Like London’s Big Ben or Sydney's Bondi Beach, Alcatraz is the place for tourists in San Francisco. Although when I visited the West Coast a few years ago, walking in the footsteps of infamous prisoners like Al Capone was far from my to-do list. But, when us Brits take that jailbird escapade to Brighton and transform it into an immersive experience complete with cocktails and orange jumpsuits? I’m in.
Notorious for its longstanding stint in Shoreditch (and a recent opening in Manchester), Alcotraz invites you to get locked up, smuggle in your favourite liquor and outsmart the warden, all while bartenders shake up cocktails with your spirit of choice. So, that’s exactly what I did on a Wednesday evening, taking a bunch of my fellow DesignMyNight inmates along for the ride.
Before arrival at the seafront plot, we were sent a letter from the warden with instructions to register our gang and find out about our time behind bars. Taking on the persona of Bandanna A, I was ready to serve my sentence. Joined by fellow, bootleggers, thieves and fraudsters, we were led inside the penitentiary and changed straight into our overalls.
Heading underground to our cell, we joined a horde of other inmates; from couples and friends to after-work drinkers. Nobody's safe. Not quite our usual team night out, the evening started with banter from cheeky guards, introduced us to the scary warden and had us getting those all-important mugshots in a holding room.
Among all the ruckus, of course, was a stream of drinks deliveries. Sneaking in some gin and vodka, we were plied with clandestine cocktails created by the resident inmate bartender and served in tins using all sorts of liqueurs, bitters, mixers and syrups. I'm innocent after all, the least I deserved was a drink.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Without giving too much away, the team at Alcotraz showed us one hell of a time. From witty guards to endless cocktails and the warden who genuinely terrified me, the whole thing is quite the experience. The clink never looked so good.
💰 The damage: tickets start from £29.99 per person.
📍 The location: off Brighton's seafront.
👌 Perfect for: a cocktail experience to remember.
⭐ Need to know: get your story straight, the warden ain't messing about.