If you are a cocktail lover, drinks enthusiast or a home-bartender you probably have no difficulties figuring out what the letters LCW stand for. Organised since 2010 by DrinkUp, London Cocktail Week is a truly remarkable event where you can indulge yourself in sipping on some of the most exquisite cocktails across London’s incredibly diverse cocktail bars, made by top notch bartenders. With over 300 different venues to choose from there is definitely something for everyone!
Every year I look forward to this week as it is a brilliant way to get inspired, see what’s trending and without a doubt it is the perfect way to spend a night out. This year however, I decided to explore the cocktail village with a purpose of identifying the products, concepts and flavour tendencies that could be applied in the events world.
For the second year in a row, the cocktail village was located in The Truman Brewery. After entering the building and receiving the ‘almighty’ wristband allowing me to buy any cocktail for £6 I was pleasantly welcomed by the sound of the 80’s. Think of artists like Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi and guests singing along their top hits! Moving swiftly through the crowd and looking around at the bar stands I realised that besides the all binding eighties music in the background there was no other one common theme across the cocktail village.
From classic Martinis served with oysters to bubble-gum daiquiris – there was plenty to choose from. Nevertheless, there were three key concepts that stood out for me and I believe were most well received by the audience.
Being a regular visitor at the London cocktail week I can see what has changed over the years and what concepts seem to do better than others. For example, compared to previous LCWs, this year at the cocktail village, at almost every stand, guests were offered a variety of activities and experiences rather than just a grab and go cocktail. Just a few to mention, Bathtub Gin held creative masterclasses, Monkey Shoulder went with a silent disco next to their now iconic cement truck while Laphroaig focused on everything there’s to do with smoke.
No cocktail week would be complete without the true Italian experience which was presented by Italicus this year. Their focus was on the dream combination of Negronis and pastas with their Italicus gelato being the cherry on top. However, for me Coca-Cola did the best job by taking a limited number of guests at a time to an intimate VIP lounge where they offered their guests cocktails made with their new range of mixers.
This may seem a rather simple idea, however by allowing only a few people at a time to enjoy their drinks, they created a concept of intimacy and made every guest feel just a bit more special.
Whether it may be a future trend or simply going back to ‘basics’ due to the high volume, this year I have noticed that most of the bar stands at the cocktail village were serving their drinks with little to no garnish. Also, the majority of the tipples were focused on the flavour of the spirit, leaving out all the complex artisan/home-made syrups, shrubs and foams seen in previous years.
For example, the guests at Dubliner could enjoy a delicious Pear whisky sour; while Disaronno seemed also very popular with their signature Disaronno Fizz, served in a fancy white glass with just an orange peel and I also have to mention Laphroaig and their wonderfully smoky Pencillin, which was a real treat.
Schweppes however, took a different approach and the they went all out with some super creative garnishes and ingredients. From tipples made with tomato consommé to bursting smoke bubbles, their cocktails were surely very innovative and enjoyable.
If you visited LCW the previous years, you might have noticed that the majority of the stands were the biggest and most well-known brands in business, however this year, there were an array of smaller, exciting, boutique companies mixing delicious drinks and spreading the word about their special product. In terms of representation, as expected, gin was still at the top of the list (Bathtub, Roku., Fords and many more), however, there were plenty of other drinks to discover. There were some lovely Pisco Cocktails made by El Gobernador; Negronis at Italicus and Espresso Martinis shaken with Dubliner Honeycomb liqueur. It was definitely a breath of fresh air to see all these brands come to the fore and offer something different from the usual.
All in all, this year’s Cocktail Village certainly did not disappoint. I particularly liked that the industry as a whole seems to focus more and more on trying to educate people on quality drinking and there is no better way of doing so than creating special experiences and via these, personal connections to their customers. I cannot wait to see what LCW 2020 has in store for us!
By Dovile Daugelaite