We’re not breaking new ground by telling you London’s cocktail scene is among the best in the world. So, it’s no surprise a’tall that the city is home to the largest annual cocktail festival on the planet. London Cocktail Week kicked off this week for the eighth year in a row, and more than 30,000 are expected to attend.
Between October 2-8, more than 300 participating bars and restaurants throughout London will be hosting themed events, cocktail talks, workshops, and master classes in mixology. As in previous years, Old Spitalfields Market will serve as headquarters for the London Cocktail event, complete with a custom cocktail “village.”
Outside the market there will be a host of free cocktail-inspired goings-on. Attendees can blend their own whisky at The Blend (a pop-up bar by Chivas Regal); sample cocktails made from waste ingredients (better than it sounds) at Trash Tiki’s pop-up pub; and score a free tattoo courtesy of Sailor Jerry and ink shop Cloak & Dagger.
Bars from around the world will descend upon England’s capital city to participate in full bar takeovers. Australia’s iconic Black Pearl — winner of this year’s “Best International Cocktail Bar” award — will invade Hoxton’s Super Lyan with a superhero themed. Lyan founder and superstar bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana will join forces with head bartender Will Sleeman for the one-night event.
If there’s a headline event for American cocktail fans, it’s likely The Dead Rabbit’s takeover of The Sun Tavern on Bethnal Green. Jillian Vose, beverage director for the legendary New York City watering hole, will climb behind the bar for one night only to mix one-of-a-kind cocktails inspired by Slane Irish Whiskey.
This year, the event has gone digital. The previous “analog” (read: pain in the arse) wristbands, guidebooks, confusing bar maps, and long lines have all been scrapped. Event-goers now simply download the DrinkUp.London app and activate their pass. Then, for the entire week, it’s a matter of flashing this digital pass to the bartender at any participating bar to score a £6 ($7.95) cocktail.
Tickets are still available via DrinkUp.London. The £10 ($13.25) digital pass entitles holders to unlimited £6 cocktails at many restaurants and bars throughout the city, plus exclusive, event-sponsored discounts at other venues and ticketed meetups.