Alcotraz, the controversial prison-themed bar, is coming to Covent Garden

Guests don orange jumpsuits and drink behind bars

Updated on 23 September 2019 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Alcotraz, the controversial prison-themed bar, is coming to Covent Garden

Alcotraz, a prison-themed bar which debuted in Brick Lane in 2017, is returning to London with a three-month pop up in the West End.

A spin-off of the original concept, Alcotraz Penitentiary: Cell Block Six Eight, will find its home in Covent Garden, and the bar will open its doors on 4 October 2019, sticking around for three months.

The Alcotraz experience takes place in a basement space which acts as a prison speakeasy. The BYOB immersive experience will see guests have to smuggle the alcohol they have bought with them past the prison staff, before enjoying cocktails inside a bar lined with prison cells.

Guests, or inmates, at Alcotraz are required to wear the bright orange jumpsuits that are typically used in US prisons. The adventure begins when the inmates have to sneak past the prison warden and his fleet of guards, in order to find the notorious bootlegging gang in the cells. The gang will then take the alcohol you’ve brought to the venue and mix up to four rounds of personalised cocktails for you.  

According to the Alcotraz website, the immersive experience is “inspired by Hollywood Film and TV that have brought to life popular prison stories”. However, the pop up has faced its fair share of criticism, with prisoner rehabilitation charity Clean Sheet labelling the original Brick Lane concept as “utterly tone deaf”.

It seems the owners of the pop up have made some effort to respond to the backlash though, by working with the charity Switchback, which helps young Londoners to find a way out of the justice system and gain employment. The pop up will be donating a percentage of all its ticket sales to the charity.   

If you like keeping up to date with all of the latest food and drink experiences in the capital, check out our regularly updated London pop ups page.