Guard: “Lady, what are you trying to do? GET INTO THAT JUMPSUIT!”
Me [wearing an awfully impractical tight pink dress]: “Sorry sir, just trying not show too much here!”
My friend Mariola, who knows my pole dancer Insta feed all too well: “That is the first time I’ve ever heard here say that.”
No, this is not a weird fashion bootcamp. This was me failing at life and at picking a suitable outfit to wear at Alcotraz, London’s first prison cocktail bar in the heart of Brick Lane, conveniently placed right in front of Beigel Bake in case you need to soak up your hangover with a salt beef bagel.
I first found out about Alcotraz by receiving a press release/summon to the court to pay for my sins on a Tuesday night and decided I was in for a bit of a mid-week debauchery because well… as a criminology student this will HOPEFULLY be my only chance to “take the orange” and live the Litchfield life for a night.
Upon our arrival, a friendly guard managed to smuggle a bottle of gin in a box with a towel and a toothbrush for me and Mariola to share (we didn’t have to stay overnight luckily), and then led us to our booth/cell complete with toilets as a seat. Then Mr. Morgan Freeman (“Free Man”, as the inmates call him) gave us a spiel about fearing God and not misbehaving. Fancy, uh?
From memory, the place used to be a café but has been now completely transformed. To order, you have to call bartenders through a glass like prison family visits. If you misbehave, you’ll be thrown in “the hole”. In short, Alcotraz is prison life made hip.
Launched on 28th September, Alcotraz is an experiential drinking pop-up created by Sam Shearman, founder of Inventive Productions, and taking place behind unassuming shutters of 212 Brick Lane. Inspired by (you guessed it) Alcatraz, the space can accommodate 30 inmates at a time and serves cocktails made with liquor that you smuggle past the guards.
All inmates will have to wear a flattering orange jumpsuit which are incredibly handy if, like me, you tend to spill drinks on yourself. If you manage though, DO NOT spill the drinks because they are awesome. We started with a mini Bellini and then moved onto a concoction of gin and passion fruit that tasted fresh and somehow light enough not to get to Caro2sips’ head.
The launch party was a night of shenanigans, with many opportunities to take dubious behind bars and handcuffed shots seized by many a blogger, wonderful drinks and a pop up and vibe recreated to perfection. I would have loved to take part in more immersive activities, but maybe I’m too much of a good girl to be thrown in the hole.
Some might have to object about the concept and the issues connected to crime, prisons and the like it seems to make fun of. However, if you consider London’s vast array of blitz, prohibition, murder parties, you might as well not go out if slightly left-field themes upset you. I’m a criminology student, fully aware of issues within the criminal justice system and can say that Alcotraz was as politically correct and light-hearted as a bar should be.
You have time until 17th December to book a night at Alcotraz, which is open Thursday to Saturday from 5 to 11pm. The £30 booking fee includes four cocktails from your brought drink of choice and 1.45 hours in prison.
Pictures: Matt Martin for Kapranos PR and Carolina Are