Yes, London Cocktail Week is back and we’ve painstakingly sifted through all the events (maybe not while completely sober) to give you an overview of the fun.
The first most notable change from previous years is that the flagship hubs have moved from spilling over the crowed streets of Covent Garden’s Seven Dials, to the more spacious locale of Spitalfields, and the World Class London Cocktail Week hub set up in the buzzing centre of Soho.
The second is that the main focal point of the festivities is not so much as a wristband pick up, as it is a freaking booze-fuelled village, headlined by the SodaStream MIX Alchemy Lounge with the guys from White Lyan serving up some nostalgia (for those of us who remember the 80s) and there'll be all kinds of shenanigans on the Appleton Estate bus.
If you want some extended party time, the The House of Angostura is on hand complete with a kitchen space to hang out, where, although we can’t guarantee the hottie you have your eyes on won’t a) casually introduce you to their SO after roughly 40 minutes of redundant flirting or b) ditch you for a greasy kebab with their mates — you'll still have a damn good time with DJs and throwing shapes till the early hours.
The format remains the same — get your £10 wristband, grab your free map of drinking dens in the city and head for your nearest bar to sample a cocktail specially created for the event for £5, with a whopping 275 bars taking part. With venues all over the city, no matter where you hail from you’ll find somewhere to prop up. You can also check out the website for other offers and discounts for wristband wearers because who doesn't love being part of the party?
Hands down the most unmissable event of LCW '15, the ambitious 24 Hour Bar Build has already garnered ‘party of the year’ status, where four famously booze loving cities battle it out by actually building a bar. You can vote for London, or, you know, maybe even Paris, New York or Singapore if you really want to (it’s OK, we forgive you).
Expect a wealth of international bartending talent, with the likes of Nathan Shearer (Callooh Callay), Sly Augustin (Trailer Happiness) and Richard Woods (Duck and Waffle, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch) leading Team London in the hopes of winning the coveted title of World’s Best. To be fair, after losing the rugby and having our arses handed to us by the bloody Aussies, it would be quite nice to actually win something. Just for a change.
Whiskey. Lots, and lots of whiskey
As our thirst for whiskey gains momentum (yes, even more than it has been) 30% of all participating bars (you know, 275 of them) have submitted whiskey cocktails as their Signature Serve, so you don’t need to look far for your fix. The Nikka heavy Sakura, topped with plum soda at ROKA, looks particularly delicious.
If sneaking the odd dram doesn’t cut it, there are eight dedicated whiskey pop-up bars making their mark in Shoreditch. Our top pick is the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Empire, tucked away on the corner of Kingsland Road. This chill bourbon hangout is cramming masterclasses, some punchy tipples (naturally), blues and comedy evenings into its five day run. A must for Old Fashioned fans. We’ll be there sinking an Eagle Rare.
Other events include the Haig Club Dining Room, focusing on dinner party style, and whiskey-based Negronis (yes, these are a thing), Woodford Reserve The Art of the Old Fashioned, circus-themed tomfoolery from Monkey Shoulder Flying Circus who always smash it at LCW, and Chivas Regal Art of Blending.
Keeping it Stateside
Multiple award-winning bar Callooh Callay has never been one to be left in the shade, and their line-up this year is truly epic, hosting some of biggest names in the US including Dead Rabbit and Mother's Ruin. Be warned, you do need to book.
Immersive musical fun
If you want more of NYC in LDN, Drambuie will be celebrating its longstanding history with the 1960s New York bar scene. The Brass & Crimson can be found at the basement bar of SMITHS, Spitalfields, hosting masterclasses (courtesy of the much feted Employees Only), intimate music sessions with jazz legends and serving up the iconic rusty nail (ask your cool grandma).
If you can get through this week without brushing up against the ghastly demon of the night before, you’re either not human, some kind of demi-god with vodka for blood, or you’re just doing it wrong. With hangover aversion high on every discerning drinkers' list, Ohayo Tomorrow will be setting up shop in the village and providing much needed relief to revellers. We can attest it works, what with drinking being our 'research'.