Cocktails With A Side Of Virtual Reality

By Alyson Krueger
Tribune Interactive

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) What is a virtual reality cocktail? The drink itself is your standard alcoholic beverage. The virtual reality part comes when you put on an Oculus virtual-reality headset that transports you to all the places involved in the spirits’ making.

Tribune Interactive

In downtown Chicago, high above the Magnificent Mile, is a sexy bourbon and whiskey bar in the Conrad Chicago Hotel named Baptiste & Bottle. Every detail, from the industrial light fixtures to the reclaimed wood walls, is meant to evoke creamy, brown liquors and the distilleries that make them.

You can order a Sazerac Flight with mini versions of the classic rye-and-cognac cocktail. Or the Curtsy and a Bow, a house favorite made of bourbon mixed with absinthe and steamy tonka fog. One cocktail, however, stands out from the rest: the Macallan Rare Journey. It costs $95 and includes virtual reality.

The drink itself is simple: a generous shot of Macallan Rare Cask combined with 30-year-old dry Spanish sherry. The “journey” part comes when you put on an Oculus virtual-reality headset that transports you to all the places involved in the spirits’ making.

As if drunk people need more stimulation, a handful of bars are locked in an arm’s race to outdo one another with elaborate virtual reality-infused cocktails. As sci-fi fans stream into theaters this weekend to catch Steven Spielberg’s dystopian VR blockbuster “Ready Player One,” the rest of us can at least toast to the future with a glass of single malt.

Raquel Raies, national brand ambassador for Macallan who debuted the Rare Journey in July 2017, is sure her creation was the first VR cocktail in the world. “It took me seven months to perfect, but no one else was doing it,” she said.

The Rare Journey takes the tippler above the treetops of an American forest from which Macallan’s whiskey casks originate, then on to Southern Spain and the sherry distillery that flavors the wood. The final stop is the 390-acre distillery and a toast with its master whiskey maker. During the Journey, Baptiste & Bottle bartenders bring out trays of toasted moss and vessels of smoke to heighten the sensory experience.

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