Chief Agent 453 provided us with the information we needed to find The Bletchley, the top-secret war room that was to be our evening destination on our recent overnight visit to London. Actually finding the place was our first test of the evening and I must admit, even with Google maps on our side, it was still a struggle. But we found it in the end – a solitary door which led down in to the latest project from Lollipop, a pop up bar based on the history of Bletchley Park and how Alan Turing and his team of cryptographers cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code during World War II. If you are not familiar with the breakthrough check out the Benedict Cumberbatch film – The Imitation Game.
Mr ESLT ‘s interest in World War II, and Bletchley Park in particular is off the chart – documentaries, TV shows, films, books, you name it, he has either watched it or read it and my enthusiasm for cocktails matches his for code cracking. So a trip to The Bletchley seemed like the perfect way to spend a few hours whilst down in the Big Smoke. Tickets are priced at £30 which includes a welcome drink, 2 Cryptic Cocktails and 2 hours inside the room. Bookings can be made directly on their website and with it being a pop up bar, we advise you don’t leave it too long as it may be gone as quickly as it appeared.
From the second we arrived to the second we left every member of staff stayed flawlessly in character and barring the MacBook used to check people in, you could be forgiven for thinking you were actually back in the 1940’s. The room was dimly lit and the smoke machine was working overtime, making it quite difficult to take photos (a blogger’s nightmare!), but adding to the atmosphere. Each guest also received a themed jacket to wear throughout the experience which allowed us to get into character ourselves.
After checking we were both drinking booze and that we didn’t have any allergies, we were handed our welcome drinks and shown to our table. Unfortunately for us, right under a speaker which was pumping out quite loud music. I sound like a miserable so-and-so, I know, but being able to hear is a fundamental part of The Bletchley experience, keep reading to find out why. On each table there was also an Enigma machine and a task to complete, which was SO much fun, seriously! Mr ESLT and I loved it. After inputting some data into the machine we received a code back which was the code that would be then used to create our very own cocktail. Therefore, we both completed the task to give us two unique codes. We then had to radio the codes through to HQ using the radios. Again, radios were provided at each table. We each had to choose a code name – mine was Agent Red and Mr ESLT’s was Agent Blue. Therefore, because of the loud music above our heads it made it difficult to hear what was being said but we got there in the end and sat back and waited for our cocktails to be delivered.
The cocktails arrived along with a wax sealed envelope which contained the secret recipe for our cocktails based on the code we had cracked, together with the rules for the next task. The cocktails were STRONG and very good. Although, as you don’t know what is in your drink until you receive it, you have to be quite willing to try anything – coffee, garlic, rhubarb etc. (although not at the same time), as there is the possibility you may receive something you wouldn’t normally choose from the bar yourself. We then went through the process for the second task and cracked the code without problem, it was using the radio that again proved to be our issue, but again we got there in the end. With another round of drinks delivered to our table which were just as strong as the first, I’ll be honest I was starting to feel quite tipsy – but that’s not a bad thing though, right?
The two hours flew by in what felt like ten minutes and we had a fantastic evening and would highly recommend it, even if you are not a history or World War II buff. Just be prepared to wait a little longer than you normally would for your drink as there are only a couple of mixologists for the whole room and there is the possibility that everyone will crack their code at the same time. On the whole a very cool concept and one we are glad to have been given the opportunity to try out.
- Our experience at The Bletchley (also, some photos in the post) was provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review.