If you find yourself in London, you love cocktails, and are partial to a bit of History – let me introduce you to….. The Bletchley!
The Bletchley is an immersive pop up experience, where staff are in full character throughout. This is no ordinary bar. In order to receive your drink, you must follow printed clues, listen to recorded telephone messages, and dial secret numbers to communicate deciphered codes to the bar staff (I mean Head Quarters). Only then, will you receive your drink – a personalised and bespoke cocktail, catered to your unique taste, made by a set of expert mixologists.
Located in a secret underground bunker in Kensington, The Bletchley is the new venture from Seb Lyall’s ‘Lollipop’. If you haven’t heard of Lollipop before – it’s the company that brought you ABQ (the Breaking Bad bar in East London where you ‘cook’ your cocktails in an RV), and The Bunyadi (London’s first naked dining experience!)
If you’re clued up on your WWII knowledge, you’ll recognise the name ‘Bletchley’. This pop was inspired by Alan Turing and his team of cryptographers, who successfully cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code at Bletchley Park in 1942, and shortened the war by approximately two to four years! Here at the Bletchley, it is your turn to take on the task of cracking codes with your very own enigma machine.
I had the pleasure of being invited down to the secret bunkers of The Bletchley to relive a poignant part of British History and loved every minute of it!
Upon entering the bunker, we were immediately greeted by staff in full costume and character. We were told we had a very important mission to complete and were shown our work table for the evening. We were provided with our own jackets and hats, an enigma machine, a telephone and headset, and a briefcase with instructions stuck to the top so we could fully immerse ourselves in the experience.
The instructions required us to type in a number on the combination lock to open the briefcase. To find the number, we followed clues written on the walls, followed the instructions on the enigma machine to reveal further hidden messages, and deciphered codes revealed to us over the radio. The fun didn’t stop there. Once we had successfully opened the briefcase, we found a set of bottles, each containing a different scent, a selection of shapes, and a variety of mouth sprays. The aim was to choose your favourite scent, shape, and flavour, and report your message/choice back to the Head Quarters. A personalised cocktail was then designed, based solely on the choices you had made – pretty cool!
We were provided with a further two puzzles, both handed to us in a sealed brown envelope by one of the officers, each puzzle with its own unique twist. Obviously, I can’t give too much away as I don’t want to spoil it, but both tasks had clues and codes stuck to the bunker walls that you had to solve in in order to select your drink. Once we had cracked the codes, we were given a variety of choices we had to make for example: our favourite country, colour, and mode of transport etc. – all which had their own secret meaning. Depending on what you chose, depended on the drink you received at the end.
Weirdly, we ended up swapping our cocktails. Somehow, the scents and flavours we had chosen for ourselves, ended up better suited to each other!
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at The Bletchley and would definitely recommend it. From the layout and decoration in the bar, to the characterisation of the staff, to the challenges and puzzles themselves, you are truly immersed in the events that took place in Bletchley Park from start to finish. Not only do you learn what it is like to be on the cryptography team, but you have some unique and delicious cocktails along the way!
I’m now off to watch the Imitation Game to learn more about Alan Turing and his team….
For more info, see website: The Bletchley