Falling through a mirror or being held hostage in a castle is, frankly, a lot of commitment. But dressing up for another casual night out at a bar is, on the other hand, a bit boring. Wanderlust Wines is teaming up with local events company Hidden to host two fantastic pop-ups that will turn a simple evening into a celebration of fantasy. And you can’t beat glassware in both of those stories.
The Alice Experience, the Alice in Wonderland, is about halfway through its tenure at Wanderlust, ending September 18, then moving to Beauty & The Beast on September 28, a similar cocktail activation. A visit to The Alice takes the form of a high tea (at least figuratively), while emphasizing the cocktails. The contents of the teacup vary: everyone has the opportunity to prepare two bespoke cocktails with wine-based spirits.
The experience isn’t unique to Austin, but because it relies on local businesses to host it, each is a little different in layout and decor. All pitches are dripping with flowers hung from the ceilings, mounted on the walls, and blooming from artful and dramatic trees. The magical, maximalist gardens include plenty of photo ops with neon signs and upholstered furniture, creating a whimsical anachronism to match whatever wacky outfits guests arrive in.
It’s not just for taking pictures either. The mind-blowing experience engages visitors in a number of small challenges, from solving puzzles to using the imagination: ‘play croquet with flamingos, paint roses red and devour a cookie’ Eat Me'”, promises a description of the event. Staff appear in costume and stay in character, completing the immersive experience and, more importantly, leaving space for visitors to do the same.
Beauty & The Beast: An Immersive Cocktail Experience attaches to the fairy tale of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, a French novelist who died more than 100 years before Walter Elias Disney breathed. Whether it’s a copyright workaround or a dash of sensibility that goes beyond animated canon, the ‘Victorian Cocktail’ teaser takes on a more precarious tone than the story of love or previous activation. A promotional video filmed in New York shares a similar garden setting, but in a darker style.
“Be careful not to overstay your welcome to take away anything that doesn’t belong to you,” he warns, “or you may not go home at all!” Promising “madness”, he asks if the visitors believe they can break the curse. This event leans more on the mysterious fantasy of the castle, augments puzzles and challenges with promises of drama, and replaces activities like flamingo croquet with dancing (without which no Beauty and the Beast reference would 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 draft winery”. The dining room has at least 56 wines and hosts weekly events including drag, Disney trivia, and musical bingo.
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.