Today saw the start of the very first London Cocktail week. And it’s a pretty exciting first too. Up until now there hasn’t been an industry event in the UK to compare with cocktail conferences hosted in America (such as Tales of the Cocktail) and hopes are high that this will be a worthy contender. Big kudos to Simon Difford for getting this off the ground.
A lot of events are now fully booked or require a registree wristband but there are still ways to join in. See the London Cocktail Week website for details.
Every day this week I will be updating this post with the day’s happenings:
Again, having to work to fill the cooking pot meant I missed out on some great events today. The Cazadores Hunt, a Bols Genever tasting, Nick Strangeways seminar on Edwardian cocktails – I could go on but it would sadden both me and you.
Even so, my evening kicked off with a great seminar with Benedictine at the House of St Barnabus in Soho Square. Cocktails and canapes were served on arrival and I’m here to tell you that a Benediction makes a great instant champagne cocktail. We then adjourned to the chapel for service, or rather the seminar, engagingly delivered by a French James Spader lookalike (much more than the picture below suggests). Recipes for some of the drinks we sampled are below:
Pour 25ml Benedictine into a flute, top up with champagne. Add dash of orange bitters (optional) and a lemon peel garnish.
Singapore Sling (original Raffles version)
35 ml gin
15 ml Benedictine
15 ml Cherry Brandy
Pour first three ingredients into a highball glass. Add ice cubes, top with soda water and garnish with lemon. To drink, squeeze lemon into glass and stir.
50 ml Benedictine
25 ml fresh lemon juice
2 bar spoons honey syrup (50:50 honey hot water)
Dash orange bitters
15 ml egg white
Add to cocktail shaker with ice (add ice last) and shake vigorously. Strain into a wooden cup. Or a crystal chalice. Or a silver goblet. Or a holy grail….(Scoffin aside, this was actually a damn good drink).
It was a wrench to leave such a lovely place and lovely people but new pastures were beckoning, so I dashed round the corner for a swift julep style drink and a regular hoe down courtesy of Four Roses Bourbon. This was at Lab/Academy/ or-whatever-they’re styling-themselves (the bar opposite Ed’s Diner on Old Compton St). I recommend popping in here as it seems open to all and not only are the drinks good but for this week only there are some fun entertainments laid on. Wed is a Navy vs. Pirates party with El Dorado Rum.
After that it was a hop, skip, jump to Courvoisier Speakeasy at the Future gallery for some New Orleans style fun – a three-piece jazz ensemble, and southern style drinks – entry with a wristband came with a free drinks and discount voucher. A bit of a bargain. I was advised it might still be possible to get entrance to tomorrows events if you contact the organisers: email@example.com.
I had then planned to go to Casa Sagatiba but I prefer not to dwell on unpleasant themes so won’t discuss how this went awry, merely the next bottle of Cachaca I buy won’t have Sagatiba on the label. Nuff said.
A great night but I hope for a better finish tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll try way out west, Trailer Happiness, The Londsdale etc.
PS If you don’t have a LCW wristband, why not check out the pop-up bar at Selfridges? Cocktail hour for Wednesday features Johnny Walker.
I had to restrict myself to a fairly sedate start to the week due to work commitments today and tomorrow but I still managed to get along to the London Cocktail Society’s first event of the week at Callooh Callay. The lovely Sean Ware led us through a potted history of London cocktails with a specially selected menu including:
- Hot Gin Punch – an 18th century punch, a time when it was safer to drink alcohol than water – thousands of recipes online.
- John Collins – The original Collins as made with Genever. This old verse says it all: “My name is John Collins, head waiter at Limmer’s, Corner of Conduit street, Hanover square; My chief occupation is filling of brimmers, For all the young gentlemen frequenters there.”
- The Avenue – from The Cafe Royal, which was the centre of drinking culture in London from the Art Nouveau Era of the 1890’s to the high point of Art Deco in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
- Clayton’s Special Cocktail – possibly invented by Ada Coleman of the Savoy. One key ingredient, Clayton’s Kola tonic, was first made in Battersea in the 1880s.
- Bramble – one of Dick Bradsell’s famous and now ubiquitous creations.
- An Ale of Two Cities – an award-winning drink invented by Sean himself, utilising the weirdly TCP-like taste of Feijoa and capturing the essence of a good pint in a good pub.
It was a convivial evening with good company which combined with the excellent drinks made for a warm, friendly and relatively sober start to the week. I think I may crank it up a notch tomorrow….