Alcotraz: a Bar Where The Clink Isn’t Just the Sound of Cocktail Glasses

Review of: Alcotraz (Bar)

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On January 29, 2018
Last modified:February 18, 2020


Alcotraz, a bar that’s based on Alcatraz Prison and where you’re put in real cells and wear prison-issue orange jumpsuits. Why put yourself through that and face the stern-eyed scrutiny of the tough-looking American warden and prison guard? Well Alcotraz Bar on Brick Lane will answer this question in one wild and weird immersive experience but you must be prepared to leave all your home comforts at the door for a couple of hours of fun.

It quite literally starts at the door. If you’re already used to burly bouncers blocking club entry you’ll be partly prepared for the uniformed prison guard doing much of the same but this time blocking exit! He speaks in a menacing Southern drawl warning you that the tux, high heels or Gucci gear won’t be seen over the prison-issue jumpsuit that you’re all ordered to wear. That at least solves the problem of agonizing over your wardrobe before a night on the town. Also be prepared to leave your name at the door as well because once you enter you are referred to by your prison number. If you forget those digits when asked then suffer the consequences.

It’s two to a poky cell. Each has one of those grim-looking prison loos but the warden warns you not to attempt a cheeky dump. The real loos are out the back and don’t look much better but unlike these are not just there for show. Drinks and refreshments? A cup of water is all you’re given at first, just to whet your appetite; and this is where it gets all nervy because the idea is to smuggle your own bottle of liquor past the guards and get it to the prison barman. Either that, or drink that mean-spirited cup of water all night. Sneaking drinks past the guards is relatively easy, though.

 A cheeky top up with smuggled drinks when the guard isn’t looking.

If successful you get hooch and moonshine cocktails served in cups made out of food tin cans just like those in The Clink. Excellent cocktails, by the way. But beware! The warden paces up and down nosing through your cell to check whether you’ve brought any booze of your own. If you do break any infringements then it’s the punishment block for you. Fat or fit, you’re going to be doing press-ups and other not too demanding exercises. Break any major rules and it’s a spell in The Hole for you. However, while in isolation you’ll realize it’s not all bad and perhaps not so isolated.

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About the author /

Eddie Saint-Jean

Eddie Saint-Jean is an arts reviewer with a background in art theory, film and theatre.

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