Whether it be the mystery of what lies behind the facades or the exclusivity of being one of the few to be granted entry; speakeasies never fail to draw my intrigue. Some of my favourites being Happiness Forgets, The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town & 5cc. However, last week I was invited to sample a new one, that goes by the name of B.Y.O.C.
Any other night you would have thought it strange to find yourself entering a juice bar at 9:30pm but this is no ordinary juice bar! You see B.Y.O.C stands for Bring Your Own Cocktail and is cleverly hidden beneath (literally) the orange fronted “The Juice People”, in the middle of The West End. The slightly different twist, and might I add a genius one, is the way B.Y.O.C. conducts its business though. Cocktail lovers are invited to bring along their most loved spirits to the underground speakeasy, which are then transformed into delicious concoctions by professional mixologists who work with the customer’s favourite flavours and The Juice People’s freshly squeezed juices!
The shop is completely unassuming, the only sign that something else is going on behind the scenes was that the secret doorway was open when we arrived for customers leaving. When our table was ready, we left our coats upstairs and made our way through the door and down a tight and narrow winding staircase to the basement floor. We were met with an almost pitch-black scene of a small candle-lit room with five or six tables of punters, sipping on different concoctions, whilst soft jazz rang out from a gramophone. It was an intimate little space, with a mix of cosy pairings chinking glasses with a subtle “cheers” and larger groups chortling away in merriment. All conducted by one mixologist, tending to everybody’s needs.
It costs you £20 to get in and that covers you for the entire evening. Obviously you have to take your own alcohol with you though! I think for something special like this, you need to invest in an interesting bottle or two, just to set the night apart from others. This shouldn’t cost too much between two or more people and will definitely add that little extra touch to the evening! I had to chuckle when I explained this thought process to my drinking partners for the evening. They had notified me earlier in the week that they had half a bottle of Sainsbury’s vodka left over from the weekend and were bringing that! I insisted that WeTheFoodSnobs does things a little differently and that everything was sorted on that front!
I brought three delicious little bottles with me for us all to get amongst. Bulldog‘s London Dry Gin. Cremorne’s Gentleman Badger Sloe Gin and the one that I was particularly looking forward to was The King’s Ginger. Quite a trio!
We started with the Bulldog, one of my favourite gin brands, labelling itself as “Defiantly Different” and finished with it’s bulldog collared top, yet beneath the rough exterior, there is an extremely smooth and well-crafted gin.
Ian, our mixologist for the evening, was obviously extremely knowledgable. As soon as I had pulled out the three bottles, you could see his eyes light up and the light bulb click on, creating flavour pairings in his head already. He took the Bulldog, made note of our favourite flavours and then disappeared to set about constructing our first cocktail. When he returned it was with a giant silver teapot and chilled glasses, taking the time to pour for us too!
The guys here don’t work in measurements, they work only with taste, but luckily I managed to get the ingredients from Ian, so I could at least have a go and re-creating anything I really enjoyed. For our first cocktail he paired the Bulldog Gin with Lychee, Cucumber, Anise Syrup, Lime & Rose, which created an incredibly refreshing tipple and set the bar high for the remainder of the evening.
The stand out cocktail of the night though was created when Ian decided to experiment with the Gentleman Badger Sloe Gin and The King’s Ginger as a combination. The reason I decided to bring The King’s Ginger was to give the mixologist a little surprise. He said that no one had brought it in with them before but he was looking forward to using it and boy did he put it to good use! The final mix that he came up with was a delicious blend of Sloe Gin, King’s Ginger, Lemon, Vanilla Syrup & finished with a Sprig Of Rosemary. I could have drank these till the early hours, they were that good and a perfect way to incorporate the two distinctive flavours of the Sloe Gin and Ginger.
After such a great evening, I was not surprised to find that B.Y.O.C was actually booked up from Friday through the weekend for some weeks. You need to get your bookings in mid-week if you want a slice of the action sooner rather than later. It’s a great place for all occasions, whether it be an intimate date or an interesting retreat for friends to swap stories of their weeks as they knock back some delicious tipples. It’s definitely my new favourite bar of choice and I have even booked another sitting for this coming week! If your a cocktail fan and love a speakeasy, you MUST check this out!
We The Food Snobs x