Mana Bar: Gaming, Art, and Booze

Last night was the hugely anticipated opening of the Mana Bar in Brisbane.

I think both the greatest endorsement and the greatest advertisement for a venue is having a line up outside, and the Mana Bar’s line was indeed epic. I turned up about 3pm and it took about 2.5 hours to finally get in the door. From what I’ve heard, that was fairly average, though I can only imagine that some of the people who didn’t get in line until 8 or 9pm probably waited longer. If they got in the door at all. Pras was telling me a little before 10 that people in the line had been warned that they weren’t going to get into the Mana Bar (which closes at midnight), but they were sticking it out.

Keeping up the spirits of those waiting in line were some special guests:

I was handed a Gears of War lanyard by Leeloo; but I missed Little Sister, who was inside the venue by the time I got there. There was also a charming magician working the line. His routine took about 20 minutes, and was a massive amount of fun to watch. He had some delightful card tricks (the 9 of hearts one being especially charming, but I also loved the one where he used heat to bend a piece of wire into the shape of the figure 8 and a diamond – the card picked from the deck by a guy standing behind me), rope tricks, a rubix cube, and an awesome wallet that caught fire when opened.

It was a lot of fun playing “count the iPhone” and “spot the Mana Bar owner” (or as a boy ahead of me in the line said: Oh my God, is that Yahtzee? That’s Yahtzee, oh my God!). And I got a real kick out of watching people walking along the other side of the street wondering what in heaven’s name all those people were doing standing in that line over there (cause whatever it was, it must have been good, cause look at ’em all).

At one point, Yahtzee walked along the line, just taking a look at the people eager to get in the joint. He did a complete double take as he passed me wearing this shirt:

If you don’t understand what I’m getting it: Educate Youself

When I finally got in the joint, I admit I was a little bit speechless. For one, it’s beautiful. I mean, we knew that, but the blue lighting and the collectibles and the huge shiny TVs are gorgeous. In fact, let me spend a moment to mention just how gorgeous the TVs are. They are gorgeous! Gigantic, and the images were bright and crisp beyond all reason. Fantastic.

The Mana Bar also really comes into it’s own after dark as the venue is very softly lit, making the five 50-inch works of art attached to the walls behind 15mm perspex the center of attention.

I know that I, for one, underestimated just how small the venue would be when they said “it’s small, guys”. It’s not small, it’s a living room with bar tables. That being said, the venue is… what’s the word I’m looking for here? Cosy? Intimate? I hope you don’t have issue with personal space-ish? I really enjoyed it. Although the place was packed* (shoulder to shoulder), and the queue for the bar was sometimes half-way across the joint, I had no problems squeezing my way around, and everyone was super-courteous about the whole thing.

*Or as Pheobe, one of the bar staff, said to Noel and I: “human tetris”; shortly after which I noticed someone playing tetris, on his phone.

I had suspected that, not wanting to make a total fool of myself, that I would actually avoid playing any games, but that lasted about as long as my first drink. Yahtzee laid down the challenge that anyone who could beat him at Guitar Hero 5 would win a small prize pack.

He’s playing on expert, and he still beat his opponent.

Only two people managed to do so, but as Yahztee was quickly running out of contenders, he offered to up the stakes: he would play expert, but the challengers could play any difficulty they wished. I got slammed. In my defense: I couldn’t really hear the game (curse you, shoddy hearing!), but I was annihilated!

I would be remiss if I went this entire write up and didn’t mention the Mana Bar cocktail list. The list was displayed on the inside of a game disc case, and included five drinks: Princess Peach, Ocarina of Lime, Fire Breather, Mana Potion, and Angel Island. Not being a fan of peach, and rather hating ginger, I didn’t try the Princess Peach or Fire Breather. The other three cocktails were, however, awesome.

The Ocarina of Lime (pictured) was a light and slightly sour drink that I could happily drink over and over, the scent of mint about it made it very enjoyable. The Angel Island, being made on lemon, was notably sour (which is fine by me, I’m not into sweet drinks); but not so easy to drink as the more refreshing Ocarina of Lime. Though I did have fun sharing it around with some great people that I met who hadn’t had the chance to try it.

The Mana Bar’s signature drink is, obviously, the Mana Potion: a slightly frothy turquoise-blue concoction featuring vodka, blue curacao, and sparkling white wine. Another rather sour drink, but the addition of the sparkling wine made it a bit trippy – is it just me? Sparkling wines go straight to my head.

Everyone in the bar was ultra-friendly, and more than once I found myself chatting to random strangers while getting a drink. As I went up for my second Mana Potion, a guy asked me about the cocktails, he was on his first drink of the night, so I recommended the Mana Potion, and asked the bartender to make two. At that moment Yug appears behind the bar, and offers to help out. He’s coached through how to make a mana potion, so I got to enjoy a cocktail made my one of the owners!

Oh, and Jack Daniels slushies. Hell yeah.

Wii sports seemed fairly unpopular, though to some extend that may have been caused by the lack of room. I can only imagine how annoying it would be to try wii-bowl when there’s people standing all around you. Though the Raskulls game (featuring adorable characters, brilliant colours, and an extremelly straight-forward game concept) was the hero of the night, with no shortage of players.

I also got chatting to Pras about how well the night was going. Apart from the size of the venue, it really seems like everything come together perfectly, and I can fully understand how chuffed he, Yug, Yahtzee, and Shay must be about how the night went.

I’d like to say once more how great everyone was. I had a great time, and got to meet some pretty awesome people. Honestly, I do not think the night could have gone better.

It will probably take at least a few days, but keep a sharp eye on Twitter and Facebook for Mana Bar related posts. There should be a plethora of photos, vids, and kudos to be seen yet.


~ by ghostwolfe on March 21, 2010.

One Response to “Mana Bar: Gaming, Art, and Booze”

  1. Sounds like a good night, glad to hear it opened well. Can’t wait to see some more pics of what the place is like inside, in action.

    Sounds like not beating Yahtzee puts you squarely on the same skill level as everyone else there.

    Love the cocktails. Ocarina of Lime! I hope there were people spinning around, holding it above their head when they were served. And the Mana Potion sounds like just the cocktail I was fantasising over the other day (except tastier) – something to pinch a bunch of round bottom flasks for.

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