When I first heard rumours of a new Harry Potter cocktail experience coming to London, I jumped straight onto the internet to find out what, where, who, when. Whilst there are many Harry Potter locations and sights in London and the UK, there are few that are truly immersive. Even the Warner Bros Studio Tour is more of a look at the world of Harry Potter, rather than an invitation into it, which is why I was so excited to hear about The Cauldron. I was even more delighted when co-founder Matthew Cortland agreed to let me come in and review the experience.
Strictly speaking, The Cauldron does not host a Harry Potter cocktail experience, it’s simply a magical one, but it’s clear that they have drawn a lot of inspiration from the wizarding world of Harry Potter from the setting, props and recipes. As soon as you enter their underground potions classroom, you are handed a set of robes and a wand. You’ll then be led over to your work station where your cauldron awaits! There are two people per cauldron so there’s plenty of space for your potion making with a maximum of four people per table. There are a couple of two people tables dotted around the edges of the room and being one of the first people down the stairs, I was lucky enough to snag one of these.
It’s clear that this place has been carefully curated by a group of people that really know their stuff when it comes to magical kingdoms and potions making. It truly feels like you’ve stepped into another realm when you walk down these stairs and see the beautiful interiors in front of you. There are rows of wooden tables, laden with Cauldrons and other pieces of magical apparatus and there are various roots hanging from the ceilings. The bookcases around the room are stuffed with vials of God knows what and the pictures on the wall remind me of something you’d find at The Burrow. It’s a truly immersive experience with music that sounds like it could’ve come from the Medieval Age playing throughout the classroom so you really feel like you’ve left 21st Century London for pastures greener.
The first part of the experience involves crowding round the Four Cauldrons to get your first complimentary cocktail. However, if cocktails aren’t your thing, then you’ll need to ask the magical tree, Tree Beer, to serve up a special brew for you. I opted for a roseberry and vodka concoction, which was super tasty and surprisingly strong! I am used to most pubs and bars in London serving up weak alcohol but, as was confirmed for me even later, that isn’t the case with The Cauldron.
Once everyone had settled down with their first drink, the potions class began. The staff (also robed) handed out all the ingredients we’d need to make our first cocktail: Transformation Tonic. The list of ingredients wasn’t what I was used to however. I didn’t see any mention of the usual components of gin, tonic water, lime etc. Instead there was a list akin to that you’d find in Snape’s potions class at Hogwarts. As such, I honestly had no idea what was truly going into my cocktail, so you’ll have to trust that the boys behind The Cauldron know what they’re doing. I don’t want to give too much of the magic away but I will say the first experience involves some wand waving and concoctions that change colour right in front of your eyes!
The Transformation Tonic looked absolutely beautiful at the end of the process but the taste did leave a little to be desired. I suspect this was because there was rather a lot of gin in it and that’s saying something coming from me! I’m unsure if it was me that messed up the recipe or whether the serving amounts are just slightly off but this is a seriously potent concoction (it was probs me).
It’s worth noting that the whole experience lasts around 1hr 40 mins and you can take your own time making your cocktails. You have pretty much zero interaction with the other people at the experience and every pair goes at their own pace. Once you’re done making your first cocktail, you can sit and sip away at your own pace, there’s no need to rush onto the second.
When we were ready for our third and final cocktail, we were handed a new recipe sheet with fresh instructions. There was some more wand waving but this time we made use of our Cauldrons and there was lots of magical smoke too. This cocktail, I loved. Again, I’m not really sure what it contained because the ingredients are masked by their magical names but this was my favourite cocktail of the experience. The end result looked like something you’d order in a nice bar in London so I was pretty impressed that I managed to whip it up myself, and in a Cauldron no less!
So is this Magical Cocktail Experience all it’s cracked up to be?
Hells yes it is!
For £29.99 you get a completely immersive magical experience as well as three cocktails. In London, the average price of a cocktail is £10 anyway so I thought this was a pretty decent price given that you also got to spend two hours waving your wand and doing all sorts of other magic tricks. I am a huge Potterhead and have been to numerous events hosted by the Warner Bros Studio Tour as well as Pottermore but this magical cocktail experience at the Cauldron still comes up top when it comes to London attractions for Harry Potter fans. I would highly recommend this Harry Potter experience in London to all fans of fantasy and magical worlds but this will no doubt be of particular interest to fans of the Harry Potter series.
The Cauldron has just started selling tickets for Volume II at its new location near Elephant and Castle. The experience doesn’t open until the 26th September 2018 but you can start purchasing tickets now here. This experience would be the perfect gift or surprise for a Harry Potter fan or fantasy nerd so and you can be sure these tickets will sell out quick! Nab yours now, you might just make someone’s Christmas wish come true!
Off peak: £29.99
London SE17 1LB, UK
Closest Tube Stop: Elephant and Castle