The term mixology may be something of a scientific sounding scuttle for some, but for those that consider their homemade bitters and booze a stellar investment, there's yet another bar in London racking up respect for their lean, mean cocktail making machines. And by those, we do mean bartenders.
Tucked between a set of seemingly bog standard shops, who's to know that this little nugget even exists? Making our way through a door that might as well be the one to my lil' flat, a set of concrete stairs descends into something that would make John Gilbert weak at the knees. An intimate single room boasting lush, low lighting and a flurry of vintage card tables, the charm of BYOC Camden is in its insistent, speakeasy simplicity. Textures that lend themselves the 1920's and 30's, all set alongside period inspired furniture, BYOC Camden is already looking like the cat's meow of cocktail bars in London.
Gimme that giggle water. But first, let's talk concept. It's incredibly simple, like rocking up to a house party with a cheeky brown bagged bottle in tow, BYOC Camden merely ask you to do the same. Lugging in with any bottle of spirit that you please, BYOC Camden ask for but one thing, £25 for a sweet two hours of your time.
C'mon then, let's talk the hard stuff. BYOC Camden's popularity lies in its lack of menu, so with nothing but our bottle in tow, we had no idea what drinks would come of the next two hours. That's the magic of it. While a tart Clover Club licked our lips with its egg white, gin and lemon juice, the rest of our cocktails were left up to our bartenders bitter nuzzling noggin. From blush raspberry treats to hard knockin' ginger numbers, BYOC Camden's bartenders know the science and sensuality of cocktails. My favourite of the bunch? A concoction consisting of lemon marmalade, cardamom, fig and jasmine bitters, vodka, rosemary and a brown sugar rim: passive yet somewhat patriotic, there was a festive note to this tipple that had me reeling with 'alrighty then'.
While my casual shirt and skirt didn't necessarily lend itself to the amorous atmosphere that BYOC Camden boasts, it's not all Greta Garbo and Coco Chanel in this hooch loving destination. Tucked between two girls nights out, a fancy dress party and a boozin' couple, the venues markedly insistent speakeasy theme didn't seem to tear people back to the 1920's, it merely gave us all a taste of what a good ol' fashioned juice joint would brag.
A gaggle of bartenders sweep about the room, but it was nice to find that our table boasted its very own dedicated drinks wheeler dealer, as do all the rest. While our dapper bartender Marco dished out tales of Italy and the traditional Martinet, we supped away in happy gabble of jokes and 'oh holy heck, have you tried this one yet?!'.
London's bootleggers and ruffians best leave well alone; from their bonny potions and brazen bitters, down to their brace clad bartenders and smoky charm, BYOC Camden leave happy hours and heaving entry queues behind for utmost Speakeasy style integrity. And golly, aren't we the better for it. While many may shiver at the £25 entry fee, for all things considered, BYOC Camden's BYOB stance and style make up for the swift departure of petty cash.