Preview: London Cocktail Week

It’s that time of year again, from October 6 to 12 central London will be awash with cocktail creativity. Holly Motion takes a look at what’s on the menu 

For seven days, 250 London bars open their doors and serve hordes of wristband-wearing cocktail aficionados. 

In its fifth year, London Cocktail Week shows no signs of slowing down as more events are added for both the trade and consumers. 

Top industry names will be leading seminars throughout this more trade-focused festival. A big draw, Drinks International’s The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony generates a huge buzz throughout the week as the winners are announced on Thursday October 9. For the first time, The World’s 50 Best Bars is straddling both education and events as editor Hamish Smith calls on a panel of Academy members to discuss what it takes to earn the 50 Best Bars honour. 

The event is divided into three hubs – Ketel One Hub in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, Tanqueray No. Ten in Spitalfileds and The Cointreau Hub At Bluebird in Chelsea.

Pop-ups are a bigger feature than ever this year, with eleven present in Seven Dials alone. Ketel One, Monkey’s Shoulder and Zacapa are just some of the names making their presence felt at this end of town. 

London Cocktail Week festival director, Siobhan Payne, says: “The growth has been organic, the more interest we get the more people come. The non-organic change is the trade-focus. 

“We have spent the last five years focusing on consumers and now it is time to give back to the trade.”

To achieve this goal 20 trade-only seminars have been planned. “For the first time, we have the Bartenders’ Centre offering back-to-back seminars over the course of the week. The proceeds from these will be donated to The Bartender’s Best Scholarship Trust,” Payne adds. 

At £10 a session, there are four seminars a day to chose from. 

In the countdown to Christmas, drink historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown share their favourite sharing and gifting recipes on Friday at 16.30. They will be offering festive delights from Negroni jellies and hunting flasks to fruit butter and the perfect gin accompaniment – ginger nuts. 

Once again, Bacardi seminars are a feature of the week. Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands’ Training Hub in the Heart of Seven Dials will offer back-to-back training sessions for all their brands.  

At time of publication, brands and bars are still trying to get their name on the ever-growing list. Payne says: “Every year we have to turn people away, but this year we have turned away more people.”

If you aren’t armed with a preview on the day, more hubs than before will be dotted around London manned by London Cocktail Week staff to guide guests and hand out wristbands. 

Unsurprisingly, Shoreditch is not shy of activity during the week. Tanqueray, Jamie Oliver, Jose Cuervo, Don Julio, Angostura and Tia Maria all chose to house pop-ups in the Shoreditch/Hoxton area. Shoreditch will also play host to the most London Cocktail Week bars discounting drinks, 45 – at last count – will fling open their doors to offer 
£4 cocktails.