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Sensory Sips

W Brisbane's new Living Room Bar cocktail menu comes with an immersive light, sound and art installation.
By Sarah Ward
September 20, 2023
By Sarah Ward
September 20, 2023

Don't just grab a drink. If you're heading out for a sip with a date or mate, you want it to feel like an occasion, even if there's nothing particularly special to celebrate. Located inside the W Brisbane hotel, Living Room Bar understands that train of thought. Even better — it keeps trying to make knocking back cocktails within its walls stand out via creative collaborations and installations.

In 2022, the venue teamed up with top Barcelona bar Paradiso, aka the third-best bar on the World's 50 Best Bars list for 2021, on a special menu featuring the Spanish spot's globally acclaimed beverages. Now, for at least six months across the second half of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, Living Room Bar is pairing its latest cocktail offering with an immersive light, sound and art setup.

The watering hotel has dubbed its latest excuse to drop by Sensory Sips, with art and design studio Loose Collective taking care of everything that patrons see and hear. On offer: bespoke work all around the North Quay bar, including mesmerising lighting effects, audiovisual sculptures, motion graphics, and patterns projected across the floor, roof and even the bar itself. In one especially eye-catching piece called Light Lines, 400 lit-up vines made from medical-grade silicon look like they're floating.

That's what Sensory Sips has opened with. The idea is for this dazzling setup to not just let cocktail lovers feel like they're escaping, but for it evolve over its stay, which started in August 2023 and will run until mid-February 2024 at the earliest. So, that means that Brisbanites have plenty of motivation to head along more than once — and ample time to do so.

As for the drinks, the event's nine cocktails are made with Brown-Forman spirits, with each concoction designed to also engage the senses just like the installations around the bar (and given names such as The Hypnotist, The Heist and Mystique to match). Among the highlights, The Illusionist goes floral and colourful with gin, violet-flavoured liqueur, white chocolate bitters, hibiscus, coconut, lemon and butterfly pea ice — and, crafted to appear as if it is floating, The Magician combines whisky, Frangelico, cocoa nibs and bloody mary drops.

If you opt for the Cirque Du Fizz, you'll be sharing your sips with at least one other person (minimum: two) while tasting vodka, butterscotch bitters, marmalade cordial, sage, lychee and Australian Daintree tea.

Not hitting the hard stuff? The Ballerina is Sensory Sips' non-alcoholic option, as made with a lemon marmalade and hibiscus non-boozy wine, zero-alcohol dry gin, lemon and lychee foam. And, when it's served, it comes with a light projection showing stars.

Images: Markus Ravik.

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