Owner Bryan Davis is possibly revolutionizing the industry with his patented invention called an Actinic Reactor, which dramatically speeds up the barrel aging process
Lost Spirits, the latest new attraction at Area 15, has been described as an adult Disneyland if Willy Wonka and Jules Verne had designed it (think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). In addition to being an entertainment experience, the venue is actually a working distillery, but more on that later.
About Owner Bryan Davis
Lost Spirits is owned by Bryan Davis and his partner Joanne Haruta and their original dreamlike experience first opened in Los Angeles in 2016. The California COVID shutdown prompted them to accelerate the building of a second location in Las Vegas, which opened in July, 2021.
40-year-old Bryan Davis designed both Lost Spirits experiences with the Vegas one being completely different from the L.A. version but “the same aesthetic dream world wandering like two dreams in the same universe.” His art background is evident as well as his appreciation of Victorian literature and the type of booze made during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Although you check in inside Area 15 just to the right of the front entrance, Lost Spirits is situated in a completely separate building near the south end of the parking lot.
Explore The Tour
Once inside, you are greeted with a pour of the distillery’s flagship Navy Style Rum, which will be the first of four Vegas exclusives, and the guide will fill you in on the history of rum.
As you move on and sip this 110-proof drink, you’ll meander through what looks like a centuries-old village during which you’ll be treated to circus troupe entertainment such as a balloon swallowing magician/comedian, an old-time burlesque show, a gyrating acrobat suspended by straps from the ceiling, a magician performing rope and disappearing egg tricks and a snake charmer (with real snakes!).
Along the way in the dimly lit spaces, you’ll discover five almost hidden tasting rooms including a chapel and one with animatronic birds with a sign proclaiming it the “4th Best Animation Bird Show” (ranked behind the Disney ones in Anaheim, Orlando and Paris). Inside each you’ll find more pours of rum and drinks such as the Cherry Bounce, a brandy liqueur derived from a recipe formulated by George Washington.
The Magic of Speed Aging
As for the spirits being made, Davis is possibly revolutionizing the industry with his patented invention of a device called an Actinic Reactor, which dramatically speeds up the barrel aging process reducing the process from several years to less than a week.
As Davis explains, “Actinic reactors of various types exist for various things. I happen to be the guy who figured out how to decompose wood with light to mimic the chemistry of a barrel for booze and then (with the help of a crack engineering team) designed gear to do it safely.”
He says his eureka moment was when “one day I noticed the deck at my home was falling apart and realized the sun was causing the decomposition of the wood.”
The Reactor, equipped with intense lights does just that to the spirit and wood staves and as Davis cleverly quips, “it takes six days and on the seventh I rest.” You can view the machine at work behind large glass windows during your tour, as well as several wood barrels filled with the spirits and the still (designed and built by Davis) where the initial distilling process begins.
A Submarine in the Desert
Your tour is incomplete without visiting the “submarine” lounge with steampunk vibes inspired by the 20,000 Leagues Nautilus. Here you’ll relax in comfortable, plush upholstered chairs while watching swaying candelabra and viewing through portals anthropomorphic human-faced fish swimming by as you sip on a 105-proof whiskey.
On your way out check out the dining room with long rustic wood table and candles, akin to a medieval king’s dining hall, which will soon be offering a 16-course feast paired with the unique drinks being made onsite.
What to Expect at Lost Spirits:
- As Davis is a hands-on owner and still serves as a tour guide from time to time, if you’re lucky he just might be your guide, as during my visit.
- Set aside at least two hours for your tour/tasting experience.
- You’ll probably want to purchase some of the award-winning booze to take home.
- You may want to return again and again as the current rendition has only scratched the surface of what the final product will become, with more elements being added in the coming weeks, months and years.
Lost Spirits is located inside of Area15 (3215 S. Rancho Drive). Visit www.lostspirits.net for more information.