You know me, I love a cocktail (or several) – from the taste, to the skills of the barmen, to the showmanship and the atmosphere that comes with a good quality cocktail bar. So when it came to celebrating my graduation, I booked my friends and I into a reasonably new concept bar in Covent Garden that sees a mixologists skills put to the test. BYOC – Bring Your Own Cocktail!
For an evening of drinking with a difference, this is without doubt one of the best places to visit.
This tiny basement bar, hidden underneath a juice shop in Covent Garden, is different from your usual cocktail bar, as they ask you to provide the alcohol! Seem a bit cheeky? Maybe, but it’s a chance to try something you wouldn’t get in any other bar in London. And don’t worry – they provide knowledge, the skills and the mixers which in turn makes for some delicious concoctions! For £20 per person, and the price of your chosen bottle of booze, you get as many cocktails as you can possibly drink within your allotted two hours.
Essentially, this is your chance to be able to try drinks that ordinarily you wouldn’t, so I would encourage you to really think about what bottle you take with you. No point taking a bottle of Gordon’s or Smirnoff – every cocktail bar uses those; the drinks are what you want to make them so I suggest you take something challenging, innovative, maybe something which will encourage the mixologist to really create something different! But if you want to play it safe, I suppose you should feel free to take a classic along, too.
We took a bottle of Thunder Toffee Vodka (an absolute favourite of mine!) a very large bottle of cheap gin, a bottle of good quality Tequila, several bottles of beer and a box of frozen Birdseye Fish Fingers. Needless to say the mixologist chose not to use the fish fingers (which we had tried to defrost over a candle to no avail, and added in ourselves later once we were quite pissed) but he did make great use of the Toffee Vodka and the Gin, creating a great selection of cocktails for us, including a gin concoction much like a gin cooler with cucumber and mint, a toffee vodka martini, and another drink that contained raspberries…
Unfortunately by the 4th or 5th drink my sobriety had well and truly departed the basement and was now skipping its way down Longacre (or was that actually me after we left?!) and that is why I am afraid I can’t give you many more details on the drinks we received. But as each drink is dependent of what bottle you take along, I would imagine what we tried were somewhat unique. It worked out that 6 drinks cost us about £35 per person (including the cover charge, give or take) which I think you’ll agree isn’t bad going, as it’s the novelty of the bar that adds something quite special to the experience.
Booking is essential. I booked three months in advance, and my graduation date happened to be the first date they could actually fit a group of 6. And when they say maximum booking of 6, they really mean it. There is absolutely no room to squeeze in an extra person. There’s hardly enough room to even swing a cat! The only way to have a larger group booking would be to book a few tables, but remember, there’s only one guy making the cocktails, so the more people there are, the less drinks are going to be made within your two hour slot.