I was incredibly disappointed with BYOC - Bring Your Own Cocktail - for letting me down.
41 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB
Writing for a newspaper, managing a website, working for a major retailer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and - perhaps, most importantly - allowing time to relax means that you have to be acutely organised and slightly precious about how you spend your time, ensuring that all these attributes to life get catered for accordingly.
This is why, on the November 1, I was incredibly disappointed with BYOC - Bring Your Own Cocktail - for letting me down.
Having been contacted by BYOC’s PR company asking for a review for the Brighton and Hove Independent, I pencilled them in for a post-Sober-October alcohol-fuelled treat.
I’d heard positive things about BYOC: you can bring your own booze and watch experienced barmen pour you a range of cocktails while you revel in the quirky, vintage decor. We were very excited to be attending what has been labelled one of the best cocktail bars in the city.
Making the booking for four people, word got out this is where we would be spending our Saturday night and two friends visiting from London asked to join in the alcoholic festivities as paying guests. Could the booking be expanded to six? No problem, said BYOC. Except upon arrival, we were down as a table for two. And with a venue as tiny as this, there was no room for moving to another table; they were already full or expecting other pre-booked customers.
Squeezing inside, we gathered round and waited for the receptionist to assess the error. We weren’t offered any additional seats, nor were our coats taken. Standing awkwardly in a bar as big as your living room isn’t very cosy or welcoming. We were made to feel copiously unwanted by a barman who stood over those of us lucky enough to find a seat, glaring down as though we were wasting his time by not being ready to pour drinks. It was with this kind of attitude where BYOC began to unravel.
It was now 9.20pm, 20 minutes into our booking. The receptionist - gosh, I did feel sorry for her - tried her very best to accommodate the six of us: "We can put you here until 10pm and then move you onto a different table".
It was great that she attempted to fit us in. We agreed, desperate to relax, to take our coats off and enjoy the evening. Before any of these things could happen, our two London guests were fleeced of their £20 - the fee you pay for two hours of a bartender’s time - feeling slightly baffled that they were paying for two hours when we had already wasted 20 minutes.
It was now 9.30pm. And we sat, packed in like sardines onto a table for two. And we waited, eyeing our £70-worth of pre-brought alcohol sitting unopened on the tiny table and watching an incredibly self-assured barman entertain other guests who were all having a great time.
We patiently waited until 9.45pm, then left. Refund duly obtained, a range of excuses and apologies were thrown around. "We don’t deal with that PR company anymore."‘; "We want you to have the real BYOC experience"; and "Give us a call and come back another time".
Sorry, but I wouldn’t revisit a fantastic restaurant the following week to see whether it was actually really bad. Surely that defeats the whole point of inviting press and writing a review?
Some readers may think this is too harsh, but in the busy world of life, there isn’t much room for second chances, especially when you have a deadline and a newspaper schedule to keep to.
BYOC failed to impress due to inexcusably poor communication between their PR company and their business. Further to this, the rude attitude of the bartender dealing with our table was unnecessary. We left very disappointed and upset. Off we trundled into the night, clutching our bottles of gin, rum and vodka ready to place back in the drinks cabinet for another evening.