Uniting the biggest collection of mezcals in the UK under one roof, London Mezcal Week is returning to the capital for its second year.
Running 10-16 September, the week-long celebration will host talks, dinners, parties and a large two-day tasting that will see just under 40 mezcal producers, some not yet available here, bringing their ranges to the festival hub in London Bridge. There, consumers and trade can talk directly with the producers, sample their mezcals and get a better understanding of Mexico’s burgeoning spirit.
Mezcal Festival, 14 – 15 September
44 Southwark Street, London, SE1 9HW
A rooftop bar, mezcal cocktails, food from chef Santiago Lastras, DJs from 7pm for the evening fiesta. On the Sunday, London Mezcal Week’s sponsors London Essence Co, the skilfully crafted mixers, will be hosting a brunch complete with Micheladas and Margaritas to work off the Sunday hangover.
Tasting Room, 14 – 15 September
Within the Mezcal Festival.
The Tasting Room with one of the UK’s largest selections of mezcals to date, and some producers which have never been available in the UK before. For £25 per person, festival-goers can book a 2-hour session.
Tickets available from www.londonmezcalweek.com
Mexcian Feast, 11 September
44 Southwark Street, SE1 9HW
One-off dinner with renowned Mexican chef Santiago Lastras who has worked with local producers in the UK to create Mexican-style food. Guests can enjoy a four course feast paired with mezcal cocktails from 7pm.
Agave Love, 13 September
5 Mercer Walk Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA
Join two of the biggest legends in agave spirits, Tomas Estes and Phil Bayly, to listen to their tales of discovering tequila and mezcal back in the 70s, how they fell in love with the country and the liquid, their journey opening famed bars and restaurants and how the category has changed over the years.
Founded by two small mezcal brand owners, Thea Cumming of Dangerous Don and Melanie Symonds of Quiquiriqui, the aim of the festival is to give a free platform and voice to small producers trying to bring mezcal out of Mexico and into UK bars.
‘We’re aiming to create a platform and look after the producers – who we’re not charging to be there,’ says Cumming. ‘We know what it’s like as small brand owners who can’t afford to be at the big trade shows. So hopefully we can get more people supporting the category and forging trade links.’
Cumming and Symonds have chosen to work solely with independent producers who use traditional methods, hoping that uniting them for the London market and opening up distribution links will help protect the small distillers against industrialisation.
‘This week is for the category and our mezcal family,’ says Symonds. ‘There’s going to be party vibes sometimes and plenty of mezcal love going around, but at the Tasting Room we want to create a more serious atmosphere where people are there to get to know the spirit and the producers.’
Bars across London will be creating special mezcal serves and cocktails throughout the week as well, including several pop-up mezcalerias where those new to the spirit as well as long-term agave lovers can enjoy mezcal side-by-side. Confirmed venues flying the mezcal flag include Temper Soho, Café Pacifico, Callooh Callay, Super Lyan and Cocktail Trading Co.
A key highlight for the trade will be the appearance of Phil Bayly, who is the global mezcal ambassador. Bayly will be hosting numerous talks – from terrior chats to agave blind tastings – but the one not to miss is his Agave Love with old friend and European tequila ambassador Tomas Estes, making it the first time ever the pair has run an event in the UK.
‘We’re bringing in the key players from the agave world to help us reach more people about mezcal,’ says Symonds. ‘There’s a growing interest in mezcal in the UK but this will hopefully push the cause to get bigger ranges in bars. There’s such a huge variety in the spirit that it’s a shame to only have one bottle or one representation. It’s never going to be as big as gin or vodka because mezcal is handmade but it would be great to see bars with bigger collections.’
Symonds and Cumming are optimistic the week will showcase that it’s not all about smoky, punchy spirits, but that there are plenty of different entry points to the category and that it can be enjoyed with single mixers or sipped neat, as they do in Oaxaca.
For a full schedule of events and venues taking part visit www.londonmezcalweek.com