This is a sponsored article on behalf of Cocktails in the City.
Summertime is for good times, and good times don't get much better than a sunny, al fresco cocktail festival in a beautiful Bloomsbury garden. But Cocktails in the City isn't just any old cocktail festival – it is the cocktail festival.
For one July weekend, 25 of London's best bars come together for two sizzling days of summer sipping. Forget bar crawls, this is the cream of the capital's cocktail crop, all in one place. Team a cracking line-up of award-winning bars with a whole host of interactive experiences, Tasting Rooms and even some expert masterclasses, and you've got yourself one doozy of a boozy weekend.
But with London's finest mixologists all within sipping distance, how on earth will you decide who to try first? Here are a few tasty snifters to help you decide which drinks will be right up your alley...
The 'all-fun-and-games' drinker
If the idea of filling your face with first-rate cocktails already feels like a hole-in-one, just wait ’til you see what Swingers has in store. This is the crazy golf of the future, teaming colourful courses with amazing cocktails. And you won't have to schlep to either of their London venues, because they’re bringing all the fun right to Cocktails in the City. Grab a club and battle it out against your friends in a bunch of fun-filled challenges — gaining points, winning prizes and guzzling daiquiris as you go. Loser buys the next round?
The 'other-side-of-the-world' drinker
We hope you've packed your bags, Opium is ready to take you on a journey. Upping sticks from its usual residence in Chinatown, Opium cocktail parlour brings the best of 1920s Shanghai to Cocktails in the City. Expect exquisitely-made potions, each carrying flavours influenced by Chinese and south-east Asian culture. With bases ranging from much-loved Japanese whisky to the lesser-known Hong Kong Baijiu — plus garnishes like guava, ginger and cardamom — everything is carefully curated to make your mouth sing.
The 'flavour-punch' drinker
If you're in need of a mean margarita, look no further. Ella Canta is one classy joint and brews up all manner of decadent, Mexican drinks. Tequilas and Mezcal rule the roost here, so swing by their stand for classic cocktails served up with a twist. Not least because they deliver these bad boys in flower-adorned skull glasses — a nod to Day of the Dead celebrations. Spice up your slurping with Habanero Hellfire chilli or simmer back down with the addition of cooling aloe vera. These guys know how to pack a flavour punch.
The 'sip-back-in-time' drinker
Don't miss a rare daylight appearance from one of the capital's favourite underground drinking dens. Cahoots takes London's 1940s speakeasy scene, throws in a hearty measure of black market liquor and mixes it all together with a warming dose of nostalgia. For Cocktails in the City, they’ve teamed up with Tanqueray No. Ten gin to transport festival-goers to the good ol’ British seaside. In between shots at the coconut shy, you can sip on summery gin-spired cocktails laced with peach, watermelon and grapefruit sherbet. Don’t forget to fill your pockets with some pick’n’mix before you go. Pip pip!
The 'get-your-hands-dirty' drinker
What do a tiny basement bar in Bermondsey and a bourbon from Kentucky have in common? Answer: innovation. Nine Lives has teamed up with Bulleit Whiskey’s Frontier Works — a platform celebrating those who push boundaries — to showcase an ethos that's just as good as the cocktails. This neighbourhood favourite has a zero-waste policy — every ingredient maximised and an interior made largely from salvaged materials. So perhaps it’s no surprise that their Cocktails in the City pop-up lets you get creative. Sure, you can grab a kickass cocktail, but perhaps you’d also like to try playing the guitar? Fixing a bike? Creating a time travel device? Get stuck in and try something new.
The 'all-in-the-name-of-science' drinker
Goggles at the ready: The Alchemist is turning mixology molecular. If you want your Cocktails in the City jaunt to truly be an experience to remember, swing by The Alchemist's pop up bar and enter a world of weird science. There are all the tantalising tastes you expect from a top notch cocktail bar, but with the added whimsy of theatre. Colour-changing cocktails, smoking cocktails, bubbling cocktails — you name it, they've only gone and done it. Best of all, Cocktails in the City is a rare chance to chat to the makers, so those tricks of the trade will soon be yours.
The 'cool-as-ice' drinker
No sunshine slurping would be complete without an iced bevvy or two, and no one brings sunshine to their drinks quite like Laki Kane — a tiki-inspired bar in Angel. Especially for the festival, Laki Kane gives the humble slushy a serious makeover by creating three brand new Moet Champagne frozen cocktails. Stay tropical with pineapple, peach and nectar, or chill out with watermelon and honey elderflower. There's no need to miss out if you’ve reached your booze limit either. Just opt for the non-alcoholic version packed with coconut water, sugar cane, passion fruit and lime instead. Happy days.
Tempted? Of course you are. Check out Cocktails in the City at Bedford Square Gardens from 5-10pm on Friday 12 July and 12-5pm/5.30-10pm on Saturday 13 July. Tickets cost just £20, and include a free welcome cocktail of your choosing. Additional cocktails are £7.50.