Review – BYOC
BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) quietly slipped into Brighton’s bar scene last November and if the last few months has been anything like my visit, then it has been blowing all competition out of the water since then. Situated down a small side street in The Lanes, BYOC is hidden away behind a disused juice bar and only a lucky few know it’s there.
BYOC’s concept is a simple one: pay £10 for one hour, bring your own sealed alcohol and sit back as your bartender mixes bespoke cocktails in the beautiful speakeasy-style surroundings. As it’s so select, you need to book up a table in advance to avoid disappointment and they rarely take bookings straight off the street.
Once you ring the doorbell an immaculately dressed bartender will greet you and take you through to the rear of the building where the candlelit bar resides. I have to mention the décor of this place as it’s easily one of the best looking bars in Brighton.
Situated over 2 levels with moody lighting, BYOC reminds me of an upmarket Bee’s Mouth. The basement is split into two rooms: a bar area with tables and comfy leather sofas, then surprisingly and ingeniously, a small six-seater cinema. The upstairs could seat around 18 guests while downstairs could seat 15, the latter also being available for private functions.
Once seated our bartender was keen to see what spirits we had brought. We produced a large bottle of vodka, a small bottle of dark rum and the curve ball: a can of cider. Completely unfazed, our bartender got to work. Using an array of self-brewed concoctions, fresh fruit juices and various essences, he created our drinks.
First up was a light summery vodka based drink made with apple juice, lemon juice, summer loving shrub, egg white and a strawberry garnish. This was a perfect start to our evening, expertly mixed, deliciously light and strong. Each flavour really sung through and thanks to the egg white, had a real fluffiness to it.
BYOC brews and makes all the juices, mixers and potions fresh on site. The summer loving shrub (which was new to me with my limited cocktail making) is a strong mixer and just one of many that they make on site.
We chose to take our seats in the cosy alcove cinema, watching silent movies and listening to the old fashioned, soothing tunes from the gramophone. The next drink was vodka based and included yellow pepper juice, raspberry juice, pink peppercorn extract and fresh raspberry garnish. This was completely different to our first drink; the yellow pepper juice made it almost savoury and sour but the raspberry juice sweetly evened it out. A truly unique and clever mix of flavours.
Next came out a cider and rum based cocktail that included grains of paradise tincture, cacao tincture, nutmeg and apple slice garnish. Bringing the cider was more of joke piece which I felt slightly embarrassed about and didn’t really expect to made into a delicious autumnal cocktail. But I was exceptionally impressed when it came out. The cider had been flattened slightly so was very mellow, but lurking in the background was the heat of the rum and complexity of the tinctures. Never in a million years would I think Magners could be so delectable.
Again tinctures were a new one on me, they are typically an alcoholic extract of fruit, herbs, spices etc. These are made again on site and are used sparingly in the drinks but add a great depth of flavour.
Our last drink of the evening was a vodka one that included: basil, basil syrup, alfalfa tincture, apple juice, lemon juice, cucumber and lavender syrup. This summery concoction was dry and had all the good bits from a G&T, but was a lot more complex. The basil gave it that extra savoury note and the lemon gave it a sharp send-off.
BYOC was an absolute pleasure to visit from start to finish. There has been a lot of attention to detail and effort put into making this place work. Having lived in Brighton for 7 years, this is one of the most unique places I have visited and somewhere I will definitely go again.
If you want a more sophisticated night out drinking, then this place is for you with some of the most accommodating and knowledgable bar staff I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Words by Rob Ling
Photographs courtesy of BYOC
Rob Ling’s entry was courtesy of BYOC