London Cocktail Week 2023 launches this week: A look at the programme
How do you pick your favourite bar in London? Picture asking that of Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne, who’ve been, amongst their many roles, wearing the hat of organising the London Cocktail Week for the past 14 years. The original festival, which has sparked off similar formats across Europe, returns this October for a week (or so) to highlight the city’s eclectic, vibrant, and innovative bar scene.
From the local to the most renowned spots, whether decked with awards or carving out a unique niche, every London bar on the list has its own story to tell, contributing to the rich diversity of the selection. With this in mind, it’s clear to see why compiling such an ensemble might’ve been no small feat, but the end result presented to the public is prime. The programme stretches from Putney to Hoxton, from Crouch End to Knightsbridge, along with the usual suspects in the centre, encompassing a grand total of over 200 venues.
Equipped with red wristbands and guidebooks, attendees can pop into any of the listed bars between 12th and 22nd of October and nab a signature cocktail for £8 or a non-alcoholic brew for £6. Curated cocktail tours are an exciting way of making the most of the festival, ticking off favourites and unexplored ones on the bar-hopping journey. Masterclasses and international takeovers are also on the docket during these ten days. And new for 2023 is the Connoisseur’s Collection: a series of luxury experiences offered by a handful of bars that elevate the cocktail’s enjoyment with a dash of glamour.
Highlights include sipping an authentic Vintage Daiquiri crafted with rare 1970s Bacardi rum at the American Bar and partaking in a unique Omakase Experience with The Aubrey’s Bar maestro, Pietro Rizzo. For members of the drinks trade visiting for the event, there’s a dedicated lineup of activities on offer. Not to be missed is the Bartender Knowledge Exchange, dishing out behind-the-scenes training and insights right from the counter of some of the big names in the game.
“Even during the pandemic, we got asked so much to organise the festival that, somehow, we didn’t stop even at that time,” Payne explains. The passion and perseverance of the founders, through both the routine and the extraordinary moments of the industry, combined with the deep sense of community and outstanding hospitality the event cultivates, are firmly at the root of London Cocktail Week’s success and guiding vision.
On public transport, commuters may have spotted some promotional posters where Julia, Derrick, Sly, Florina and many more smile at the camera, shakers and spoons in hand. After such a troubled time in the last couple of years in the country, the initiative focuses and redirects to the core of the initiative: the human faces, the stories and the personality of the bartenders. A toast to the craft and creativity of this lively community.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti (except header)