I like to think of myself as a some sort of magical travel genie when it comes to planning trips away because I somehow manage to find the craziest things, no matter where we go. And whilst I rarely leave a stone left unturned in the geeky activities department, a few things will occasionally slip under my radar – The Magic Potions Tavern being one of them.
Department of Magic is a relatively new company in Edinburgh who are the owners of two Harry Potter inspired Escape Rooms, as well as the Magic Potions Tavern – a wizard-themed cocktail bar, where you can brew your own potions. I’ve had a go at brewing potions before at The Cauldron in London, and whilst it was a lot of fun – you get to run around in robes whilst stirring drinks with the wave of a wand – the experience was slightly marred by the incredibly long wait times, and how ridiculously overpriced it was.
Even so, I was actually considering visiting their Edinburgh branch – because Harry Potter – until I was made aware of the Department of Magic, who were offering virtually the same thing at less than a quarter of the price, so it was ‘Goodbye Cauldron and Hello Potions Tavern – please don’t be shite!’
And shite it was not.
After having a little trouble booking a reservation – you can’t book a slot in house, so have to do it over the phone, but not on Sunday’s, even though the venue is open? – Me, Jess, and his parents; Anita and Geoff, descended to the basement bar down Blair Street, just off the Royal Mile, and got our pick of the room. We opted for a corner booth because of its board game strewn table and comfy looking chairs.
The venue reminded me of the Leaky cauldron with its long fireplace, scattered tables and miss-matched chairs. Décor was quite minimal, but the wizard theme was obvious, with ivy covered walls, dusty cabinets filled with mysterious looking artefacts, broomsticks, cauldrons, and lots of photo frames and cobwebs. There were even a few Harry Potter books dotted about in case you hadn’t realised the experience was inspired by the boy wizard.
We were each given menus and asked to pick a cocktail, and with four to chose from it wasn’t an easy decision. They were all Harry Potter themed and inspired by different lessons in the book, so you had Herbology 101 to test your green thumbs, The Dark Lord which promised blood and brains, Potion No. 9 for a colour changing treat, and Liquid Gold for.. liquid gold.
They were also centred around different spirits, so I opted for Potion No. 9 because it was gin based, Anita went for Herbology 101, and both Jess and Geoff chose the rather ominous sounding Dark Lord because it was meant to be the strongest.
In the meantime we were brought out a little chest filled with shots and dry ice whilst we waited for our potion ingredients. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but we chose one of each, ranging from the ridiculously strong, to one that just tasted like baileys. It was fun opening the chest to reveal the little drinks as smoke rolled onto the table.
The cocktails came out on trays with a set of very detailed instructions, and every single ingredient was in its own little container, so it really did feel like you were in a potions lesson. The boys drinks came first with four different coloured liquids, a glass skull, and what looked like a shrivelled eyeball – though I’ve since been informed it was a peeled plum.
Anita’s, which was my favourite, came with its own adorable plant pot to mix everything in, stoppered vials and a pestle and mortar for grinding up raspberries. It was definitely the most hands on out of the three – she really had to put a bit of wellie into it.
My cocktail came out already bubbling with a tiny jar of fairy dust and three colourless bottles. Each one changed the colour of the cocktail as you added them to the glass until it became this iridescent purple, it was really quite magical. It tasted great too, which is unusual for something so theatrical.
We were told the session would last about half an hour, but we ended up spending around 2 hours in there all together – it was a great way to break up a long day exploring Edinburgh, especially since it was so close to all of the main attractions.
It’s definitely a must for any Harry Potter fans visiting the city, and if you can tie it in with a Potter inspired tour, that’s even better. But you know what, if you’re not a fan of the books, you’d still get a kick out of this because it’s so different and hands on that it would be hard not to enjoy yourself, and at only £6 a ticket if you grab one through Groupon, it would be rude not to check it out.
Address | Magic Potions Tavern, 9 Blair Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR
Website | https://departmentofmysteries.com/
What to read next:
- The Ultimate Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh
- Diagon House | A Harry Potter Inspired Store in Edinburgh
- Five Things Harry Potter Fans Can Do In York
- Harry Potter Filming Locations in London