We know how easily one happy hour cocktail becomes two (and, let’s be honest, how easily two becomes five). And there’s no hiding it the morning-after either – those dark rings around the eyes and not-so glowing complexion always give you away. But the gastronomical geniuses at Bompas and Parr may solved that problem with their latest creation: one that brings the fountain of youth to life in your very own highball glass.
The London-based food and drink alchemists have partnered with Warner Leisure Hotels to create the aptly named Anti-aGin, which, along with 40 per cent proof gin, it also contains several skin-boosting ingredients.
Distilled with pure collagen – a naturally occurring protein that helps give our skin its full, firm look, which sadly dwindles as we grow older. On top of the gulpable collagen, other antioxidants rich in ‘skin healing’ are included ranging from soothing chamomile, detoxifying green tea and anti-oxiding witch hazel oil. There’s also a dash of gotu kola – a green herb long revered for its healing properties – which is said to help combat cellulite and repair sun damage skin.
This innovative spirit is just the latest in a long line of the duo’s daring designs to enrich the food industry. Long-time friends Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are the co-founders of the culinary event planning group of ‘edible experimenters’ which is constantly coming up with creations that are in a world of their own. There was the world’s first ‘edible biography’ for James Squire in February 2016, which drew inspiration from the true story of James Squire himself – from criminal to legend – in a seven-course experience. Or take Sam and Harry’s creation of the world’s biggest jelly art back in 2012. The project saw a Victorian steamship, the SS Great Britain, set in and ‘floated’ on a sea of lime green jelly in deference to the 1867 Merchant Shipping Act, which required all ships to provide a daily ration of limes to prevent scurvy outbreaks. The pair’s team took six hours to mix 55,000 litres of lime flavouring and sodium alginate (a seaweed extract) in order to create an ocean the length of two Olympic swimming pools of glowing green jelly. The project weighed 50 tonnes. And there was no budget.
“[That] was one of our greatest challenges and something we’re enormously proud of,” Sam, the Bompas half of the team, tells Collective Hub.
“We provided all the ingredients free of charge, but knew we’d have to have a lot of man hours to make it happen. When we arrived onsite, we were introduced to the people who were going to help us make the world’s largest jelly – all ex-prisoners doing their community service! One had a scar right the way across his face and was called Hammer, as he’d killed someone with a hammer. He was a mighty jelly maker!”
The project in question ended with the world’s largest-ever jelly feast. And although the company has expanded from a small stall at London’s Borough Market in 2007 to a beast of a business that now “dominates all waking hours”, the fun of their projects has never been lost. The first foundation of their now-thriving business was, ironically, jelly. With a helping hand from Harry’s architecture background, the pair began to expand their repertoire of structures with the architect’s idea of using 3D-printed building models as moulds.
It was just a year after Sam and Harry started their market stall, when they decided to host a Jelly Banquet, that their direction in food really began to change.
“When we put tickets on sale for the Jelly Banquet, over 2000 people bought one. We were worried as the best jellies are relatively small and underwhelming,” explains Sam.
“We thought we’d be lynched by pissed-off punters, so we looked at how we could target the other senses to make for an engaging display. Canny lighting with the jellies used as fibre optics, coordinated jelly dances, a strawberry perfume, a sampled soundscape of jelly wobbling and a wrestling pit made the night a grand success.”
Since those early near-wobbles, there’s barely been a chance for fans to be disappointed. Sam and Harry, who have known each other since they met in the Eton orchestra at age 13, have crossed almost every food frontier there is. If you thought collagen-infused gin was out there, consider the fact they’ve created flavoured fireworks that matched red explosions with strawberry-scented clouds – among other flavours and colours – which engulfed watching crowds; cooked meat on molten lava measuring more than 1350˚C; and created the first cloud bar where beverages are consumed through the nostrils (and the eyeballs), replacing drinks with alcohol-laced vapour.
Considering the scope of some of the concepts they’ve dreamed up in the past, was there ever a project that had them wondering, ‘Can this really be done?’
“No, there’s always a way,” says Sam. “We tend to combine production and creative, which means it is easier to find a solution that is not sh*t.”
But that doesn’t mean they haven’t hit their fair share of snags along the way.
“Chocolate is always a tricky medium to work with. Last time we did a chocolate project, a couple of the guys said they would quit outright if we ever worked with the material again. There had been a bit of a chocolate emergency and brown tsunami. But I think it is remote enough to dally with chocolate once more.”
But with all that creativity, why not just load up on paints and canvasses instead?
“Working with flavour is hugely democratic,” Sam notes, “as everyone eats several times a day. So, in contrast to being an artist, who primarily work in the visual spectrum, you can create work that everyone understands and hopefully enjoys.”
On that note, it’s time to raise a glass to our evening skin and tonic.
Read the full story in Issue 33. Written by Laura Mangham and Bridget de Maine.