A look ahead at some of the highlights of this year’s London Cocktail Week
Returning for its eighth outing, London Cocktail Week brings a packed programme of pop-up bars, special cocktail menus, masterclasses, tastings and other events across the capital from October 2 to 8. More than 250 bars are participating this year, offering specially created cocktails for £6 to festival pass holders, with a bustling hub of pop-ups in The Cocktail Village in Old Spitalfields Market. The wristbands and printed bar guide have gone, replaced by the free DrinkUp.London app, allowing you to get a personalised digital pass, costing £10.
Having attracted more than 25,000 visitors last year, London Cocktail Week offers plenty for bartenders and others in the trade, including the new industry-only pop-up bar and free seminar space The Bartender Edit near to The Cocktail Village. Run with BarLifeUK, the programme has been designed by a panel of industry professionals from across the UK. It is also helping bartenders from major cities to travel to London Cocktail Week, providing a social forum to find accommodation, guest shifts and tickets to events. Festival passes will be free for working bartenders, and entry to The Cocktail Village will be free during the daytime which is expected to be more trade-oriented.
Oriole in Smithfield will host the opening party in association with Diageo Reserve’s World Class. Other highlights over the week include the final of Funkin’s Innovation Champion at TT Liquor in Shoreditch on October 3, when bartenders will compete for a paid part-time role helping the cocktail ingredient specialist to stay on top of innovation. The winner’s drink will be served on the Funkin stand in The Cocktail Village.
New York City’s The Dead Rabbit will be popping up on October 4 at The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green, with its beverage director Jillian Vose joining for a guest shift, with a cocktail menu built around Slane Irish whiskey. At The Golden Pineapple in the Old Truman Brewery, the Hendrick’s Air Departure Lounge promises pre-flight “innovative therapies, treatments and polite diversions” throughout the daytime on October 7 and 8.
The upstairs of the Commercial Tavern in Spitalfields will be transformed with a carnival theme, including fairground-style games, as part of a bourbon takeover by Kentucky’s Heaven Hill distillery. Brand ambassador Bernie Lubbers, the “whiskey professor”, will present his show combining bourbon and bluegrass music from October 5 to 7. Operation Dagger in Singapore will be taking over Scout in Shoreditch, serving cocktails with Woodford Reserve whiskey and Bombay Sapphire gin. In Hoxton, Belvedere will present two new 100% rye vodkas as part of its pop-up The Single Estate Rooms on October 5 and 6, while The House of Peroni will return with Italian-style beer cocktails created by top bartenders at N&C Showrooms in Shoreditch.
At Blixen in Spitalfields, Our/London Vodka will offer a respite from the festival with free coffee, snacks and wifi access for the trade as well as a chance to try the brand’s new infusions. Also in Spitalfields, Ableforth’s Underground bar will present cocktails made with Ableforth’s range from Bathtub Gin to Rumbullion. In the basement of The Nelson’s Head in Shoreditch, Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths will appear with their anti-waste Trash Tiki “punk pop-up” bar.
Pop-ups at The Cocktail Village will include Monkey Shoulder whisky’s Block Party, combining whisky cocktails with music in a life-sized building block bar. Signature serve of the week will be the Lazy Old Fashioned – a pre-batched version of the classic made in the bottle. G’Vine Gin will be popping up on a new copper still bar on wheels, treating visitors to classics such as a Tom Collins as well as a Watermelon Martini served in mini watermelons.
Southern Comfort cocktails will be paired with freshly cooked buttermilk fried chicken at the Southern Quarter in The Cocktail Village, inspired by New Orleans’ French Quarter. Tito’s Handmade Vodka from Texas will pop up with a Mule cart, offering a Texan twist on the classic Mule cocktail, with funds raised going to the Guide Dogs Foundation.
Also in The Cocktail Village, Schweppes will be returning to serve up the “ultimate gin and tonic” and unveil some “exciting new news”, while somewhere else in central London, a secret pop-up will take visitors on a journey through Jacob Schweppe’s alchemy to reveal how history is shaping the future of Schweppes. Invitations will be available from the stand on day one at The Cocktail Village.
Another Cocktail Village destination will be a laid-back main bar, a more premium cocktail bar, a unique sensory room and a silent disco, all with Pepsi Max. The Max Lounge will also host the final of Britvic’s cocktail competition on October 6 where bartenders will compete for a trip to Ibiza Rocks.
Masterclasses will include Café Courvoisier at Joyeux Bordel in Shoreditch on October 3 and 5, looking at the pairing of cognac and coffee, with Courvoisier brand ambassador Rebecca Asseline and taste and aroma expert Ericka Duffy plus cocktails from Alfonso Califano and Simone De Luca from The Walrus Room in Battersea.
Buffalo Trace and Fratelli Branca will offer masterclasses at the Buffalo Empire which will pop up at The Looking Glass Cocktail Club in Shoreditch. VIP hosts for the classes will be Drew Mayville, Buffalo Trace master blender, and Nicola Olianas, world brand ambassador for Fratelli Branca, and visitors will also be able to taste the five-strong 2017 Buffalo Taste Antique Collection. Other classes will spotlight Buffalo Trace’s Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and the full range of premium brands from Fratelli Branca.
Details of all events are via the app or at drinkup.london.