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.  

A sign of its popularity, Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris will make the trip to the UK for the first time in seven years to attend the event. Morris will join UK brand ambassador Tom Vernon to take part in trade events, tasting and seminars. Nidal Ramini, head of advocacy at Brown-Forman says: “Having the master of bourbon here to talk about the brand he lives and breathes will help generate appreciation for the category.”

The masterclass schedule kicks off on Monday with the Vestal Voyages  (World’s First Floating Distillery). Aboard this floating pop-up bar and distillery, Mr VV invites cocktail lovers to take an evening canal ride in a 50ft classic cruiser stern Liverpool canal boat. Setting sail from Kings Cross, The Vestal Voyages emerges in Islington after an hour-long Vestal Vintage Collection sipping experience. On Tuesday, The Ketel One & Sonic at the Studio is appealing to the senses as soundscape masterclasses take visitors on a “sensory experience through the liquid to send you to a heightened taste and sonic”. Suitably satisfied, the audience will then learn how to make two Ketel One cocktails.  

For trade-only events and white writstband wearers, Monin has teamed up with Jet Chill – the first dry ice drinks system – in its new Monin studio, London to showcase how the latest Jet Chill system operates in a three hour-long Monin & Jet Chill- Smoking Cocktails masterclass. Jet Chill directors Colin Myers and Robert Flunder will talk through the machines cocktail capabilities with James Coston, Monin UK brand ambassador. 

RumFest returns for its fifth consecutive year. The Boutique RumFest in association with Cork Supply Company will celebrate newly-emerged distilleries and offer a platform for them to showcase their products with a whole host of independent rum brands, importers and distilleries. Rum forums will be held for the first time with topics such as So, You Want to Import a Rum Brand? led by The Cocktail Lovers and What Makes a Rum Premium? hosted by Smuggler’s Cove-owner Martin Cate. 

Lucas Bols global brand ambassador John Clay will take centre stage and explore the evolution of menus and drinks presentation at I Want One of Those on Tuesday at Bartenders’ Centre.  

Michael Vachon of Maverick Drinks will explore the way bars can support growth and development with their portfolio of brands in How Much Can You Support? on Friday. The same day, Zdenek Kastanek will discuss the impact living within different cultures can have on the adult mind, character and general views of life in Nomadic Bartender. 

What Does it Take to Be One of The World’s 50 Best Bars is a newcomer. The seminar on Tuesday is chaired by The World’s 50 Best Bars editor, Hamish Smith and will discuss the skill, creativity and professionalism required to reach the top 50. 

A Short History of Long Drinks and How They Changed the World takes place on Tuesday. The seminar will cover how the first cure for malaria turned into one of the most celebrated cocktails, the G&T, to the lesser-known origins of the Cuba Libre. Moscow’s role in popularising vodka in the US and the birth of Mamie Taylor are also hot topics at the debate led by Fever-Tree’s Craig Harper – as he takes time away from the G&T safari – and special guests at 16:30-17:30. 

The Monin Cup UK Final takes place on the same day at the Monin Studio, 6 Hoxton Square. In its third year, the ten finalists will compete for a place in the international final taking place on  December 1 in Paris. 

On Wednesday, Portobello Road Gin’s Jake F Burger will reflect on the life and career of Alexis Benoit Soyer at Alexis Benoit Soyer – The Forgotten Hero of British Cocktails at The Bartenders’ Centre in Seven Dials. 

William Grants & Sons newly acquired Drambuie is present at London Cocktail Week in the form of Drambuie Presents the Extraordinary Punch Parlour. The session in the reincarnation of a 19th century London private club is led by Drambuie brand ambassador Herman Van Broekhuizen on Thursday. 

If you are interested in becoming a record breaker, head to London’s Ilec Conference Centre, Earls Court on Friday for The World’s Largest Rum Tasting. Global rum ambassador Ian Burrell is inviting rum fans to get their names in the record books while being treated to a tasting experience with Appleton’s Jamaican-style rum master blender Joy Spence, Pusser’s Rum head of rum procurement George Freegard and Angostura master distiller John Georges. 

Finish off the week at Bottomless Tipsy Tea at Mr Foggs, Bruton Lane for afternoon tea with a difference. Here you will find a selection of sandwiches, pastries and delicacies finished with cocktails served in a teapot will be available on Sunday as a selection of Tipsy Teas is laid on. Earl Grey infused Tanqueray and No. Ten steeped in a teapot with Cointreau are among the many on offer. 

For other events taking place visit:

Highlights of the week


12:00- 18:00 Vestal Voyages (World’s First Floating Distillery), King’s Cross. Public.

15:00- 16:00 The Last Great Malts, by Bacardi, at The Bacardi Brown-Forman Cocktail Lounge, Seven Dials. Trade.

12:00- 17:30 The Whisky Show: Trade & Press Day, Vinopolis, London. Trade

19:00- 22:00 Fever-Tree’s Ultimate G&T Safari, Meeting point: Piccadilly. Masterclass.



13:10- 14:30 What Does it Take to Be One of The World’s 50 Best Bars, Seven Dials. Trade.

14:00- 18:00 Monin Cup Final, Shoreditch. Trade.

15:00 I Want One of Those, Seven Dials. Trade.

16:30-17:30 A Short History of Long Drinks and How They Changed the World, Seven Dials. Trade.


16:00-17:30: Alexis Benoit Soyer – The forgotten Hero of British Cocktails, Seven Dials. Trade.


15:00- 16:00 From Cane to Cocktail, Shoreditch. Trade.

15:45-16:30 Drambuie Presents the Extraordinary Punch Parlour. Masterclass.

16:00-17:00 The Untameable Spirit: How to Create a Cocktail Enthusiast’s Dream Destination Many Miles from Home with Zdenek Kastanek, The Bacardi Brown-Forman Cocktail Lounge, London. Trade.

18:00-12:00 Nola Vs Nola: A Battle for Gin Supremacy, Nola. Public.

19:00- 23:00 The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards, Spitalfields. Events.


15:00-21:00 Boutique Rumfest, London’s Ilec Conference Centre, Earl’s Court. Trade.

11:00- 15:00 Monin & Jet Chill- Smoking Cocktails, Monin Studio. Trade.

16:30 Slow Drinks, Autumn Edition: Ramping-Up For the Holidays, Seven Dials. Trade.


15:00-16:00 Nectar and Nous, Shoreditch. Masterclass.

20:00-21:00 East London Liquor Company LCW Special Night Time Distillery Tour. Public.


14:00- 18:00 Bottomless Tipsy Tea at Mr. Foggs. Public.

20:00- 01:00 The Reveal – A Night of Baska Snaps, Nola. Trade.

20:00-21:00 East London Liquor Company LCW Special Night Time Distillery Tour. Public.