Forget Fashion Week, London Cocktail Week is the autumnal event I always look forward to. It's a unique opportunity to explore the city's thriving drinks culture. Taking place from the 5-11 October, more than 250 bars across the city will be offering £5 cocktails and there are tons of parties, tastings and tours to enjoy. With such an dizzying array of drinks, here are some signature serves to look out for:
For those who like classic cocktails with a twist:
South Place Hotel, Moorgate
A short walk from the Spitalfields' Cocktail Week Village. This boutique hotel's £5 cocktail is named after the Indian Goddess, Kali. It's a twist on the Corpse Reviver no.2 with some Indian spice and a dash of Velvet Falernum.
Ladies and Gentlemen Bar, Kentish Town
Over in Kentish Town, Freixenet are taking over William Borrell's Ladies and Gentlemen bar, an underground cocktail bar in a former Victorian toilet. Their £5 signature serve is the Twinkle Toes: 25ml Vestal vodka,15ml elderflower cordial and topped with Freixenet Cordon Negro.
Buffalo Bourbon Empire, Shoreditch
The Buffalo Trace Distillery has been recreated above Old Shoreditch Station for a full-on immersive whisky experience. Their £5 cocktail is called "I've got 99 bourbons, but a beech ain't one" and comprises of Buffalo Trace, Aunt Jemima's corn syrup, mint and chocolate bitters are muddled together and served with a beech smoke and chocolate soil.
The Blind Pig, Soho
This is the super cool speakeasy above Jason Atherton's Social Eating House. They'll be serving a Monkey Shoulder Snakebite made from Monkey Shoulder whisky, pear liqueur, ale reduction, cider syrup, and lemon juice.
For exercise avoiders:
Cocktail Week Village, Shoreditch
Over 30 pop-up bars have come together to form a huge cocktail village at Old Spitalfields Market, including: the Bulleit Woody Trailer, Pococello (Pizza Pilgrims and Chase Vodka's Limoncello Van) and the Alchemy Lounge (a collaboration between Soda Stream and International Bartender of the year, Ryan Chetiyawardana). One of the two main Cocktail Week hubs, there'll be parties, tastings and masterclasses here all week and no walking necessary. Insider tip: climb up to the mezzanine for a bird's eye view and a drink at The House of Angostura.
'Dessert' cocktails for those with an insatiably sweet-tooth:
The Dead Parrot Presents - The Flying Circus Pop-Up, Old Truman Brewery
A crazy circus pop-up from the winners of the Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship 2015. Their triumphant £5 serve is Hook A Buck: Monkey Shoulder whisky, toffee apple syrup, ginger, malic acid, topped with cider.
OXO Bar, South Bank
This cocktail even comes with a gob stopper. The 'Shut Up and Drink' is a sweet mix of Vodka, rhubarb vodka, strawberry shrub, lime mix, bubblegum, milk and topped with cream soda.
Aqua Nueva, Regent Street
Rooftop Spanish bar, Aqua Nueva, has created the sweet-sounding Butter & Mint Drop: Tanqueray 10 gin washed with butter fat, homemade tiramisu syrup, topped with mint soda. (See below for more info on fat-washing)
Barrio East, Shoreditch
Swing by for an alcoholic take on the classic French Tarte au Citron with Herradura Plata tequila, Monin lemon pie syrup, lemon juice and a tonka bean whipped cream float.
Feeling adventurous? Cocktails with surprisingly savoury ingredients:
Three Six Six, Battersea
For hipsters and cocktail connoisseurs: fat-washing is a technique that infuses spirits with lard or oil. Greasy cocktails as a concept may seem distinctly unappetising, however the fat is actually chilled and almost entirely removed, leaving behind a rich savoury flavour. Three Six Six have created the Ibérico & Truffle Old Fashioned using Woodford Reserve bourbon washed with ibérico ham & white truffle fat, homemade muscovado madagascar vanilla & roasted coffee beans syrup, homemade cardamom bitters.
The Cocktail Trading Co.,Regent St
Another fat-washed cocktail from The Cocktail Tradig Co, an experimental bar in the West End known for it's highly eclectic menu. Feelin' Chipper is a mix of Fords gin, roast potato syrup, peach & thyme shrub and fat trimmings.