It was just after payday and Brexit Day, plus Dry January was finally behind us, but even so, the staff at Joyce were surprised with it being so busy on a Tuesday night. But socio-economic factors aside, there’s nowhere as stylish to drink in Brockley – a bar with a living-room feel occupying a former funeral parlour. Launched by the owners of nearby Salthouse bottle shop, Joyce focuses on small producers – many of them local to the area – across 12 taps pouring natural wine and craft beer, plus a concise supporting cast of spirits from all over the UK. The line-up includes botanical spirit Escubac from Edinburgh, wine from East Sussex’s pioneering Tillingham vineyard and IPAs from Deptford’s Villages brewery. For snacking, it’s more basic – Wotsits, Mini Cheddars and Cheeselets – but you won’t hear me complaining.
By way of decoration there are just a couple of hard-to-decipher tapestries (a cute crab next to an egg and an archway?). Otherwise it’s just sandy-coloured stone, creaking floorboards and a fireplace with a ‘funeral’ sign on its mantelpiece. The focus of the room is definitely the bar: shiny white tiles backing the taps and making them pop. The staff manning them were easy to talk to and clued-up on their neighbourhood. And they even chucked in a free almost-glass of wine when supplies of a juicy chianti were too low to produce a full glass.
It was chilly enough on the night we visited to suggest the venue’s previous macabre incarnation. But otherwise, Joyce seems to be a lovely local full of delicious craft booze and – ironically – life.