London Cocktail Week is returning. This should, naturally, not come as a huge surprise, LCW being an annual event that has occurred over the last 3 years at this time in London. However, given the very nature of LCW, which includes hundreds of cocktail-based events, opportunities and discounts, such memory loss might be more forgivable.
London Cocktail Week bases itself in Seven Dials in Covent Garden, but as a festival it holds events all over the city. Seven Dials itself is transformed into a drinker's dream, as each of the roads leading from the central sundial monument holding exclusive events, pop-up shows and stores, and training and sampling sessions. No space is too small, as festival goers will discover- last year I spent a merry hour learning about cocktail twists in a hidden courtyard, before stumbling on gamely to an event in a private members bar, open to the public only for LCW.
(photo by Alys Tomlinson)
The calendar of events, promotions, sessions and discounts is overwhelming, even when sober, so this year I have simply asked my friends to make suggestions, and will otherwise happily wander about Seven Dials. I may even hop onto a LCW cocktail tour, where luxury buses take visitors to hundreds of different London bars for unlimited and bespoke £4 cocktails.
(photo by Addie Chinn)
One of my most valuable LCW experiences last week was with the Portobello Road Ginstitute. In a pop-up space in Seven Dials, the team from Portobello Road Gin assembled their very own Ginstitute- an evening spent learning and then blending one's very own bottle of gin. I was very proud of the bottle I myself created, which I felt was perfectly balanced, each of the botanicals having been lovingly chosen by myself. The precise and unique blend I had created stood for a long time after LCW on my drinks shelf, and I had several lovely moments when guests asked me about it, and listened admiringly to my newfound gin knowledge. Naturally, I strongly implied that such unique and rarified gin was not for drinking, and pointed my friends quickly towards a store-bought bottle of my flatmate's.
(photo by Dan Malpass)
The bottle was still on the shelf when my parents popped in to look at my new flat before taking me out to lunch. 'This is cool,' My step-father said approvingly, admiring the Portobello Road gin bottle. 'When did you make this?' I explained happily, pleased to be able to cement my position as favourite child, a task made trickier by my little sister's insistence on being a doctor. 'It was a really fun event,' I said as I went to the kitchen to get my Mother a glass of water. I had to wash a glass properly, so I was away from my parents for a good 3-4 minutes, and returned to find them happily sloshing great swathes of my gin into less-conscientiously washed glasses.
This treachery still smarts, a year later, as I look at my now depleted bottle of Portobello Road gin. Luckily, following last year's sell-out success, the team from Portobello Road Gin No. 171 are back again this year with their own Pop-Up Parlour in the Seven Dials Club. From midday - 2am the bar will open to all guests of the festival and be serving a short menu of classic gin cocktails using their own recipe London Dry Gin - Portobello Road No.171. At lunchtime, Resident Gin Instructor and raconteur Jake F. Burger, the same man who guided me through making my own bottle of gin, will be holding court during a 'Three Martini Lunch' event. One hour, 3 martinis, endless stories. I've forwarded the booking form to my parents already.
To buy your wristband go to www.londoncocktailweek.com, for updates follow @LDNCocktailWeek. Wristbands cost £10.