Sober October? Not a chance. London Cocktail Week returned for its seventh year from October 3-9, and it was better than ever. 200+ bars offered up £5 concoctions around the city; there were boozy events and popups at every turn; and Old Spitalfields Market was transformed into a magnificent cocktail village for the second year running. I managed to squeeze in a fair amount across five of the days, but I barely scratched the surface. Nevertheless, it reminded me that drinks industry folk are a wonderful bunch, and that London wouldn’t be the same without them. Read on to see what I managed to cover.
Tuesday – I kicked off my #LCW2016 a day late, and in fairly restrained fashion. My one and only cocktail stop that eve was a trip to the London EDITION Hotel to road test a new “In Room Serve” masterminded by Hendrick’s Gin and The Punch Room bar. I’ll be posting about this in more detail soon so stay tuned. The rest of the night was spent at a new wine bar called Traders in St.Katherine Docks. You can read more about that here.
Wednesday – Day 3 was all about the Spitalfields cocktail village. Aside from being one of the two “hubs” where you could pick up your wristband for the week (the other being in Soho), it was also a theme park for cocktail lovers with popup bars and booze stands as far as the eye could see. It was impossible to get round everything in one evening, so we focused in on a few spots. Belsazar Vermouth had a beautiful bar and the Bramble team from Edinburgh were down for the night with a bespoke Belsazar menu. Vintage Belsazar Rosé and Mondino Amaro all round.
Next door, Porters Gin had smartly teamed up with the award-winning Dandelyan and had a bunch of boozy botanical numbers on offer. We also somehow ended up playing “chicken bingo” with the Dewar’s Whisky guys at their super Scotch Egg Club whilst working our way through the excellent single malts range and some bottled concoctions. The evening ended, as it so often does in that part of town, with a trip to Hawksmoor Spitalfields for their Honey Melba LCW special.
Thursday – Still feeling strong, we started the night off with canal-side cocktails in King’s Cross. The lovely people from Ladies & Gentlemen in Kentish Town set up a pop-up bar that may well be a permanent fixture next year, and invited various friends to run the drinks each night. We were there for a few rounds of Quiquiriqui Mezcal hibiscus mules and grapefruit palomas that did a better job of warming us up than the roaring fire. Then it was all aboard the Ladies & Gents Vestal Voyages boat for some Few Bourbon Boulevardiers and Vestal Vodka Martinis.
There was still time to head East to the atmospheric basement spaces beneath the Shoreditch Town Hall which had been transformed into Hendrick’s Institute of Dreams – a particular highlight of the week. It was hard not to be sucked in by the immersive, multi-sensory experience backed up by great booze and witty hosts. Another quirky success for Hendrick’s Gin.
Friday – What better way to start the weekend than with a masterclass on the Martini with Martin Miller’s Gin at Opium in Chinatown? With dim sum on the side, we worked our way through a variety of serves, varying the temperature and the wetness (amount of vermouth) to find our own individual preferences.
Two hours later the night was still young, so we paid a visit to the multi-storey World Class House near Piccadilly Circus, settling down in the #LoveScotch lounge with Talisker Skye Old Fashioneds. Whilst there was a lot going on at the Soho hub, it couldn’t match the Spitalfields village for awe and atmosphere. Also, despite the earlier dim sum decadence, more food was required so we escaped to Little Pitt on Newburgh St – read more on that here.
Saturday – There was just enough time for a final lap of the Spitalfields hub at the weekend. We went straight to the Auchentoshan stand for some clever Auchentoshan & Ale creations, before closing our cocktail account at the Belsazar bar. Two drinks featuring Caffe Biscardi “Black Potion” Cold Brew were a perfect way to finish another excellent London Cocktail Week. Bring on LCW 2018!