Art or Inebriation? New Exhibit Allows You to Absorb Alcohol Through Your Skin | Center on Addiction

Art or Inebriation? New Exhibit Allows You to Absorb Alcohol Through Your Skin

Art or Inebriation? New Exhibit Allows You to Absorb Alcohol Through Your Skin

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New trends continue to emerge in the food and beverage arena, but this one caught us by surprise. It’s called breathable alcohol and is essentially a cocktail cloud that causes people to become intoxicated 40 percent faster than a standard drink.

How does it work and where is it happening?

It’s happening at Alcoholic Architecture, a pop-up bar installation in London, England. Visitors enter a room and become immersed in a gin and tonic cloud of vapor, which has been pumped through a high-powered humidifier. The vapor is absorbed through the skin and eyes. And because the alcohol bypasses the liver and goes directly to the bloodstream, the intoxication is very intense and immediate. This is why the maximum amount of time allowed in the vapor area is 50 minutes, which is equivalent to drinking a very large gin and tonic.  As far as safety goes, visitors are required to wear a poncho, leaving only their hands and face revealed because exposing too much skin to the vapors is dangerous. However, they are allowed to bring in an alcoholic beverage with them as they enter the breathable alcohol area of the bar and are encouraged to “breathe responsibly.”

Why is this appealing to people?

This method of consuming alcohol provides less calories and makes it easier and faster to get intoxicated. But even more than that, it’s a novelty experience. Bompas & Parr, the creators behind the bar, wanted to push limits of art and food entertainment. The design firm, which specializes in flavor-based experience design, says they are influenced by the Picasso quote, “good taste is the enemy of creativity.”

Is it art?

Exploring the website of Bompas & Parr shows the immense talent that their company has harnessed and highlights that they are artists in their own right. But can the alcohol cloud really be considered art? Let’s use this scenario as an example: if one goes to an art gallery opening, one may drink the wine that is often provided at such an event. However, the wine is not the art. It just so happens to be in the same room as the art. Bompas & Parr seem to have taken it one step further, marketing the alcohol as the art.  However, many see this as a gimmick – as a new way to get drunk faster. And that does not make drinking into an art form. 

  Kate Federici, MSW

  Kate Federici is a Research Associate at Center
  on Addiction

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