Last night, we were invited to the launch of Brighton’s newest immersive cocktail experience, Alcotraz, which will be opening its doors to the public this Friday. Following the success of its venues in London, Inventive Productions decided to bring their BYO speakeasy prison bar to the south coast and, after a thrilling experience last night, we can safely say that Brightonians should be very excited!
At Alcotraz, you’re thrown into the action straight away. We were greeted at the door by the stern-faced Guard Wilson, who filled us in on our mission. In a thick 1920s-New York-gangster style accent, he informed us that the prison guards had started a bootlegging operation, and that it was our job as inmates to smuggle in liquor. If we could get our spirit of choice in without arousing the suspicion of the Warden, the canteen workers would sneakily make us bespoke cocktails for the duration of our 2-hour sentence. “Backs against the wall!”, he shouted as we entered.
After being given our orange boiler-suits and ‘bible’ (liquor smuggling contraption), we were sent down to the cells. The attention to detail paid to the set is particularly impressive. In the corridor leading to the main room, signs informing us of prison rules regarding recreation and visits cover the walls. The main room is dimly lit with the prison canteen, secretly a bar, at the back. Around the edges of the room are barred cells, complete with ripped gangster film posters, cracks in the walls, a bench, stools and even a toilet (not for use!). It really does feel as though you’ve just stepped into a movie.
Just like Guard Wilson, the Warden is fantastic in character. He introduces himself solemnly as a “man of god” and is pleased to see us holding our bibles. We are directed to our cell and soon after are visited by one of the canteen workers who takes our alcohol away in a cooking pot.
Sometimes with immersive experiences, the standard of the drinks can suffer because of the priority given to other aspects of the experience. Fortunately for us, this is certainly not the case at Alcotraz. There is no menu here. Instead, the mixologists take the time to talk to you about your preferences and will tailor drinks specifically to your taste. We are served a number of top-class, prohibition era style cocktails, ranging from a modern take on a Bramble to a classic White Lady with gin and egg white. In a nice extra touch, each drink is accompanied by a bit of information about its history and an explanation of how the bartender has attempted to balance the flavours. Fittingly, each drink is served in a tin can or metal cup. “If the warden asks, just say its soup”, the bartender tells us, winking.
As the evening progresses, you really do feel yourself getting lost in the theatre of the experience, such is the standard of the acting and the venue’s attention to detail. There is plenty of interaction with the actors, thanks to planned sketches that take place at various points throughout the night. After our cell is searched by the warden for example, we are taken into a separate room and have our pictures taken in front of a height chart. “You get one phone call”, Guard Wilson tells us, deadly serious, and takes a picture of us using the prison style phones the venue has fixed to the wall.
After a few more drinks, our night ends with a real flourish. All of the actors come together in a big final sketch, in which the Warden dramatically revealed he had uncovered the Guards’ bootlegging secret. He confiscates their badges, and announces that he is “shutting this facility down”.
Overall, Alcotraz will be an excellent addition to Brighton’s nightlife scene, as it offers much-needed, fun alternative to your standard bar or nightclub. From the moment you walk in to the moment you leave, you feel fully immersed in the world of the classic American prison movie. Whether you go with a few friends or a larger group, Alcotraz guarantees you a night to remember, with plenty of fantastic photo opportunities! We would highly recommend giving it a go.
Experiences can be booked individually, or the venue offers private hire if you’re planning a party. The easiest way to book this experience is through Fizzbox, by clicking here. Fizzbox are all about making it easy to find and book great venues and activities for your events – whether that’s to celebrate a special occasion, treat someone special, or organise a particular team-building day. They put you in contact directly with the activity provider via a simple booking system, and have a wide range of amazing activities that you can easily browse through on their website.
Featured image: © Alcotraz via Fizzbox.