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Thursday, 21 February 2013

BYOC, Covent Garden

It should, strictly speaking, be called BYOB. BYOC, U C,  is not licensed to sell booze, merely to mix cocktails for 'guests' who bring their own hooch and pay a £20 entry fee. Served in vintage stemware, cocktails are created by adding non-alcoholic ingredients and garnishes from a rickety drinks trolley. This squeaky vintage prop -  rescued from a 1950s Terence Rattigan play by the looks of it - is wheeled from end to end of the underground bunker by owner, dapper Dan Thomson. The manoeuvre takes all of two seconds. The premise at this nanoscale bar is not unlike the deal at London's supperclubs - only supper, at BYOC, is limited to charcuterie, cheese and fruit platter. The ambience is cosy, clubby and convivial and fellow guests are encouraged to pool alcoholic resources. This gives busy bee Thomson - or a capable stand-in when Dan's off tending bar at Milk and Honey -  scope to rustle up all manner of old- and new-fashioned honeyz. Secreted in the crepuscular cellar of a small juice bar, with its scratchy blues and my-man-done-me-wrong torch songs, BYOC feels closer to the real deal than any other London 'speakeasy' - with the exception of frisson-inducing genuinely underground enterprises I can't name here, lest I find a horse's head in my bed after the cops close them down on account of my indiscretion. Testimony to Danny boy's drinks, we extend our 2-hour table booking  to four. After the ninth variation on a classic Tanqueray 10 martini - the one that involved pepper, grapefruit bitters..... and Cillit Bang kitchen cleaner for all I care by this stage - the next drink I remember, is the following morning's emergency Berocca. Annihilation never felt so good. In fact, I plan to sit out Armageddon in this get-bombed shelter. Just me, Dan, the entire stock of Gerry's Soho liquor store,  and a dozen fellow cocktail-lovin' cockroaches.
28 Bedfordbury WC2 . No telephone. For reservations info, see www.byoc.co.uk/