It's that time of year again for Londoners to dust off their drinking boots and grab themselves a cheeky martini or to at London Cocktail Week (LCW). However, this year, due to the Coronavirus restrictions, things were a little different.
Firstly the week was extended to become a month (yipee). So, for the whole of October bars, hotels and pop-ups have been serving, shaking and pouring some of the most creative drinks in town. In addition, the giant cocktail village was been cancelled, so instead the organisers decided to make the whole city one big (socially distanced) party. They created a £15 festival pass which allows customers to access £6 cocktails at a massive range of bars across the city - for the whole month! This not only kept the festival on track, but also encouraged pass holders to visit and support struggling bars throughout the city.
So without further ado, here are some of the festival highlights, hottest flavours and tempting techniques on show at this years London Cocktail Week...Sorry, month.
Virtual reality was not just about bringing the bar to your home - other experiences sought to take you out of the pub, to heather blown moors and island escapes. The Oriole bar teamed up with Laphroig whisky to not only concoct an experiential cocktail complete with its very own smoke machine, but it also offered a VR experience, whisking you away to the Scottish island of Islay and giving you a tour of the distillery.
As always there were plenty of food and cocktail matches on offer - from all you can eat oysters matched with martinis to Mexican Mezcal brunches, complete with chilaquiles and a tasting flight of mezcal.
The Botanist's 'Itchycoo Sours' of rosehip, orchard fruit and zing matched with Craig Groziers heavily-peated Octomore sourdough, cultured butter smoked over juniper wood. Hacha Bar teamed up with Ilegal Mezcal to create a Mezcal Brunch featuring a marmalade breakfast martini, a Mezcal Bloody Mary and The Minted Mexican Mule - Ilegal Mezcal, mint & parsley syrup, lime juice and homemade ginger beer, to accompany their chilaquiles and frijoles refritos⠀
Another common sight on the bars during LCW was traditional nostalgic spirits, sodas and fizz. At the forefront was ginger beer, which came in flavoured homemade versions and also sourced from local brewers. In addition, old school mead continued to be a popular addition as was rhubarb and the perceived Grandmother's favourite - sherry.