When you order a drink or two, you accept that your inhibitions may be a bit altered. But what about your perceptions? That’s just the idea behind the neuroscience-inspired Neuro Bar Lab that The Ramble Hotel is serving up in partnership with DCPA Off-Center’s Theater of the Mind.
“We were very intrigued by the concept of Theater of the Mind, and that our perception of reality is more malleable than we think,” said Ryan Diggins, owner of The Ramble Hotel. “We wanted to expand on some of the neuroscience ideas explored in the show and create a gastrophysics-inspired sensory experience by way of cocktail tasting.”
The Ramble Hotel and its internationally renowned bar partner, Death & Co, set out to do just that — create a multi-sensory experience meant to test perceptions and stimulate all of the senses…not just the tastebuds.
“With the help of Charlie Miller, DCPA Off-Center’s Executive Director and Curator, we reached out to Colorado-based neuroscientists to learn about various disciplines such as bias, brain barriers and reward response,” explained Diggins. “Then we worked with our partners at Death & Co to showcase the concepts using liquor as the medium. Think science fair for grownups, with a healthy buzz as a reward for participation.”
When you reserve the Neuro Bar Lab experience, you will be treated to the exclusive Suite 6A where your private bartender will serve up the full six-course, prix-fixe cocktail menu intended to trick your senses.
When you mix two types of brandy, simple syrup and malic acid what do you get? Something that looks like not-so-average Jello shots. Made with the same flavor combination but served up as three different colors, your mind tells you they should taste differently…but do they?
This next drink will take you back to your childhood…with a twist. Starting with a base of bourbon, soda water, simple syrup and a few more tasty ingredients, those of us who are now 21+ will mix in a combination of three flavors…birch (take a taste), wintergreen (sip a bit) and, finally, vanilla. The result? An alcoholic version of root beer. Where’s the ice cream? Root beer float anyone?
Next up is a taste test. The same drink prepared with two different sweeteners. First, you start with a base of white rum and lime. Then, one is sweetened with sucrose and the other with dextrose. Everyone is sure to have a favorite…yet no one is likely to agree.
This next drink will take you back to the crisp fall days of your childhood. First, the bartender will serve this drink…with a blindfold. No peeking! Then, let your sense of smell do all the work. And this one’s a doozy! Made with an assortment of alcohols, cane syrup, lemon and a surprise ingredient, this drink will stimulate your olfactory senses and keep you guessing.
The real star of this martini is not the vodka; rather, it’s the olive…or is it? Using a cooking technique made popular in the 2000s, the team had a lot of fun with “reverse verification.” The process involves taking a whole ingredient like an olive, reducing it into juice, then freezing it until it turns into something almost like gelatin. It’s reminiscent of a fruit gusher. Umm…yes, please.
TRPM8. No, that’s not a secret code or the name of R2D2’s clone; rather, it is a protein that serves as the primary molecular transducer of cold somatosensation in humans. Or…the think in our brains that controls our ability to recognize cold and menthol. So those clever mixologists at Death & Co. discovered how to pair an assortment of alcohols to taste just like your favorite mint tea, which is a refreshing flavor to cap off this menu of multi-sensory libations.
For those die-hard David Byrne fans who want to maximize their experience at Theater of the Mind by pairing their tickets with the Neuro Bar Lab, make sure to leave 30-60 minutes following your show before your reservation, so that your mind…and its perceptions…are fully restored.
Reservations are currently being accepted for Neuro Bar Lab, which includes the full six-drink menu. If you’d rather just try one or two, inquire at the main bar to see if they have extra individual beverages for purchase.
And for those who want to expand their experience even more, the up-scale boutique hotel also created an in-room experience called the Neuro Nightcap, which features a sensory expanding cocktail and custom playlist created by multi-media artist and Theater of the Mind co-creator David Byrne.
“Both the Neuro Nightcap and Neuro Bar Lab are dynamic, thought-provoking experiences in their own right, but when paired with Theater of the Mind, everything is enhanced,” Diggins added. “We hope we’re providing additional outlets for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the show and keep the Theater of the Mind party going.”