Whoever wants to participate must be willing to play, that is one of the main conditions for those who want to live this experience. And, as we mentioned initially, being part of this Buenos Aires bar named El Purgatorio. It is not for everyone.
This ‘speakeasy‘ style bar is located in Buenos Aires, the busiest city and exotic of Argentina. However, getting to this place is not easy: El Purgatorio is hidden behind a facade and it is not possible to find the address in networks, or on the Internet, or anywhere else.
So … how does one get to visit El Purgatorio? The only way to know the address and be able to access it is through a form found at https://elpurgatorio.club/. There you complete ten questions and then a jury will decide whether or not applicants will be eligible to be part of the experience.
In a chat with Gastón Abramoff, director of this initiative, we were able to obtain more information about what this 100% immersive experience in a parallel reality is about:
We currently have more than 36,000 pending requests, so the response time for requests is estimated to be around 40 days. We already have more than 8,000 members from different parts of the world.
How did the proposal for this bar in Buenos Aires come about?
My experience in the field tells me that people love ‘speakeasy’ and thematic or concept bars. Although they have a useful life cycle, people go and live their experience sometimes, after a while it stops being novelty and they move to other experiences. Being a little aware of this scenario, we created ‘El Purgatorio’. I do not define it as a bar, for me it is as a mechanism by which we can tell a story through different gastronomic experiences.
The story we decide to tell is that of a secret society, called UNUM, which meets in Purgatory. Our meaning of what a purgatory is is not the same as that found in the Bible or referred to by religion, but we consider ‘Purgatory’ as the place where this secret society met to carry on The final judgement’.
Here, visitors to the bar located in a secret place in Buenos Aires can enjoy from a dinner “Avaritia”, with steps for 36 people that takes place on Thursdays from 8:30 pm; a tarot card reading in which fate chooses the cocktails; to the unstructured and crazy celebrations like the “mankind free will” that happen on Saturdays.
The great objective that began when El Purgatorio began was to be able to tell a story through different gastronomic experiences, with a space that is versatile enough so that people can continue visiting the place and discover different details and situations:
The Final Judgment consists of 7 challenges, one for each of the deadly sins, to see if you are worthy of heaven (from Latin cælum). Ultimately it is the place where this secret society is planning to have or develop a new nation.
Today when you start in this secret society, the first event you should attend is the Dinner of Avarice on Thursdays, which is a dinner for only 36 people, where it has the particularity that the more to the right you are located from the table, the better the food and drink. It’s a 12-step dinner, and at each step you have to decide whether you are going to conspire or betray the person in front of you. And depending on the decision they make, they move to one side or the other.
The rest of the days we have a la carte dinner and on Saturdays we already have a bar option with a DJ playing music and people standing there having drinks. Our goal for the middle of this year is to launch a proposal inspired by the second cardinal sin of laziness.
We constantly try that our visitors live an experience within another experience. We try to be even in the smallest detail: from dining with chandeliers on each of the tables, to the setting, going through the fact of entering the premises in a surprising way …
The experience of this bar in Buenos Aires has the talent of the bartender Mauro Aliendro, head of the bar at El Purgatorio. The kitchen, meanwhile, is directed by the renowned chef Esteban Leira:
How would you explain what the visitor encounters when they arrive at El Purgatorio?
Mainly, the first time they enter, as they are guided by the little that can be seen on social networks, they get a big surprise. And then the bewilderment plays a lot. Perhaps they come pre-set with a conception of what they can find, and we try to play with the ambiguity of the story. For us, Purgatory has nothing to do with death, it has to do with something else.
When someone comes to Purgatory, they not only eat and drink well, but they live in a secret society. He feels part of it and above all he takes something to tell his friends throughout the week.
For what is the cocktail menu, instead of being a normal menu as in other bars, a waitress dressed in a robe approaches and throws the Tarot cards. The Tarot decides your destiny, then it has a playful part. The cocktails are served in French glassware, the dishes from the food menu by chef Esteban Leira are served in European crockery.
El Purgatorio is a bar that is governed by admission rules, what is the reason for this game with the occult and the selective?
It is a detail to add to the story that we tell. Never being part of a group or a secret society was something simple or something for everyone. We believe that admission is a spectacular process. We ask the most diverse questions: we ask about your life, if you have pets, your dreams, your wishes. And that helps us to have a little profile of the people who are coming and that helps us to disconcert. There are people who still do not dare to fill out the admission form, or there are people who are afraid to attend because they do not know what they will find.
At the bar we do not reject people neither by age nor by appearance. If we have rejected requests for profiles that are a bit worrying because perhaps they read El Purgatorio and had another idea of what we offered here. The fact of admission helps us not to collapse the place and that the experience is with groups of a certain number of people. With the level of service we want to provide and the level of experience we offer, we need to work with less people. It is also a way of spacing.
If you want to know more in detail about what the experience in this unique bar in Buenos Aires is about, we invite you to complete the admission application at https://elpurgatorio.club/
As if all the aforementioned were not enough, El Purgatorio stands out for having established itself as the bar in Buenos Aires that presents one of the largest cocktail bars in South America: “We have Gin from all over the world. In El Purgatorio you find gin from Spain, France, Italy, Australia, China, Korea, India, Ireland, Singapore, everywhere. We also have unique bottles… last month we added 18 whiskeys from unique distilleries in Japan. “