Close Menu

London Cocktail Week 2013

The London Cocktail Week has just closed its fourth year and it couldn’t have been more exciting (and busy).

Carrying on the from last years Ketel One cocktail week hub as well as a second Don Julio hub in Shoreditch, made it much more accessible. With a whole host of events to enjoy including meeting distillers from some of the best spirit brands around, to a whole host of chances to try things I’d never imagined and all night parties.

Its certainly gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2010 with a more significant variety of experiences on offer. Hannah, Siobhan and Sophie from LCW made this a wonderful year.

Click through the following pages for London Cocktail Week highlights.

Lunch and Blending competition with David Morrison

On Thursday I was lucky enough to sit down with 16 other press types for lunch with Appleton Estate’s Senior Blender David Morrison – I had the good fortune of sitting next to the man himself who was just a really nice guy. We talked a lot – he laughed. After lunch we got a surprise – he led us through a tasting of aged and un-aged, pot and column still rum. The final twist was being given 4 bottles of un-blended rum from white to dark and were asked to blend our own for a cocktail mixing rum. Out of 16 I came third, which for me was as good as winning – the weakness of mine was it was too much of a sipping style.

Bloody Mary Garden/Kettle One Spice Market

A centre piece of sorts for LCW – The Bloody Mary Garden from the immeasurable talent at Twist London with a great selection of twists on the Bloody Mary. It was also home to the Ketel One Spice Market on Thursday – a chance to select your ingredients from an array of over 60 spices, herbs and hot things; oh and grasshoppers. Mine was a sumptuous mix of Bay, Rosemary, lemon salt, paprika, lashings of tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and topped with Golden Isle yellow tomato juice. It had an odd browny colour to it, but tasted utterly fantastic with a real bang – A Brown Bang Mary.

BBFB talks

One of the best parts of LCW was not drinking (much) but learning. With a variety of talks such as ‘A World without Vodka’ from Leanne Davidson and a guide through the ‘Rise of US of Whiskey’ with Tom Vernon. The icing on the cake was a talk and Q&A with former Bacardi Maximo Distiller Don Jose Sanchez – ending with a tasting of the 150th Anniversary Decanter – by the family, for the family and retails at £2000. Mind altering.

Belvedere Martini Bar

For the simple tastes in life there’s always a martini. This year in the heart of seven dials Belvedere dropped in with their pop-up martini bar with a fantastic array of martini options and some fantastic masterclasses from Claire Smith and Ali Dedianko. Now while I’m a hardcore sipping vodka drinker, I never really enjoyed Belvedere but I tried their Belvedere Unfiltered (100% Rye) both straight and in an Unfiltered Martini there – mixed with Lillet Blanc and garnished with cucumber. It’s certainly changed my opinion of the brand and I want more.

Whisky Show

What better way to start the cocktail week, than a stiff Whisky at The Whisky Show. With a fantastical array for worldwide Whisky it was taxing, from tasting a variety of very familiar products to some pretty pricey Johnny Walker Odyssey marking the travel of JW round Europe. One of my favourite was a Tasmanian Whisky ‘Helleyers Road’ rested in Pinot Noir casks for a full, deep flavour with amazing hints of nuts and honey among others.

Rum Fest

How do you end cocktail week you ask? The answer is simple – Rum Fest. With a whole host of rum brands showing off what try have to offer plus the Brugal rum shack manned by my friend Vil, Plantation rum’s tiki shack with Paul McFayden thumping to the tunes and a talk from the aforementioned David Morrison made it a great day. The trade only Boutique rum fest even featured a chance to try Ian Burell’s Gannibal Vodka thanks to Interscope productions, who provided the Gannibal bottle design and branding for the Rum Experience. The Golden Rum barrel award followed that evening sponsored by Havana Club and Don-Q, with winners such as Lorena Vásquez Ampié from Ron Zacapa in the Rum Hall of Fame and Destilerias Unidas S.A (Diplomatico) as Rum Distillery of the year

Johnnie Walker and the Chocolate Factory

With the creation of Callooh Callay’s Candy Shop pop-up with edible menus, came the Whisky and chocolate pairing session ‘Johnnie Walker and the Chocolate Factory’ taken by the great Colin Dunn. He led us through Black, Platinum and Gold Reserve labels with a wonderful chocolate match for each. At the end we were presented with flip cocktail that unfortunately wasn’t up my street (I prefer spirit heavy drinks or sours), but still an excellent evening. No lickable wallpaper though……

Don Julio Market Bar

Everyone has been into a bar and picked out a few quirk and interesting spirits for a unique drink. Well this pop-up at Archer street was a bit more fun. Turn up and examine the weird and wonderful jams, fruits, shrubs etc. and select two ingredients for your Margarita – with the winner’s drink staying on the menu. Mine included Bad Mama chilli and garlic hot sauce with coco nibs.

Ron Botran: Guatemalan Rum EU definition

As many of you know the EU has legal definitions of many products such as gin having to be juniper dominant. Well during this years cocktail week the Ron Botran family visited the UK to announce and celebrate that Guatemalan rum now has a legal definition on its production, within Europe. Aged Daiquiri’s and neat Solera Botran were the drinks to celebrate this absolute landmark; and celebrating it with the family made that evening.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No