You've finally recovered from an indulgent summer and your mates have wrapped up the dryathalon. Phew. Just in time for the date marked in every cocktail lover's diary — London Cocktail Week 2016, running from 3-9 October.
As with previous years, anyone wanting to take advantage of the offers, masterclasses, parties and heavily discounted £5 tinctures can purchase a £10 wristband before playing in the wonderground of drinking dens in this great city, embarking on their own personally planned tour.
Got your wristband?
The London Cocktail Week Village
A fever of fizz and frolics descends on Old Spitalfields Market, transforming it into an imbiber's paradise. Buzzing with over 40 bespoke pop-up bars, trucks, vans — and even the odd bicycle or two — get your paws on some beautifully crafted boozy creations made especially for the festival.
While you're there be sure to hop aboard the vintage train on a jaunt into the artistry of the G&T, courtesy of Cahoots. Serving up Bombay Sapphire based cocktails, inspired by Enid Blyton's Famous Five, passengers will be surrounded by the natural beauty of Laverstoke in rural Hampshire — home to the headlining gin's distillery.
Feeling Peckish but loving the sauce? We'd suggest refuelling at seafood specialist's Wright Brothers for some tempura shrimps and a modern take on the gin and tonic. With the terrace transformed into The Fentimans Apothecary, patrons can also opt for a mixology masterclass.
World Class House
A fully immersive and luxurious look into the future of liquid elixirs, the World Class House is an interactive, multi-story pop-up situated in Piccadilly Circus and an absolute must. Throwing one of the biggest parties the Big Smoke has ever seen on a nightly basis, expect workshops, classes and classic cocktails expertly executed by some of the world's best bars with a cheeky twist. See you in there.
As usual, there is an overwhelming amount of stuff going on — even for the most experienced among us (and we include ourselves in that bracket). Here's just a small sample of events we highly suggest you check out, right after stocking up on hangover cures like Ohayo (which actually works).
The Brass & Crimson
Get ready for the weekend with this celebration of jazz and the aesthetic of 1960s New York with a complimentary Drambuie drink on arrival. Book yourself into a masterclass or simply enjoy a mighty fine line up of acts including Brazilian jazz-funk trio Azymuth, Brooklyn based music-maker Taylor McFerrin, and singer/songwriter Jamie Woon. Taking place at Hoxton Hall, entry is free but pre-registering is advised.
Callooh Callay Host the Clumsies
With a well-earned reputation for knocking up the best concoctions in Greece, the Clumsies team from Athens will be taking up residency in Callooh Callay, a multi-award winning destination bar sitting on Rivington Street. Instead of doling out for an airfare to the Med, go catch the guys in action in the latter half of the week with their own specially designed menu.
Classics with Classics: Pairing Cocktails and Trainers
No, this doesn't mean drinking out of your own shoe (although we've seen some crazy things over the past few years) but an innovate series of talks and masterclasses from industry experts, covering everything from high-tops to highballs. Craft French vodka Sauvelle has buddied up with the footwear-obsessed duo at The Drop Date, presenting an exhibition of ground-breaking kicks and a hidden bar full of bloody marys, espresso martinis and cosmos.
Sailor Jerry Rum Tattoo Shop
All predicable comments about getting inked while tanked and sarcastic eye-rolling aside, fans of vintage skin art can get a free (yes, free) tat, choosing from a selection of original designs by Sailor Jerry AKA trailblazing tattoo artist Norman Collins. As one would expect, the parlour won't be awash in a river of free-flowing rum, instead modest slushy samples will be on hand, with post-wrapped patrons heading to the London Cocktail Club Shoreditch for a zingy ginger pina colada and irresistible offers.
Ladies & Gents Boat Party
North London favourite Ladies and Gents celebrates the opening of its second venue in King's Cross during the week. The canal-side haunt boasts its own party boat (PARTY. BOAT.) With a timetable of cruises at £15 and a max capacity of 12, it's perfect for grabbing a bunch of your friends/that person you really fancy/colleagues you can just about tolerate for a night of tipples in a unique setting.
As an extra special treat, Monday night will see the Casita crew at the helm. Fans of the legendary bar which closed its doors last month (*sob*) should get a round of their famous con verdita in while they have the chance. Keen tequila geeks can knock off work early (you know you want to) and join an exclusive tasting of Maestro Dobel Humito — the world's first smoked silver tequila — from 4pm.
Just try not to fall in, OK chaps?
The Blend by Chivas Regal
Studious scotch sippers can get hands on with a blending masterclass at The Truman Brewery, taking their taste buds on a hike through the Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside and Islay, sampling grain whisky and single malts along the way. Guided by a whisky expert, each person will get the opportunity to make their own bespoke dram to take home.
Want more? Drake & Morgan Group's The Drift, based in the city, presents their #LoveScotch pop-up, where each day the focus shifts onto a different blend, featuring the likes of Cardhu and Haig Club Clubman.
London's original chauffeur-driven 'posh bar crawl' for aficionados of mother's ruin. This festive edition sees plenty of surprises, including a pit-stop at the Spitalfields hub and the introduction of Citadelle gin — unique for its naked flame copper still distillation process — in an end-of-night tipple at Calooh Callay. We've been before and thought it was ace, so if you've always flirted with the idea of levelling up on your knowledge to 'gin boss' heights - now is the perfect time.
The Hidden Depths of Cognac
Michelle Brachet, the UK's leading female Cognac expert, talks about cognac as a cocktail ingredient and expands on the concept of food pairing. With fare from Jason Atherton's Social Wine & Tapas and a range of award winning cognac, the £65 a head event is spendy but totally worth it for budding, boozy gastronomes.
Making the Cut: How to Place in the World's 50 Best Bars
Ever wanted to know what it takes to run one of the best bars in the world? Here is your chance to find out in a panel discussion at Oriole in Smithfields. Chaired by Hamish Smith, editor of 50 Best Bars, owners of globally feted bars including Nightjar, Happiness Forgets and Callooh Callay will be bestowing their invaluable industry insights.
Bulldog Brompton Bike Polo
Win your weight in gin and tonic by getting on your bike and battling it out in teams of three. Brilliant. If you're not up for polo-inspired warfare, Bulldog will also be at the Boundary all week, making the popular Redchurch Street rooftop bar their base of operations.
Beefeater Distillery Tour
Discover the rich and deeply rooted history of Beefeater gin, which still hand-crafted in their Kennington distillery. Explore Victorian pot stills, rub shoulders with fresh ingredients and sip on the end product itself.
Welcome to the New Malt Order
Everyone loves the photobooth and tinctures combo. Throw in maverick 'distilled different’ whisky Auchentoshan, and you're onto a winner. Promising to provide the ultimate 'photo op' memento, happy snappers will be transported to the urban streets of Glasgow, where the 'city malt' is distilled with moving images. We'd advice you not to go in tipsy though.
The Future Forest
Given the current trend for foraging ingredients, Tanqueray No. 10 presents a carefully curated 'forest' packed with unusual and lesser known botanicals, at World Class House. Participants are invited to leisurely pick whichever herbs take their fancy, creating their very own one-off cocktail. Tanq 10 is also the star of the show at a perfumed cocktail masterclass taking place at The Savoy — the event is already sold out, but keep an eye on the website for any returns from ridiculously hungover people shunning the hair of the dog.
London Cocktail Week takes place across London 3-9 October.