Two Impossible Things By Happy Hour
Falling through a mirror or being held hostage in a castle is, frankly, a lot of commitment. But getting dressed for another casual bar night is, on the other hand, a little boring. Wanderlust Wines is teaming up with local events company Hidden to host two fantastical pop-ups that will turn a simple night out into a celebration of whimsy. And you can’t beat the glassware in these two stories.
The Alice, the Alice In Wonderland experience, is about halfway through its tenure at Wanderlust, ending September 18, and subsequently transitioning to Beauty & The Beast on September 28, a similar cocktail activation. A visit to The Alice takes the form of a tea party (at least figuratively), while maintaining a focus on cocktails. What’s in the teacup varies: everyone gets a chance to make two bespoke cocktails with wine based spirits.
The experience is not unique to Austin, but since it relies on local businesses to host, each one is a little different in layout and decor. All locations are dripping with flowers hung from the ceilings, mounted on walls, and blooming out of crafty show-stopping trees. The magical, maximalist gardens include plenty of photo ops with neon signs and tufted furniture, creating a whimsical anachronism to suit whatever wacky outfits guests arrive in.
It’s not just for taking photos, either. The mind-bending experience engages visitors in a number of little challenges, from solving riddles to using the imagination: “play croquet with flamingos, paint the roses red and devour an 'Eat Me' cookie,” an event description promises. Staff appear in costume and stay in character, completing the immersive experiment, and most importantly, holding space for visitors to do the same.
Beauty & The Beast: An Immersive Cocktail Experience attaches itself to the fairytale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, a French novelist who died more than 100 years before Walter Elias Disney drew breath. Whether this is a copyright workaround or a hint of a sensibility that goes beyond the animated canon, the teaser for the “Victorian cocktail party” takes a more precarious tone than the love story or the previous frolicking activation belies. A promotional video filmed in New York City shares similar garden decor, but in a darker style.
“Be careful not to overstay your welcome to take anything that’s not yours,” it warns, “or you may not get home at all!” Promising “madness,” it asks if visitors believe they can break the curse. This event leans more on the mysterious castle fantasy, augments the riddles and challenges with promises of theater, and replaces activities like flamingo croquet with dancing (without which no Beauty and the Beast reference would be complete). It also includes two bespoke cocktails and themed treats.
Wanderlust Wine Co. operates two locations — one downtown and one in East Austin — and claims the title of the "world's largest self-pour wine on tap winery." The taproom has at least 56 wines, and runs weekly events including drag, Disney trivia, and musical bingo.
Both The Alice and Beauty & the Beast are 90-minute experiences ($49.50 and $47 per person, respectively). Costumes and photos are encouraged. For tickets and more information, visit explorehidden.com.