For those of you who are over 21 and still waiting on a Hogwarts letter, you need only look to the Big Apple for your chance to escape the muggle world. The Cauldron NYC offers a potions class for grown-ups, where Potterheads can “use molecular mixology to brew drinkable elixirs”— all without the condescending glare of Severus Snape. The London-based bar crossed an ocean to invite wannabe witches and wizards to discover an immersive cocktail experience unlike any Harry Potter themed bar before it.
The exterior of The Cauldron looks like the Diagon Alley of New York, tucked away when it was still New Amsterdam. It is unlike the rest of the city and its modern architecture. Under towering buildings in earthy colors, Stone Street’s cobblestones wind their way through the very bottom of Manhattan in the Financial District. The scene transports you to somewhere magical even before you set foot in the door.
Upon entry, guests don black hooded robes just like Hogwarts students. They are presented with a magic wand, handcrafted in Ireland and available for purchase if someone wishes to keep it as a souvenir (the wand chooses the wizard, right?) Heavy wooden benches and tables serve as a work station during this 1 hour and 45-minute session. True to New York fashion, you will be seated in close proximity to other guests and may even share a table with them, depending on your party size. We doubled up at a work station with another couple on our first visit. We suggest a party size of 4-6 people to secure a table all to yourselves.
Included in this experience are three drinks per guest. The first drink is pour-it-yourself, with a wave of a wand. This starter potion will be served one of two ways: first is their Poetic Mead, poured from the mouth of a mischievous-looking gargoyle at your work station. The second way to receive a welcome potion is up at the bar, where guests select either a house mixed cocktail or a pint of beer on tap. We’d recommend their Hellbroth— a collaboration between the Cauldron NYC and Sixpoint Brewery with notes of pumpkin allspice, marigold, and vanilla.
It is with the second drink that the potion-making truly begins. Guests are given instructions to brew their own pitcher of Transfiguration Toniq, a colorful and floral beverage that changes from blue to purple when mixed. Gin and lavender make for an aromatic potion that tastes just as good as it smells.
The final drink, Lost Time, is a cocktail brewed in a cauldron that bubbles and smokes as it’s stirred. Ginger root, cardamom, and thyme are ground with a mortar and pestle before being added to this rum-based cocktail. A potions master adds “fairy dust” (AKA dry ice) to the cauldron to make it bubble and smoke, so have your cameras ready! Finally, it is strained into a cocktail glass to be enjoyed.
We sampled the signature drinks, which are available for additional purchases, and found these to be just as magical as the rest of the libations. For the brave at heart, we suggest Dragon’s Breath—a literal goblet of fire— which is a flaming strawberry daiquiri. The Bubbling Shots of Death make for an excellent drink among friends.
For witches and wizards who don’t drink or are designated drivers (someone has to fly the Ford Anglia home!), the Cauldron NYC offers alcohol-free alternatives. Gluten-free and vegan options are also available, you can specify your preference on your booking but it helps if you remind them on the night of your experience. When in doubt, ask your potions master!
Our tips for making the most of your experience at The Cauldron NYC:
Listen to your potions master: Think of this potions class as largely self-guided, so it’s very important to pay attention to your server as they steer you in the right direction. Printed directions will also be provided for two potable potions. If you still botch it, politely let your server know and they will help correct your batch or a bartender will send a finished product to your table.
Don’t waste time: Keep an eye on the clock as you mix your own potions, as your time here is limited to precisely 1 hr 45 min. That is ample time for your first pour, two mixed drinks, and, if used efficiently, add-on cocktails (not included in your booking). Be considerate of the muggles with the reservation time slot after yours, and don’t hang around. If you must linger for an additional 5-10 minutes, we’d suggest you reserve the latest time slot of the night.
Arrive precisely on time because your session begins at the time of your reservation… even if you arrive late. Arrive a few minutes early and take a short stroll around Stone Street and take in the city.
Book altogether to guarantee favorable seating: Meeting up with friends? Make your bookings together, all under one reservation. If your party is booked in separate reservations, they cannot guarantee you’ll be seated with your friends and it won’t be as simple as pushing two tables together.
Bring cash: Though your booking is paid for in advance, you will still need to tip your potions master (any server will tell you cash tips are easier and better than cards). You may also want to try a cocktail off their signature potions menu— ALL of which we recommend! (From flaming drinks to test tube vials)
Donate your favorite book: The Cauldron Pub doesn’t just give guests a magical experience, they also give back to their community. They host book drives to help and support developing readers in the US. On your visit, bring along your favorite childhood book and they will donate it to classroom libraries in need!
These immersive cocktail experiences last 1 hour and 45 minutes a session, cost is off-peak: $44.99 and peak: $54.99. Tickets are available here.
The Cauldron NYC
47 Stone Street, New York, NY 10004
Located on the 2nd floor of Bavaria Bierhaus
Phone: (917) 635-1960