Preview: London Cocktail Week 2023
London Cocktail Week is back, and as co-founders Siobhan Payne and Hannah Sharman-Cox tell us, there are lots of exciting new changes.
For its 14th annual celebration, London Cocktail Week (LCW) is shining a light on the city’s reputation as a global capital of cocktail culture, with the introduction of prestige events, and the return of its Curated Cocktail Tours.
Considered the world’s biggest cocktail festival, LCW returns on 12-22 October, and this year founders Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne are implementing a variety of changes aimed at giving new opportunities for both London venues and international bartenders visiting the English capital: “Every year we try to evolve the festival, but this year it truly feels like we’re taking London Cocktail Week to the next level as we have made a commitment to reinvest the funds generated by the festival back into the hospitality industry,” the dynamic duo explain.
Throughout the lifetime of the festival, the duo says LCW has been committed to injecting substantial revenue into the night-time economy through the sale of Signature Cocktails. More than £4 million (US$4.8m) has been run through the tills of its partner venues, with the bars always retaining 100% of the drinks revenue. This year, the organisers are taking it one step further, allowing participating bars the chance to sell festival wristbands to consumers, and retain the revenue in a bid to amplify their earnings.
Following a ‘tough’ year for the hospitality industry, with recruitment challenges, a cost-of-living crisis and numerous train strikes, Sharman-Cox and Payne say they hope that the changes they’ve made to LCW “will help to bolster and uplift the bars we’re working with,” and that they remain “committed to supporting the London hospitality industry in as many ways as we can for years to come”.
With hundreds of the capital’s best bars offering specially curated serves for the exclusive LCW rate of £8 in exchange for the flash of one of the festival’s £15 wristbands, cocktail lovers will once again be able to explore and experience the very best of London’s vibrant bar scene for the duration of the 11-day festival, aided by the printed London Cocktail Week Guidebook, which will be offered alongside the wristbands to help consumers plan and record their journey through the city’s best bars.
While last year’s popular Cocktail Villages won’t be making a reappearance, 2023 will see the introduction of the Connoisseur’s Collection, a programme of exclusive, reservation-only events taking place at a handful of London’s most prestigious bars, aimed at LCW’s “most discerning consumers”.
“The Connoisseur’s Collection has given us the opportunity to work with bars who can’t facilitate the £8 Cocktail Tour price point. It is important to us that we can work with these venues, in creating a true celebration of London’s cocktail culture.” Each experience will represent the pinnacle of cocktail service, with one-off tastings, unique cocktail flights and masterclasses led by world-leading, award-winning bartenders. The Connoisseur’s Collection offerings include a night of Martinis and caviar bumps at The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, or an evening of top-shelf whisky tasting at Sexy Fish.
Another new element for 2023 is the Bartender Knowledge Exchange, which Sharman-Cox and Payne say “presents an unparalleled educational prospect for both local and international bartenders within the global cocktail community”.
Focusing on experiential learning on-site at some of the London’s most celebrated bars, including The Connaught, Sexy Fish, Three Sheets, Swift and Satan’s Whiskers, opportunities will include back-of-house tours, exclusive tastings and talks, and a ‘Seat at the Bar’ – a bar seat at top-tier venues that is bookable exclusively for bartenders, to allow them to watch their peers at work.
Our LCW Highlights
The Great British Takeover Series
Where: Christina’s at The Mondrian, Shoreditch
When: 12-19 October, 6-9pm
For: Trade/ Consumer
Uniting some of the greatest bars from across the UK this London Cocktail Week are Christina’s at The Mondrian and The Ramsbury Estate, who, over the course of five nights, will be hosting five of Britain’s best bars for The Great British Takeover Series, each of which will be bringing a taste of home to London with the award-winning Ramsbury Single Estate Gin and Vodka. The bars taking the wheel to showcase their favourite local ingredients, flavours or producers include Edinburgh’s Hey Palu on 12 October, Manchester’s Speak in Code on 17 October, and Cardiff’s Lab22 on 18 October.
Angel’s Envy Presents: Louisville in London
Where: Gothic Bar, Kings Cross
When: 13 October, 6pm-1am
For: Trade/ Consumer
Located within the iconic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, the opulent new Gothic Bar has teamed up with Angel’s Envy and Louisville Tourism to transform the five-star hotel bar into an authentic Kentucky dive bar. Bringing you the tastes and sounds of all that’s great in Bourbon City, expect plenty of Angel’s Envy serves inspired by Louisville classics such as Juleps, Old Fashioneds and even a slushy Paper Plane. All to be enjoyed over some live bluegrass beats from 7pm, followed by a DJ into the early hours. Heads up: the first 20 folks through the door will receive an Angel’s Envy slushy on the house.
Vinyl and Cocktail Party
Where: Nipperkin Bar, Mayfair
When: 16 October, 8-12pm
This special event from Ardbeg and Nipperkin Bar is a must for anyone in the trade that is a fan of great music and even greater cocktails. Nipperkin, one of London’s most talked about new bars, is offering guests the opportunity to play their favourite vinyl on its in-house record player while kicking back with a delicious dram of Ardbeg or cocktail. Bring your favourite tunes, grab a drink, and dance the night away with pals in this chilled, speakeasy-style bar – a great way to catch up and unwind with fellow industry members as the festival nears the halfway mark.
Hennessy Eau-De-Vie Masterclass
Where: TT Liquor, Shoreditch
When: 17 October, 2pm and 4pm
Get ready to deep dive into the art of Cognac and discover the meticulous process that produces Hennessy’s exquisite eaux-de-vie. Learn about the steps that contribute to the creation of this exceptional spirit during this engaging masterclass with Hennessy’s global trade advocacy manager, Jordan Bushell. Whether you’re looking to brush up your Cognac knowledge, or are looking to get an insight into some of Hennessy’s rarer expressions, this masterclass is not to be missed. Those looking to carry on the party can join TT Liquor and Hennessy at an exclusive music night, with live DJs and a host of special Hennessy cocktails.
London Cocktail Week Closing Party
Where: Seed Library, Shoreditch
When: 22 October, 5-12pm
For: Trade/ Consumer
All good things must come to an end, but in true LCW style, this year’s festival will be closing with a banging party at one of east London’s best basement bars. Led by Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, Seed Library’s talented bartenders have created a list of Moët & Chandon cocktails which can be enjoyed with retro childhood snacks while dancing to the live DJ’s tunes. Special guests Yacht Club, the exclusive private members club, and Sweden’s Röda Huset will also be joining the party to bring an elegant twist to the line-up.