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Liquor is Quicker at NYLO’s Willy Wonka-Themed Cocktail Factory

How many people out there wished, when they were kids, that they were the one finding the Golden Ticket while reading Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (or watching one of the film adaptations)?

Most of us here at The Manual did. How could you not? Everything was edible. You literally couldn’t go wrong. You could try the plants or the chocolate river or … or … or …

It didn’t matter. That, to us, was heaven. Unfortunately, it also wasn’t real. It wasn’t real, that is, until now.

Thanks to Cody Goldstein of Muddling Memories and the team at the New York City hotel NYLO, you can now experience all of the joys that Charlie Bucket and crew got to experience on their trip to the candy factory and boy, are those joys damn tasty.

Held in the LOCL Bar at NYLO Hotel, the Willy Wonka-themed Cocktail Factory is a pop-up bar designed to tap into your finest childhood memories (and get you buzzed at the same time).

Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries Image used with permission by copyright holder

Each drink at the bar is designed to resemble something from the books, ranging from drinks like “The Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries” (gin, Jägermeister, lemon, cinnamon foam, and snozberries, of course) to the “Factory’s Special Chocolate Blend” (hot cocoa, cinnamon, fluff, mint, and bourbon or vodka) to the Pièce De Résistance, “Goodie Goodie Gumballs,” which is made with tequila, St-Germain, bitter lemon, and white cranberry and is served in a freaking gumball machine. Eager drinkers will get their candy, nostalgia, and booze fixes all at the same time.

While these cocktails may seem hard to conceive of without having them in front of you, the process for creating them, Goldstein says, hinged on the idea of guest experience (and his love of the Willy Wonka books, of course).

“[When designing the cocktails,] I try to think about what I want the experience to be for the guest. What I mean by that is will the drink evoke some kind of emotion (happiness, excitement, curiosity, surprise, etc.) and then I try to figure out how can I create that type of experience,” he says. “Once I have perfected how the drink will be presented (what will be the glassware, type of garnish, what will be the color, how is it poured, etc.) I then decide what will be inside the vessel and how will it represent the concept of the drink.”

Take the “Goodie Goodie Gumballs,” for example. The most insta-worthy drink on the menu comes from Goldstein’s passion for finding wacky vessels to serve drinks in.

Goodie Goodie Gumballs Image used with permission by copyright holder

“The theme of Willy Wonka really got me thinking outside of the box and allowed me the freedom to suspend peoples’ disbelief, much like in the movie. The vessel itself took months and months to perfect as you can imagine putting liquid inside of an actual gumball machine is defining physics. I was very fortunate to have sourced some of the last remaining gumball machine vessels that existed with a glass bottom,” he says.

So far, while the “Goodie Goodie Gumballs” was predicted to be the hands-down favorite, Goldstein says another drink, “That’s the Ticket” (vodka, hibiscus, apple, pop rocks, and edible gold) has been the sleeper hit.

“The drinks concept was to create something that was shiny and gold to resemble the famous Golden Ticket from the movie,” Goldstein says. “I underestimated peoples love of all things glitter and Pop Rocks.”

If you’re going to a cocktail bar for more than just cocktails, the Cocktail Factory has got you covered there, too. Candy is strung around the bar to match the theme, the hotel’s library doubles as a candy shop throughout the pop-up and if you are looking for something to take you a little higher, the Champagne Bubble Room (an off-shoot of the main bar) will offer Fizzy Lifting drinks.

That’s the Ticket Image used with permission by copyright holder

Willy Wonka said it best, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” so what are you waiting for? (If the sheer thought of living out the highlights of your childhood isn’t enough, $1 from every cocktail will be donated to Save the Children.)

The pop-up experience opened on December 1 and will last through January 31, so if you find yourself in New York City, you best make plans to find your way to the Cocktail Factory.

If you can’t, maybe you could re-watch Charlie & The Chocolate Factory instead:

Candy Is Dandy But Liquor Is Quicker!
Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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