Full Of Intrigue, Mystique And Thoroughly Unique - A Review Of Hendrick's "Chambers Of The Curious"
A heady but brilliant experience.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled”. The words of the great historian Plutarch speaking on the topic of curiosity. One might think a time hop to an evening at Hendrick’s Gin’s Chambers Of The Curious might lead to a reassessment of that statement.
A heady experience throughout, it’s impossible to escape having one’s mind filled up with all the dazzling features immediately on offer upon entering: taxidermy galore, candles flickering softly on terracotta walls, doctors in lab coats floating along passageways, open fires with plenty of kindling, cucumbers everywhere you look, G&Ts, other immaculate gin-based cocktails, more G&Ts, etc. The mind feels both full from these sensory effects and curious for more.
Aside from the plush main bar room – where Dublin’s finest cocktail makers, disco DJs and a live vocalist ensure the atmosphere is lively throughout the night – The Chambers Of The Curious revolves around several different ‘experiences’ on offer.
We’re not talking a simple cocktail mixing class or a sleekly-edited projected video here; these are opportunities to experience cutting-edge science!
With three equally-intriguing options laid out before me, I went for the “Ocular Cocktail Creator”, which promised to provide a personality test by analysing the movement of my eyes as I viewed a series of images.
Eyes calibrated, infrared beams deftly keeping track of my retinas, I underwent what was surely one of the most original personality tests I’ve come across (and I’m a sucker for peculiar online personality tests!).
Avoiding the newspaper horoscope approach of telling you everything will be A-OK, Prof. Monty’s analysis was both cleverly-delivered and worthy of some serious consideration.
Back in the main room I watched a nurse in scrubs dissecting a panna cotta replica of the human brain, and then eating several pieces of said brain. I then went on to partake in my final experience of the night: an immersive dream sequence exploration of taste delivered through the much-talked about and yet to be brought to market Oculus Rift headset. In short: describing the effect as ‘trippy’ doesn’t even cut it.
All in all this was a magnificent event. The combination of an unusual location (a partially-dilapidated Georgian terrace house), incredible attention to detail in terms of temporary décor, supreme cocktails and a surprisingly complex array of coordinated activities made this a truly stand out event. The coherent aesthetic of it all is what tickled me the most: from the introductory meeting with Bubbles to the performances by staff assisting each of the ‘experiences’, a curious and consistent energy ran throughout.