If you’re into kooky, themed pop ups, “cooking” weird and wonderful cocktails, the Breaking Bad series, and you didn’t make it to the ABQ London pop-up bar inside an RV in 2015… You’ve still got a chance to check it out! After a short break and a remodel/relocation, ABQ London is back again as of today (4th Feb 2016) and I’m going to tell you why you should get down there ASAP (I mean, I loved it so much I went 3 times) “because I say so”!
Most London “novelty” pop ups seem to have an expiry date – they’re around for a season and then forgotten about, but not this one! You might have seen information about this floating around social media early last year, with features in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post & Lad Bible (to name a few) – you could sign up to be alerted about when tickets were on sale and it was all very hush hush. They didn’t release any further details of time, dates, or location until very close to the time the tickets were on sale – very cleverly playing up to the idea that the DEA would find them & shut the bar down.
Fast forward a couple of months and all was revealed with tickets being released in waves and selling out in minutes – it was no surprise really, with an idea as brilliant as this, nearly everyone who enjoyed the Breaking Bad series wanted to check it out.
Back in July, waaay before I started blogging, Lissa (Girl At The Rock Show) and I went to the Breaking Bad ‘ABQ’ pop-up bar and it was pretty fun (Lissa wrote a blog about it too, read it HERE). For £31.60 (inc. booking fee) you could have a 2 hour session in the RV making Breaking Bad inspired cocktails.
Sadly I was late and missed the intro (due to it being in quite an awkward to get to location at the rear of the Cre8 Lifestyle Centre at the old public baths), but Lissa caught me up on what was going on, and I got stuck in blending some kind of edible dry ice with a selection of liquids.
There were 20 or so of us in this pretty cool damn cool RV casually parked up on some fake grass in Hackney Wick. We were put into 4 “teams”, cooking up one of two set cocktails. Each team cooked one from scratch, whilst the other did a different one which we tried after. The cooking steps were stuck to the walls of the RV with tape in a chaotic fashion.
The set cocktails to be made were:
- ‘Saul’s C2H60’ (which my team made) – which was a green rum infused sorbert. This was made mixing ingredients (blue curacao, rose hips & strained pepper corns) in a Nitros Oxide canister in a process they called ‘Nitro Hectar’, and some ‘ABQ Mix’ with dry ice in a bowl using an electric whip. When served it was topped with Albuquerque Sherbet (popping candy & sherbet)
- ‘Blue Flynn’ (made by another team) – which was a rum based strawberry infused cocktail, complete with with strawberry sherbet lines on the side).
Understandably there was also going to be very heavy drug references throughout the evening, due to the nature of the televison series. However, I didn’t expect to be presented with a cocktail in a glass laboratory flask, with lines of sherbet on the side! If after all the cocktail ‘cooking’ you were interested in drinking more, you could purchase further drinks for £8.50.
The staff were absolutely lovely, but perhaps a little timid for a “experience” pop-up such as this. The evening seemed to run smoothly but at quite a slow place – once we completed our cocktail there was quite a bit of waiting around whilst the staff prepped our cocktails to drink. This didn’t detract from the novelty of the evening at all though, or the excitement from Lissa & I when they let us try on the yellow jumpsuits and prance around pretending to be Walter White & Jesse Pinkman.
An added touch that made for some good photo ops, was the range of official merchandise for sale, including the famous pink teddy & a hard back edition of ‘Breaking Bad: The Official Book’.
I had heard rumours from friends who went after my first time, that the setup of the evening had changed – and they weren’t wrong! The second time around it ran a lot smoother with more cocktails to be made! I found the picture below on the site in November – which shows the evolution of ABQ London, so I was over the moon when a friend of mine had a spare ticket and invited me along for a second time.
ABQ London July to November changes. (Picture credit: http://abq.london/)
When visiting in November, It was still in the same place, with the same setup inside but the evening was quite different. It was much snappier – we measured and made two cocktails this time – “no more half-measures, Walter!”. The second cocktail was a competition to see whose tasted the best. As it turned outthe team I was on won the taste test and we were treated to shots of “Gus Fring’s blood” (which I think was actually Jägermeister) – delicious!
“Say my name!”
The leader of the sessions this time was an American fella, who went by the name T-Dogg (or possibly B-Dogg… I dunno, something with a Dogg at the end) and he was absolutely brilliant. A couple of “rude” words (à la Jesse Pinkman) were thrown around for good measure and it really made such a difference to the atmosphere that he was in full character. Everyone was buzzing and really excited about getting stuck in to the theme.
Breaking Bad bar, take 2! I've had sooo much fun tonight with @hannahnewey! @abqlondon have really fine tuned the whole process since I last came, and the 2 hour cocktail "cooking" session this evening was awesome 👌 highly recommend, 10/10! (In other news, I think the dude in the yellow jumpsuit was really happy to see us…)
Instead of being given pre-measured ingredients, we did it all from scratch, meticulously following the steps on the “recipe” sheet.
