Cocktail shaker, shot glass, stirrer ... magic wand?
London-based South Jersey native Matthew Cortland and his partners are bringing The Cauldron Magical Pub, a fantasy-theme bar-restaurant inspired by the works of J.K Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, to a two-story space at 1305 Locust St. in Washington Square West. It will be the second Cauldron in the United States, after a location that opened in 2019 in New York City.
Target opening is this spring.
The Cauldron will have two experiences. One is a walk-in cocktail bar and gastropub serving food and what they’re calling molecular cocktails that showcase science. The Wizard of Menlo Park, for example, is a Thomas Edison-inspired ginger cocktail that shoots plumes of smoke into the air. All drinks, designed by cofounder David Duckworth, are made to be interactive and feature different effects, such as fire, ice, smoke, spherification, expansion, color change, clarification, and even love. (Damiana’s Charm uses Damiana, purportedly a natural aphrodisiac, as a sprinkled raspberry garnish.)
The food also will have a fantasy side. Fish and chips use sea-salt vapor to bubble and smoke. The cauliflower cheese is lit on fire and extinguished with liquid ribbons of Cheddar. Elven Bread is a warm, string-tied loaf of sweet bread wrapped in banana leaves, presented on a wooden log with lavender-honey yogurt dip.
The big deal is a ticketed, one-hour-and-45-minute “potion making” cocktail experience (starting at $39.99 a person) for which customers will get a wizard robe and a working magic wand. The wands, based on IoT (Internet of things), have sensors that keep up with the bar tab. This experience starts with a class called Spellcasting 101, during which customers pour a welcome cocktail or a nonalcoholic drink from the mouth of a glittering unicorn. Customers then move to a workstation, equipped with a cast-iron cauldron and instructions for making two drinks.
Cortland said the nonalcoholic beverage options have become popular among families at the New York location.
Cortland had Philadelphia in mind for the second location because his family lives and works in the area, and his first training as a teacher was with Teach for America at Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia. The Locust Street space, whose deal was brokered by Joseph Scarpone of MPN Realty, previously was Nomad Pizza.
In press materials, Cortland and Duckworth make it clear that while The Cauldron is inspired by fantasy and science-fiction, it is not endorsed by, affiliated with, or associated with Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling, or otherwise connected with Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World or any other specific book or movie.
“It takes ideas from literary and world history and brings them to life with science and technology,” they said.
“We are but geeks.”