Last week I did a review of The Cauldron, an immersive Harry Potter potions experience, and it made me realize that I never posted about my Mad Hatter’s G&T experience back in June. This was along the same lines as the Cauldron experience, in that you mixed and made your own cocktails, but this time around it was all based on Alice in Wonderland, which beats out even Harry Potter for one of my favorite stories of all time. Bear with me on this one as it was back in June, and some of the details may be fuzzy in my memory.
I discovered the event via Facebook, and if I’m remembering correctly it was through someone else’s comment on an article about it. Being the Alice in Wonderland fan (and lookalike) that I am, I immediately read all about it, and loved the concept: tea time on a double-decker bus, with a twist! The tea is gin, and it’s all Wonderland themed. At the time, it wasn’t open yet, so I signed up for the waiting list and through this managed to get a pretty good discount to the event. I got my partner-in-crime Sarah on board (we like to go on friend dates together and I always quote Leslie Knope when we do, saying “tragically we are both heterosexual”).
This particular experience was a pop-up, placed in the outdoor dining area of the Arrogant Swine BBQ restaurant. As you wait on line to enter the bus, the March Hare and the Dormouse arrive, greet the guests and hand you your first cocktail which is delightfully served in a delicate teacup (all so, so me). The actors really inhabit the characters, particularly when they interact with the guests. My biggest claim to fame was that I was asked by the Dormouse if my name was Alice.
Once we led inside, we made our way to the top of the double decker bus and took our seats at the first station. The Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse all led their own drink making stations, connected together by a storyline involving their clock not working properly (and, subsequently, time… as I mentioned earlier, some of the details are a bit fuzzy). Our first station was with the March Hare, where we made a drink using a shrub. With the Dormouse, we tried a candy which changed the flavor of the drink and with the Mad Hatter we made a drink that changed color depending on how much ice was put into it (the secret ingredient was butterfly pea syrup, which I didn’t believe was a thing but I’ve looked it up and it is!).
As with the first drink, everything was served in a delicate little cup. And in true Alice in Wonderland fashion, the cups were all mismatched so you always got a different one. For Alice fans, there was plenty of paraphernalia around the room to remind you of the original story. The actors continued to embody their respective characters, moving the story along and also going with the flow of the guests and the conversations people were having. All in all, the experience was a ton of fun (should I ever get married, it would be the perfect bachelorette party).
It worked out in our favor that the pop up was located at a restaurant, as it had small snacks but not a huge meal. So we were able to go right into the Arrogant Swine and grab some barbecue once we were done. I have to be completely honest when I say I wasn’t impressed with the food. Despite being a native New Yorker, I have eaten my fair share of barbecue and this did not compare to other places I have been. However, they DID have a mac and cheese waffle, which is exactly what it sounds like and – of course! – had to be ordered.
After dinner, I wanted ice cream so we made our way to -321 Ice Cream Shop to get some ice cream made right in front of your eyes through the magic of liquid nitrogen. The campfire mix in a Nitro Cup (basically dry ice in the bottom which steamed through the rim of the cup) was the perfect end to a really fun night.
I believe the experience’s run has now ended, but if you want to check out their website to see if it’ll pop up again, click here.