A friend recently wrote “I spent Friday evening cracking codes deep in a secret bunker below Chelsea” and my ears perked up. This wasn’t to do with an escape game, so my ears perked up further. In truth, it wasn’t to do with an escape game to the extent that this post will use up some near-topic credit, but the moral of the story is that codes are sufficiently cool that other things are willing to stretch to associate themselves with them.
My friend was at The Bletchley, a pop-up cocktail bar. The decor has diagrams and scribbles of code on the wall, in jeeping with the theme. Participants pay in advance for a number of hours and cocktails; they order the first by using (something themed as) an Enigma machine to create a list of ingredients, which the mixologists in the bar use to create a bespoke cocktail. The participants then contact the staff by radio. Further instructions are provided as to how future cocktail orders might be encrypted before they are placed.
I will note that a large number of escape room fans of my acquaintance – though I don’t claim this to be a representative sample in the least – are notably sober types. (This feels a weird thing to write, knowing them; perhaps it’d be closer to the truth to say they don’t need to drink in order to have a good time.) The last time I gathered with a crowd of them, orders I had to place at the bar included a cranberry juice and a glass of hot water. (Cheap round!) While the Bletchley make it clear that they are perfectly happy to brew non-alcoholic cocktails as well as potent potables, you’ll know whether you are enough of a barfly to get a kick from this.
On other para-codebreaking news, cryptic crossword constructor and Puzzled Pint London co-founder Dr. Daniel Peake, a good friend of mine, has created several episodes of an online quiz show called, well, Codebreaker. If anybody who reads this has ever tried to work out a four-digit numerical code, they’ll be well and truly at home. Dan’s a fine host; both the questions he asks and the game that he has wrapped around them are finely balanced and great fun. There have been four episodes so far, with the last two (including the final, played for a cash prize) set to be uploaded to YouTube on the next two Wednesdays. Recommended!