In previous years World Gin Day has been, well, a day, with events hosted in up to 30 countries to celebrate the juniper-led tipple. But 2018 has seen WGD slot under the DrinkUp.London umbrella and the ante has been seriously upped.
Think a meanly sized minibar G&T upgraded to your full sized Spanish copa.
This Thursday (June 7th) festivities will kick off as a four day London-based festival with the same model used to run the now eight-year-old London Cocktail Week. There’s participating bars, £6 cocktails, sponsor brands, a jam-packed events schedule and a £10 festival pass.
‘We’ve lifted our festival model and scaled it back for a first year festival,’ Hannah Sharman-Cox, DrinkUp’s MD, tells Imbibe. ‘We’ve had to create slightly different ways of working with brands because of its smaller size but if it goes well we can scale it back up.’
DrinkUp is running the festival in partnership with Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey, who has been behind WGD since its conception in 2009.
Joining forces has already proved a successful venture for them both although ‘nothing will be quite as large as LCW,’ Sharman-Cox says, ‘it’s got legs, already proven by the sponsors on board, early ticket sales and the events timetable. We’re really happy with how it’s shaping up.’
Rather than the traditional hub, or in the case of LCW, an entire drinks market, the festival culminates in another event; Junipalooza. But from DrinkUp’s side it’s all about the bars, something the team has championed since that initial LCW. In fact each year this business diverts huge streams of money directly into London’s hospitality scene through the offers each bar puts on in conjunction with brand support. The festivals themselves don’t touch a penny from those sales and bars don’t pay to take part.
WGD will be one of six festivals DrinkUp is running this year, an enormous growth from just the one five years ago when the company was purchased by the owners of The Whisky Exchange. Straight after the gin-laced fun the team will go full-steam ahead into Absolut Midsommar. Then it’ll be Espresso Martini Festival followed by the giant that is LCW.
‘We’ve created a model that means there’s always something going on in London and consumers can come to us to find out what that is. It also means brands can plug their own activities into that schedule,’ said Sharman-Cox. ‘It was always the plan to grow but it’s happened much more quickly than we thought.’