Back again for its seventh year, London Cocktail Week brings the best of the city’s drink scene to the forefront of your world for a full seven days. More than 200 bars are involved, offering drink specials, throwing crazy parties, and developing immersive experiences. And unlike some of the massive mud pits you may have slogged through this summer -- nearly all of which set you back close to a week’s paycheck -- the golden ticket to London Cocktail Week only costs a tenner, and will grant you access to all kinds of goodies, like £5 drinks, free entry to loads of special events, and discounted tasting sessions, among other adventures. To help you navigate the week’s insanity, we’ve put together a couple pointers... just remember to eat and drink water along the way and you’ll be totally fine.
This Enchanted Speakeasy Takes You Through a Revolving Door Back to the 19th Century
Taste the future of cocktails, created by the best in the business
The biggest bartender competition in the world has just wrapped up in Miami, and the winners are back to create a world of pure luxury at Diageo World Class House, a multi-storied playland featuring with many of the world’s best bartenders. These folks are focusing on upcoming trends. Start off at the ground floor retro and future bars, then keep heading up the levels and discover interactive activities that make you to rethink how we pick our poison.
Go under the gun
Sailor Jerry has a lot to be responsible for, the least of which might be your new tattoo that you can pick up for free at the London Cocktail Club Shoreditch both Friday and Saturday. Down some spiced rum, line yourself up for some ink, partake of the drink specials, and wake up feeling (and looking) like a champ.
Make whiskey, your way
The guys over at Chivas have been carefully blending Scotch whiskey for well over 200 years and for LCW, they’re going to show you the ropes. Learn from the masters what it takes to create an original and iconic blend by tasting the grains and malts from The Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, and Islay before mixing them up for a personally blended batch that’s all your own. Taking place all week, this is a ticketed event... but a total no brainer if you’re into whiskey.
Witness a gin-fueled bike polo
Because riding around on foldable Brompton Bikes, swinging mallets, and drinking copious amounts of Bulldog gin sounds like a recipe for good decisions, 16 teams will assemble from bars across the capitol to put pedal to the medal and see who can maneuver those two-wheelers to glory. Their course involves overcoming a series of increasingly difficult challenges... especially when the amount of gin is taken into account.
Cheer for ladies of Speed Rack
In partnership with the gals of Speed Rack (an all-lady speed bartending competition which raises money for breast cancer awareness), toast surviving London’s booziest week with the fastest ladies on these shores. Featuring one of the best views of the Thames, the Rumpus Room will be host to all three of the past UK Speed Rack winners, with £5 cocktails and all proceeds going to their partner charity, Haven.
Find your scent at The Savoy
One of London’s most iconic hotels is pairing up with Tanqueray No. Ten to demonstrate how our olfactory system plays into our drinking decisions. Discover the close link between fragrance and taste, and how the world of perfume has snuck into our drinking culture without our even knowing it. This free session includes three cocktails especially created for the event, and some up close and personal time with one of the top luxury perfumers in the world.
Check out the 40+ bars in the Village
Taking over most of Old Spitalfields Market, they’ll round up over 40 pop-up bars from the normal “walk up and get a drink” type to the retro camper van where you might have to play ring toss just to gain entry. This is the center of everything LCW, where the biggest names in the booze business come out to play, and every drink only costs a fiver. Last year a special bar from the Mr Lyan crew (White Lyan & Dandelyan) showcased breakthrough carbonation technology... so be prepared to see some epic unveils.
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Haley Forest is a food and drinks writer who simply does not miss London Cocktail Week. Follow her (mis)adventures @HCForest.