Top 10 unmissable events at London Cocktail WeekBy Amy Hopkins
Cocktail enthusiasts will be treated to a week of mixing master classes, discount drinks and vintage bus tours when London Cocktail Week (LCW) returns for its fourth year.
The popular event, a celebration of the city’s growing cocktail culture, will take place from 7-13 October and will be based once again around Seven Dials in Covent Garden.
Those who purchase wristbands for the event will have the opportunity to enjoy discounted cocktails at over 100 bars across the city and travel between venues on vintage routemaster buses.
LCW launched in 2010 and was initially marketed solely as a trade show, but organisers found that there was a growing demand for a mass consumer cocktail event, prompting them to expand their target audience. As a result, the event is now open for everyone from the cocktail novice to the mixology connoisseur.
However, the event continues to attract many experienced representatives of the on-trade industry, with a plethora of events catering to the interests of bartenders. This year, organisers have announced a packed programme exclusive to the on-trade – allowing bartenders to build their knowledge and have a little fun along the way.
From ice carving to cocktail ageing, here are our top 10 unmissable events at London Cocktail Week.
The Whisky Exchange (TWE) Show
Featuring a number of exciting masterclasses from established brands including Auchentoshan and William Grant & Sons, as well as sampling stands for more than 80 whisky brands, the event will allow members of the on-trade to cultivate their whisky knowledge.
There will also be live distilling demonstrations from The Balvenie, food and whisky pairing masterclasses by Martine Nouet, as well as jazz and whisky combinations at the Jazz FM stand.
The event will take place on Monday 7 October at Vinopolis, No.1 Bank End from 12-6pm.
The Art of Maturation
Famed bartenders Alex Kratena (pictured) and Simone Caporale, of Artesian Bar, at The Langham Hotel, will be joined by American whiskey ambassador Tom Vernon and Bacardi Brown Forman training team’s Joey Medrington to help shed some light on the issue.
The group will discuss the myriad maturation techniques – from leather bags to oak barrels and glass bottles – and cocktail ingredients.
The exclusive trade seminar will take place on Monday 7 October from 2-3pm at the BBFB pop-up, 69 Neal Street.
Opening Night Knees Up
With a live band band, DJs, and copious amounts of gin, it is advisable that early seminars are not booked for the following morning – and make sure you get in early as space will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
The Opening Night Knees Up will take place on Monday 7 October from 9.30pm-2am at The Seven Dials Club, 42 Earlham Street.
Me and My Botanical
Specifically designed to engage industry professionals, the event will feature speeches from each master distiller looking at either a single botanical that is special to them, or individual gin styles.
Speakers include Desmond Payne, of Beefeater; Tom Nicol, of Tanqueray; Nik Fordham, of Bombay Sapphire; Peter McKay, of Alcohols Limited; and Charles Maxwell, of Thames Distillers.
Me and My Botanical will take place on Tuesday 8 October from 1.30-3.30 at the Screening Room in the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza.
East v. West Bartending
This intriguing masterclass and tasting event will be run by Tree Mao, one of China’s top bartenders and one of the key pioneers of a Chinese style of bartending that combines both Japanese and Western techniques.
The first part of the masterclass will centre on how to make clear ice and how to cut it for different purposes, looking at important tools and techniques. Tree will prepare four example cocktails that demonstrate how ice influences drinks, while visitors have the opportunity to attempt ice-ball carving.
The second part of the seminar will involve a discussion of Chinese spirits and cocktail ingredients and different ways of using varieties of Chinese tea.
East v. West Bartending will take place on Tuesday 8 October from 2.30-4pm at The Hide Bar, 39-45 Bermondsey Street.
The Art of Hospitality
Looking specifically at how service is delivered at The Ritz, The Art of Hospitality will also feature serves using Woodford Reserve.
The seminar will take place on Wednesday 9 October from 2-3pm at the BBFB pop-up, 69 Neal Street.
A bartender’s lounge will be set up in the Kettle One hub for bartenders and brands to network, as well as a shop selling the equipment necessary to make the staple cocktails of the event.
This exclusive trade seminar will be led by Tristan Stephenson, co-founder of Fluid Movement and Claire Smith, head of spirit creation and mixology for Belvedere Vodka, who will offer their perspectives on what exactly constitutes a simple serve.
The pair will explore the dichotomies of complexity and simplicity, and look at how to “turn simple ideas into complex concepts”.
The seminar will take place on Friday 11 October from 2-3pm at the Belvedere Martini Bar, 38 Earlham Street.
At this pop-up seminar, mixology mavericks Ryan Chetiyawardana (formerly of Bramble, in Edinburgh, and 69 Colebrook Row, Purl, and Worship Street Whistling Shop, in London) and Iain Griffiths (formerly of Bramble, in Edinburgh, and Eau de Vie, in Sydney) will go head-to-head as they deliver scientific papers on new cocktail creations.
Biochemist Steve Pearce and Hendrick’s Ambassador Duncan McRae will be on-hand to help decipher their inebriating equations and engage visitors in bartending geekery.
The event will take place on Friday 11 October under the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge pop-up from 2.30-3.30pm at 33 Fitzroy Square.
Chemistry of Cocktails
Former President of the British Society of Flavorists, Pearce is one of Europe’s most acclaimed thought leaders in food science, with a portfolio of unique creations.
The seminar will take place on Friday 11 October under the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge from 7-8.30pm at 33 Fitzroy Square.