Why virtual reality could be the next big bar trend

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

Why virtual reality could be the next big bar trend
Virtual reality (VR) is already shaking up the world of gaming and hotel booking, but now cocktails could be set to take on a whole new dimension.

According to Jamie Jones, group bar executive at Jason Atherton’s The Social Company, augmented reality headsets could be cropping up in UK bars within the next few years.

Speaking at trade show Imbibe Live this week, Jones said: “It’s not going to be long until you are literally transported via a VR headset to an all-encompassing environment…with [accompanying] smells and aromas.”

Jones - who oversees the drinks offering at Atherton's 17 global restaurants - added that he was working on 'a new concept to launch next year' using the technology.

Sight and smell have been found to dramatically alter the dining experience. A 2013 study discovered that visual displays could be used to impact the taste of whisky,​ with participants more likely to perceive a ‘woody’, ‘sweet’ or ‘grassy’ tang to a drink when shown a short audio-visual film emphasising each flavour.

Jones even raised the possibility of a future bar with guests sitting in an all-white room, each having their own VR experience via a headset.

“It’s the silent disco of the cocktail world,” he joked. “But it won’t be long before VR is a part of cocktail making.”

In 2015 bartender Benji Purslow Of Keystone Crescent member’s club in London paired VR and cocktails, transporting the drinker to a Tuscan villa complete with fig trees and chirping birds.

Last Christmas TGI Friday’s became one of the first UK restaurants to serve up a VR experience​ by allowing customers to take the reins of a Lapland dog sled while tucking in to the chain’s festive menu.

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