This has to be one of the best weeks of the year.
London Cocktail Week, now in its 7th year, claims to be the biggest, most vibrant celebration of our capital’s fantastic cocktail scene. And what a celebration it is! I was lucky enough to be invited along to the cocktail village for the first time, and I took Alex with me to see what was happening.
The village itself takes up most of the market place in old Spitalfields, is clearly sign posted (you definitely won’t get lost) and is actually a lot bigger than I first thought.
In the cocktail village this year, there are 39 brands, each with their own unique and creatively designed area. Some were so cool, take a look at these…
I loved the Fever-Tree roof terrace garden, Captain Morgan’s pirate ship was quite cool and the Rum Kitchen’s Caribbean inspired set for Bacardi was very fruity and leafy, it was awesome.
We stopped by Tia Maria first, whom this year are all about the coffee cocktail revolution. Their section was designed to look like a sophisticated coffee shop, which I loved, with hanging rose gold lights, a sleek seating area and their new branding being displayed – they have such a cool image of London created in coffee paraphernalia!
It’s like where’s wally, but with Alex…
Alex and I both picked one of the 6 coffee cocktails on the menu (SIX!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many, normally you only get an espresso martini as an option), Alex going for the Russian flat white and myself the popcorn frappe.
So this was my second ever coffee cocktail! Can you believe it? But my Popcorn frappe was fab. Creamy, yet light, it had a distinctive coffee taste coming through and was decorated with a handful of popcorn on top – so cool!
Alex’s Tia Maria coffee cocktail was super yummy too. It had rum in it, which went really well – I was a little surprised at this, but that’s probably down to my lack of coffee cocktail experience.
I also got the chance to chat to Rod Eslamieh, Tia Maria’s expert Mixologist, about anything and everything to do with the cocktail world.
A quick snap of Rod and I
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as passionate and enthusiastic about cocktails – Rod told me that he’d NEVER get bored of creating cocktails. He said that it’s all about the stories and journeys spirits make to get where they are today which keeps him intrigued. With every new drink, there’s a new journey to make – what a cool way of thinking about it!
Rod didn’t have a favourite cocktail, as it changes all of the time – I think there are just so many, I feel like this a lot of the time – but he did talk a bit about world trends. Apparently, these days due to social media, whatever is on trend in the UK or America, makes its way around the World pretty quickly – so the trends are pretty similar everywhere. And yes, that does mean Gin is still massive everywhere!
We carried on chatting, and finished our Tia Maria cocktails before having a wander around the rest of the village, taking in what all of the other brands had to offer, from inspiring sets to creative drinks.
I loved the Rum Kitchen quarters. It felt almost like I was somewhere tropical, with all of the fruit and tropical plants. I wanted to try everything on the cocktail menu, but settled for the summer punch. It was fruity, refreshing and almost zingy, and was served in a tin style glass which was pretty cool. I think this might have been my second favourite cocktail.
Caught in the action – Photo courtesy of Lateef Okunnu
Alex tried the Baileys Freak Shake which was made with their new Baileys Pumpkin Spice Liqueur. It looked amazing, served with whipped cream and a piece of Pumpkin Pie balanced on top. It was really yummy, with a strong flavour of pumpkin coming through, but was very much like a dessert as it was really thick! I don’t think I could have managed a whole one.
We did also pop by London Cocktail Club for a frozen Mai Tai, which was awesome. This strong rum cocktail, was fruity and had a slight citrus taste coming through. It was fab – I do love a frozen cocktail! The guys behind the bar were so cool too, flaring, breathing fire, all sorts..they sure put on a great show!
One of the guys from London Cocktail Club photo-bombing by Mai Tai shot
There was food too, but we were too busy mingling and drinking to be munching – we went on a hunt for dinner after.
The best bit about London Cocktail Week, once you’re in the cocktail village (£10 entry gets you a wristband), you get £5 cocktails for the whole time!
There is also a list of 250 bars in London which are taking part, meaning you can go along with your wristband and get a £5 cocktail there too! Great for exploring a new place to drink – I might give a couple of new bars a visit this weekend.
This is such a fab event for London to hold. Cocktails are so popular right now – even brunch places are serving cocktails! – and whether you’re a cocktail enthusiast or someone new to the scene, it’s a great place to explore what bars and brands have to offer.
It’s also great for the weekend – it’s on until Sunday, so if you get chance to swing by, I highly recommend it!
Are you a coffee cocktail enthusiast? What’s your face cocktail?
*I was invited along to London Cocktail Week by Tia Maria, to visit the Tia Maria Coffee Project stand. All views my own.