When arriving for the third time, for a friends Birthday last week, despite being in a brand new (easier to get to) location, everything looked the same from the outside. So when I clambered up the steps into the RV to see it had essentially been hollowed out, with extra seating added and more space to move around in, I was weirdly excited?
The RV feels much more spacious and although they still have the same big barrel seats (which I found quite uncomfortable), there were also comfier options – metal stalls, and a long bench along the wall, covered in material that was a colour timeline of Walter White’s shirts (read more about the colour theories here)!
The new location meant a change of set up, entry fee has been lowered to £25, due to the BYOB (bring your own bottle/booze) nature of the evening (I have a funny feeling the BYOB feature might be something to do with licensing?) – meaning it was similar to a BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) evening which you might have been to/heard of before. On arrival you’re told to get into pairs – and this is your buddy that you will be cooking with!
There was a choice of 5 cocktails from a set menu, dependent on what alcohol you brought with you. My partner and I opted for the ‘505’ first, a delicious mix of vodka/gin (we used vodka as it’s what we had available) and sweet syrups, served smoking & bubbling (thanks to dry ice), in a martini class.
The process of measuring and mixing was mostly done by us, with the alcohol measurements prepared by the staff. Once finished our ‘505′ was pretty delicious. Not only did it taste good, it looked awesome too! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing dry ice cause my cocktail to smoke & bubble, it just looks so freakin’ cool & is hypnotic to watch! With that in mind, I’ve included a little video to entrance you.
I didn’t actually make this one, and wasn’t keen to (due to ‘Fly‘ being my least favourite episode of the entire series), but Lissa & Georgia did so I had the chance to taste it! I have no idea how the little “bubbles” of cola are made, and I’m not really sure how to explain this one either, as it was a very weird sensation – similar to Bubble Tea (which I’m not a massive fan of) but with added alcohol, and some of the ingredients being mixed up in a using a Nitros Oxide Canister. I think I’m going to quote Lissa’s blog here, it’s “a drink which reminded me of frog spawn”. Enough said.
Okay, so I was *really* excited about trying this one! It’s London’s first flavour changing cocktail and it really does change flavour, no wonder they named it ‘Tripping‘! So you mix all the ingredients up, and serve the drink, fine. Taste it… Tastes alright, perhaps a little bit bitter? After that you put the little “Pink-e tablet” in your mouth (crushed or whole – doesn’t matter which) make sure you finish it, and try it again… The flavour totally changes! There’s also a little tip on the instructions to suck on a piece of lemon afterwards and honestly, the lemon tasted incredible – almost sweet and creamt. It was mouth watering and the best tasting lemon I’ve ever had – I finished it as if it was a piece of juicy orange.
With only two members of staff, and the work station they had being quite small, it meant that although most of us would have had time to make 3 cocktails, we only had the chance to make two, which was a bit of a shame and meant there was some down time. However being a big group out for a friends birthday, we had time to socialise in between (rather than be cooking non stop) and were also able to try each others cocktails – which didn’t work out too badly!
The attention to detail is mind-blowing really. Whether you’re a die hard Breaking Bad nerd, or have only watched a couple of episodes here and there, this is a really fun, unique night out and you’ll appreciate all the little touches. Despite it being a week before the “official” relaunch, everything was organised pretty well and I’m sure the little kinks here (such as waiting time in between cocktails) have since been ironed out.
Even though you are required to take your own alcohol, the price to attend this immersive cooking experience is £25 (with extra cocktails using your own alcohol after the session finishes being £8), which I do think this is a little steep (especially compared to the original price of £31.60). That being said, for a novelty pop-up bar and in the scheme of London event prices, it’s understandable that’s the entry fee.
Regardless of it being my third time I had such fun and I highly recommend going if you get the chance!
Where is ABQ London? ABQ, Cleve Workshops, Boundary Street, London, E2 (nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street/Old Street)
What are the opening times? Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 6pm-midnight!
How much is it? £25 + a sealed closed bottle of Vodka, Gin, Rum or Whisky. One 35cl bottle per person, or one 70cl bottle for two people. You won’t finish it and you can take it home with you at the end.
Do I have to book? No, you can drop in as they have a limited number of walk-in spaces available, but I would suggest booking in advance to avoid disappointment. “Say you want this” – click here to book (availability is at the bottom of the page).
TOP TIP: if you’re going with a friend, try to take a mixture of alcohol with one person supplying: vodka or gin, and the other: whiskey or rum. This is so you have a wider choice of cocktails to choose from. We only had vodka, so it was a little more limiting with the options.
“I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS”
And that concludes my super mega, packed full of pictures and information blog post all about ABQ London – thanks for making it to the end!
Whether you’ve been before or would like to go soon – I wanna know what you think in the comments!
“Maybe your best course is to tread lightly…”
All pictures my own unless stated otherwise.