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I’ve been to some surreal food events since I came to London. I’ve been forced into radioactive suits and made to race around rooms on all fours like a pony, eaten soups with eyes in and nitrogen frozen meringues that billow steam when chewed – all in the name of gastronomy. But a recent launch of beer brand Cubanisto really took the biscuit…except that there was certainly nothing so mundane as tea and biscuits there.
We were guided to a secret location in East London by UV skulls spray-painted along the pavement and admitted into a long corridor filled with smoke. After creeping tentatively down the corridor we met with a row of statue-still men in white suits who sprung to life and instructed us in robotic voices to ‘fill out a confession slip for entry, Sir or Madam’. After scribing down our dirtiest secrets we exchanged these with more robot actors for a jigsaw puzzle piece and were ushered alone through a secret door in a filing cabinet into another long dark corridor (are you sensing a theme here?).
At the end of this corridor a tall dark figure emerged and handed us a mask, breathing ‘be who you want to be’. When he turned me down yet another corridor, I was beginning to have concerns. Where was I? Was this some sort of weird sex party? Who did I need to sue? At the end of this corridor I reached a tiny waist high door which opened, finally, into a huge party….and no, not a sex party- a really cool warehouse party with DJs, a bar, live UV graffiti artists and crowds of people. 
What an event: unlimited Cubanisto, photographers, awesome music and some very special live acts. At one point they had the most incredible beat boxer I’ve ever heard perform dressed like something out of the Matrix, followed by a surprise set by world famous DJ Groove Armada! Far from it being all too-cool-for-school, they made sure people mingled by challenging you to find others with matching jigsaw pieces. Once found you exchanged these for keys which opened secret boxes containing exciting prizes (I won a grilled cheese sandwich – for me it doesn’t really get any better than that).

Thus Cubanisto was launched. It’s a rum flavoured beer, so I think they wanted to do something a bit wilder to introduce it to the market and compete with the other notoriously crazy rum marketing campaigns out there. I think it will probably be successful. Taste-wise it’s pretty good – a light mix of treacly rum, citrus highs and toasted oats in the beer. All too drinkable really and you can’t fault the marketing. They’re repeating these secret launch parties all over the UK’s major cities over 2014 and you can’t help but feel we’re looking at the new upper-class Desperado.