did, and brewing in that would definitely be my second choice.
The theatrics are good. The drinks are good. The whole evening was one of fun, made by the perfectly cavern-like location. We were also treated to the effusive, often hilarious, charms of Mystique Glamour (pronounced Gla-more, if you please) a queen amongst drag queens, and the cunning skill of JD Kelley, astrologer and tarot reader, who gave Sandra a very interesting reading…
Alongside Potions 2.0, The Cauldron has a new seasonal cocktail programme, “Wizards Around the World”, and a weekly entertainment programme of drag bingo, performances, and student nights, as well as a magical gift shop.
Tickets start at £20.99 per person and should be booked in advance.
For bookings and more information, visit: www.thecauldron.io/edinburgh
Photographs courtesy of Sandra Olliveira