How Multi-Sensory Cocktails Are Adding More Feels To Your Night Out

If you're a fan of cocktails, then you know that they can be an experience in and of themselves. The way bold and peppery rye whiskey coalesces with spicy bitters to temper a Sazerac's bite is like sipping down an orchestra of flavors. The full-bodied aroma of espresso and the slightly smoky scent of frothed milk is the essence of what makes an espresso martini so irresistible.

But what if you could take a sip of your cocktail and be transported to a different time and place by the aroma, texture, and complementary food pairing? Or imagine if your drink was served with a side of sound — like the bellowing boom of a black hole? It may sound like a futuristic concept, but it's already happening in some of the best bars around the world.

Multi-sensory cocktails use unconventional ingredients like smoke, foam, or even virtual reality to tell captivating tales that capture the senses. They incorporate colors, textures, and sounds to paint an immersive and interactive picture for the drinker. The goal of modern-day mixologists crafting these sensational libations is to invite you to become part of the story and experiment with your senses all while challenging traditional cocktail-making's boundaries.

So, what are you waiting for? Step out of the mundane and get ready to indulge your senses beyond taste. Let your imagination (and all five of your senses) run wild as you sip, see, and hear through some of the most unique cocktails out there.

The magic of multi-sensory cocktails

The charm of multi-sensory cocktails is that bartenders use creative techniques like dry ice smoke or edible flowers to add visual appeal, while ingredients like herbs and spices stimulate your taste and smell senses. As mentioned, some bartenders even use sound to enhance the drink experience (we'll get to the black hole experience shortly).

But why are these distinct drinks becoming so popular all of a sudden? Mark Tubridy, the bar manager at Baccarat Hotel New York, told Forbes that shows like Netflix's "Drink Masters" are partly to thank for the sensational cocktail creations we're starting to see. Mixologists are looking for new ways to immerse patrons in a story through spirits. To do so, they're having to rely on new tactics and techniques, such as the foie gras-washed whiskey and jalapeño air we saw in "Drink Masters."

However, as Jason Asher, the vice president of beverage at Grey Hen Rx, UnderTow, and Platform 18, pointed out in the same interview with Forbes, it's not enough to simply play with flavors. "Drinkers are expecting avant-garde presentations and interactive elements that swoop them into the moment with every sip," he said.

Tubridy echoed the sentiment by saying, "Whether it's a nostalgic aroma expressed through a vapor or smoke, an unexpected textural element in the form of a gel or foam or perhaps even a complementary food pairing, there are a variety of techniques the modern bartender can utilize to construct unforgettable experiences for their guests."

Where to indulge your senses

As the multi-sensory cocktail craze heats up, you're likely to see these types of cocktails pop up on bar menus everywhere. However, a few places around the world already offer immersive experiences worth checking out.

You can travel to London to unleash your inner mixologist with a multi-sensory theatrical adventure at Avora, where you'll experience a futuristic world on the brink of chaos. Upon entering, guests are fitted with a custom jumpsuit and thrown into the "resistance," which requires them to create their own unique, color-changing cocktail as an antidote to the otherworldly environment. Drawing on all the senses, it's a true cocktail journey that immerses guests in a captivating narrative. With sustainability at its core and creativity in its cocktails, Avora would seem to deliver a truly unforgettable evening out.

North American-based cocktail enthusiasts can head to Toronto to visit outer space-inspired Offworld Bar to indulge in the sensory experience of getting sucked into a black hole. As you enter the doors, you're welcomed aboard the mesmerizing, futuristic spacebar where you can order drinks like The Black Hole. The purple vodka-based milky, chocolaty cocktail is enhancedwith a real-life recording of the sounds emitted by a black hole for the ultimate multi-sensory experience. Slip on the noise-canceling headphones and sip on the sweet drink as the sounds of the cocktail take you on a journey to the edge of the abyss. 

Need help coming back down to Earth? Try one of these classic cocktails.