- A new wizarding pub has opened in Manhattan’s financial district.
- The pub is home to a “Tree of Life” which dispenses beer and working wands which act as your bar tab.
- Here’s what it was like to visit The Cauldron on its opening night.
During a visit to Manhattan’s financial district, you probably wouldn’t expect to end up in a magical pub with working wands – but that’s exactly what I did while in New York City last month.
The Cauldron, a “fantasy-inspired molecular cocktail bar and gastropub,” opened on Manhattan’s Stone Street in February, the same location where cofounders Matthew Cortland and David Duckworth launched a fantasy-themed cocktail-making class in September last year.
The entire project began as a Kickstarter in June 2017 to fundraise for what was, at the time, set to be a “wizarding” pub called the “Cauldron Wizarding Pub & Inn.” The cofounders wanted to use the Internet of Things – or what Cortland called “The Magic of Things” – to bring the magic of the wizarding universe to life inside a “small and shabby looking pub” inspired by the works of J.K Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis.
The concept first rolled out in London in the form of a potions class with “magic” working wands, bubbling cauldrons, and colour-changing alcohol – and after selling out, the idea was brought to New York.
Now, at the same time as the London experience has launched in a new location, the initial dream of launching a full wizarding pub has become a reality in Manhattan.
The two-storey pub is home to a walk-in bar (The Apothecary) on the main floor as well as the ticketed potion-making cocktail experience upstairs.
Here’s what it was like to visit on The Cauldron’s opening night.
The Cauldron is situated on historic Stone Street in Manhattan’s Financial District. It’s pretty easy to spot because of the lion statue outside.
The pub is pretty quirky at the front, complete with lots of foliage and lights.
There’s also a giant fake tree growing out of the middle of it, which was guarded by a wizard when we arrived.
There are a few other nooks and crannies perfect for a cosy evening.
As you make your way towards the back, it looks like a pretty standard old English pub.
Up the stairs to the second floor you’ll find the reception to the ticketed potions classes.
The bar up there is also pretty cool.
Shortly after finding a seat downstairs (we opted for the bar), we were given “magic” wands, which I was pretty excited about. This wand essentially acts as your “tab” for the evening.
We realised the 16-foot tree — called the “Tree of Life” — was actually made up of a bunch of beer taps — you simply need to tap your wand on the tree for the beer to pour into your glass.
Once you’ve had a couple of pints, you can check the damage by tapping your wand on what appears to be a mirror, but is actually a digital display screen. Beers were around $US8.
However, if cocktails are more your style, this is the place to be. The molecular drinks are pretty scientific, which makes sense, as the founders call science “the magic of our world.” The night I visited, cofounder David Duckworth was behind the bar — and he certainly made things entertaining. There was a lot of smoke involved with this drink…
…And Duckworth even appeared to set himself on fire at one point.
The cocktails are all designed to be interactive — and there are plenty of special effects involved. Here’s “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” an $US18 ginger cocktail inspired by Thomas Edison which shoots plumes of smoke into the air. A number of the cocktails are named after people Duckworth called “real life magicians.”
You can also order “The Blob,” ($US15), an aloe and tequila cocktail with an expanding head.
Meanwhile, “Ode to Mullica” ($US14) is a bourbon and maple cocktail served in a smoking bell jar.
Sitting at the bar was a good choice.
There are some pretty wild-looking sharing cocktails you can order, and there’s even a “love potion” which used natural aphrodisiac Damiana as a sprinkled raspberry garnish.
In classic British pub fashion, you can order some comfort food, too — including a roast on Sundays. We opted for the “elven bread” ($US12)…
…And some ribs ($US17), just because. Both were pretty tasty for pub food, and the portions were big.
I then borrowed a cloak from Duckworth and spent some time exploring the rest of the pub. Currently, you can also use your wand to turn on some of the lanterns — but there are plans for the venue to become more of a magical treasure hunt. While The Cauldron stresses that it is “not endorsed by, affiliated with, or associated with” Harry Potter or any other story in any way, I certainly felt like I was spending the night at Hogwarts.
While the concept may sound gimmicky, the quality of the cocktails — and the thought that has gone into the menu and the design of the venue — don’t make it seem that way. Whether you’re a fan of the fantasy world or simply of a good pub with good drinks, this is a pretty magical way to spend an evening in Manhattan.
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