“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Anyone who knows me knows I am a a huge Harry Potter nerd (much like most the world). I have read all the books multiple times and see the movies even more times. I have been to the Wizarding World in Florida twice, seen Cursed Child on Broadway, and been to a number of Potter-based exhibits in and around NYC. I’m even making a special trip across the pond in April to visit the studio tour in London!
That being said, I jumped on the chance to attend The Cauldron when it opened back in the fall. This potions making class was a big hit in London, and I believe had to be booked months in advance. In fact, I had even looked into it for my trip to London but lucked out that it came to New York first! I gathered my two best fellow Harry Potter nerd friends, and we were off!
As we were early for our scheduled class time, we first made our way to the Sea Glass Carousel for a quick ride. Though I learned that the carousel was not, in fact, made of sea glass (which in retrospect I realize I should’ve known as it would be really difficult to make carousel sized fish out of sea glass), however that did not make it any less charming. Unlike other carousels you may have seen, this one is meant to mimic underwater and the fish glide gracefully as you sit inside the circles. It was late afternoon when we arrived, so it was not nearly dark yet but I imagine the carousel is even more fun all lit up at night.
Still early (class starts promptly, and not a minute earlier than your schedule time!), so we headed a few doors down to Vintry Wine and Whiskey for cocktails. They have a extremely extensive menu, and I’d definitely like to return at some point. However, we only had time for quick stay, because it was finally time for potions class!
The one hour and forty-five minute experience is held in a bar in downtown Manhattan. It takes up the entire upper floor of Bavaria Bierhaus. When you arrive, you are given robes and a wand and led to your table by one of their wizards. The experience is, for the most part, self-led though the wizard guides are on hand if you need help.
The experience leads from one potion to another, increasing in difficulty as you go along. You use a variety of different techniques to make the potions, and use the magic wand in each one. They made full use of various ingredients that seem magical when you mix them with other ingredients. One cocktail started out blue but then turned purple when exposed to light (this reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland event we attended a few months earlier which, now that I am posting this, am realizing I never posted about so I’ll schedule a post about that for the future).
Another made smart use of dry ice to look like it was smoking out of a cauldron. The smoke would billow and rise up and around the cauldron as it was stirred, making it really feel like you are sitting in Severus Snape’s potions class at Hogwarts (or perhaps Slughorn’s, if you prefer his teaching methods!). This was the one we thoroughly messed up as we read a direction incorrectly… it still worked out in the end though!
At the end, you have the option of getting a variety of Harry Potter-based drinks from the menu. These you don’t make yourself, but all have an element of magic to them as well. The one we chose was lit with a match and briefly featured a flame (i.e. like a dragon).
If you’re a Harry Potter fan and have ever wanted to experience what it might be like to visit The Hog’s Head or The Leaky Cauldron, I definitely recommend treating yourself to this experience!