In Brighton’s South Lanes is a cocktail bar with a slightly unusual concept. At BYOC each member of your pre-booked party brings a bottle of spirits of their choice for the expert mixologists to work their magic on, and mix into a cocktail for your party to enjoy. The venue doesn’t have a license to sell alcohol and so they only house non-alcoholic mixers, herbs and juices. An entrance fee is to be paid by each member of your party and you can remain at your table for two hours.
When I first heard about the concept I admit, I was sceptical, to provide your own alcohol and pay for the privilege of drinking it seemed like a cheeky notion but having heard good things from other people, I was keen to give it a go.
Visited: July 2016
A guaranteed table for a large group of people on a Saturday night
The expertly-crafted drinks
It’s a novel concept that brings a sense of fun to a night out
The bar area itself was lovely but the building that you walk through to get there is somewhat of a dumping ground
The toilet doors don’t shut let alone lock
We arrived early on a Saturday evening as a group of seven, we’d each brought with us a different bottle of spirits from Pimms, to spiced rum and everything in between.
After paying our entrance fee we walked up the stairs to the bar through a room piled high with tables, chairs and general junk, which gave an immediate sense of foreboding. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we got to the bar area. A snooker-tabled themed bar surrounded by plush seating and tables and the staff that greeted us were attentive, and knowledgeable.
There was just one other party and with two bartenders we pretty much had our own private mixologist making us delicious cocktails for two hours!
We were started with a safe Pimms and lemonade and was only about halfway down before the next drink appeared. An amaretto-based fruity drink garnished with a blackberry and some orange, which was a personal favourite of mine. Next followed a gin-based cocktail laced with lavender.
Inevitably everyone has different taste preferences. The bar tender paused to ask us which of the flavours we had like best and did well to cater for all of our personal requirements, leaving out the egg white for our vegan friend and tailoring the cocktails to our individual tastes.
There followed a mixture of sweet and sour drinks, we had maybe six or seven cocktails over the course of the evening, all beautifully presented. We certainly couldn’t keep up with the mixologist and each of us had at least two drinks on the go at any one time. We had leftover drinks when our time was up and were shown to a table downstairs where we could remain to finish them at our leisure and were given the remaining of our bottles of spirits to take away with us.
I think with a curtain drawn across the storage areas and some properly fitting toilet doors the whole evening could be one that leaves a decadent sense of style but these two things did let it down somewhat. Having said that, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, although I’m not sure it is one we’d revisit again and again.
If you don’t mind paying the entrance cost and bringing your own alcohol, this is a fun and unusual experience from which you will struggle to leave sober.
Overall verdict and rating: 7/10
Cost of drinks: Free once you’ve bought a bottle of spirits and paid your £25 entrance fee.
41 Meeting House Lane,
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