London Cocktail Week starts next Monday 7 October. Booze jockeys get creative for fleeting pop-ups and events that show off the best in bar-tending talent. Expect tastings, masterclasses and food pairings galore. We even have our own Londonist cocktails in celebration*! While we’re still sober, here’s our guide to the festivities.
If you’re planning on
getting drunk exploring bars, you’ll need a wristband. This starts you on your own Cocktail Tour, where you can purchase limited edition cocktails for the bargain price of £4 at many of London’s best venues, and it also gets you discounts, freebies and entry into most other festival events – so do your research! Once again Seven Dials serves as the central hub (with a sister site in Shoreditch) and it’s the central wristband pick-up point with many booze-based goings on in the local area.
What to do
The week is packed with too many events to mention. One of the main highlights of this year is Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge, a self-contained festival set within the walls of the gorgeous 33 Fitzroy Square. You can rock up to the Parlour Bar, or book optional events such as Sunday lunch in 2063 (£20), a lecture and dining experience that considers sustainability, or The Chemistry of Cocktails (£12), exploring the science of flavours. Alternatively, you might opt for the delightfully macabre series of free talks including Death Masks and Meet the Undertaker which asks ‘is it possible to be buried in central London?’.
If you’re a sophisticated martini-sipper who wants to recreate Mad Men-style glamour at home, we suggest you try out the Belvedere Martini Bar, a journey through the history of the iconic and fashionable ‘tini with the Know Your Martini hour-long masterclass (£20). For something really hands-on, you can also pop by the Monkey Shoulder DIY Drinks Drop In, where the emphasis is on getting stuck in, mixing up your own tipples and inevitably spitting them out because (you were warned) your Baileys-based Bloody Mary idea was bloody awful.
Where to drink
Just want to sit back and sip? Then pay a visit to Candy Store, where boundary-pushers Callooh Callay have gone all-out in their sweet-edged pop-up, which boasts whiskey- and candy-infused treats, adding a nostalgic twist to an event that is strictly for grown ups. With edible menus thrown into the mix, this is one of the most adventurous offerings from the chameleonic Upstairs bar.
If you’re down Mayfair way, however, pop into Tea with Phileas Fogg (£10) at, well, Mr Fogg's which is offering an insight into Victorian cocktail culture, with Belvedere, rose liqueur and Moet, and 10 cane rum tea served from samovar with sandwiches and cakes — great if you’re looking for some stomach lining. Speaking of which …
Where to soak up the alcohol
If you like it gin-heavy, G & Teatime (£25) with Gin Dollies, will be held at the Rivington Grill in Shoreditch with a Tanqueray Number Ten masterclass in the midst of a bunting-clad, teapot-laden afternoon tea. Meanwhile, over at the Crazy Bear in Covent Garden, bright-eyed new (premium) kid on the scene Q Vodka Pop UP (£35/£45) will host a vodka and sushi pairing.
Wait, what? Still want more?
October sees some other exciting stuff going on in the spirit world (heh).
For a one-off evening towards the end of the month, after your body has worked through those daiquiris, head down to Green vs Blue at London Cocktail Club (Oxford Circus) on the 27 October for a ‘Cocktail disco-off’ bar-tending competition, to prove which colouring is king.
If you crave pop-ups, Talented Mr Fox passes though the bar at Michelin-starred One Leicester Street, complementing its already top cocktail list with some home-infused additions – think pistachio, corn and pineapple.
And finally there’s Rumfest, strategically placed at the tail end of the week (12-13 October) which, packed with tastings, cocktails and demos, is basically like London Cocktail Week. But at the ExCeL. and with RUM.
We’re off to stock up on Alka-Seltzer
*Want to drink Londonist? Simon Difford of Difford's Guide has created this London-inspired cocktail especially for us (pictured). Gin was an obvious base, but the delicate English floral flavours complement the gin. Plus, we love martinis.
In a cocktail tin stir over lots of ice:
35 ml London Dry Gin,
5 ml Rose & raspberry cordial
20 ml Lemon juice
10 ml sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
Strain into a martini glass and add about 20 ml English sparkling wine.
Give it a stir and garnish with a pink rose petal.
Alternatively, The Londonist cocktail is available at The Gilbert Scott, The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.