What to do, see and taste at London Cocktail Week

Gaëlle Laforest

30 September 2015

By now you'll be aware that London Cocktail Week is just around the corner – probably because you've got events planned at your venue every night of the week and are currently working up the enthusiasm to work around the clock for a week. But if you happen to have a bit of free time at any point, we've rounded up some of the best events aimed at the on-trade. Calendars at the ready, get set, drink...

On Monday, start big with The Whisky Show's trade day. This year it's at Old Billingsgate Market, and events are centred around the 'Whisky Legends' theme. There'll be plenty of rare whiskies to sample at £10 per 'dream dram', and trade tickets are free and include a meal. Next, pop into Old Spitalfields Market at 5pm for the opening of the London Cocktail Week hub, before making your way down the road to London Cocktail Club Shoreditch for the Underground Punch Pong League final. Alternatively, there's also the return of the Old Bar Superstar Takedown party.

The Underground Punch Pong League 2014 final
The Underground Punch Pong League 2014 final

Tuesday will ask you to pick your spirit of choice, with trade masterclasses courtesy of Buffalo Trace, Ogilvy Vodka and Leblon on the schedule. Ibiza comes to London in the evening, with a Hidden Bar pop-up at East London's Casita – made even more special since Hidden closed its doors for the last time last week.

Wednesday is your chance to learn more about the non-alcoholic spirit we wrote about recently, Seedlip, with a talk from its founder Ben. There's also a takeover of Callooh Callay by the team from New York City's Mother's Ruin.

Brace yourself for a packed Thursday. It sees the beginning of three days of masterclasses by Giuseppe Gallo (until very recently, the global Martini ambassador) in partnership with Tony C's Bar Termini , on Italian spirits. Get yourself down to the Spitalfields Hub for these. It's also the first of two days of Think Outside the Box, a series of talks happening at Concrete in Shoreditch. Today Dandelyan's Iain Griffiths and Duck & Waffle's Rich Woods talk all things agave, Parisian barkeeps will share their journey from bartender to bar owner, some of the world's best bartenders chat team spirit, and the exploding Singapore cocktail scene gets into the limelight. PDT's Jim Meehan is also in London for a talk not to be missed. And then it's onto the various World's 50 Best Bars after parties. We've got our eye on Maverick Drinks's Glass After Dark, which brings the Parisian party bar to London for one night only – but Callooh Callay and Drambuie also have some plans for the occasion.

Still got a pulse by Friday? Fittingly, Think Outside the Box kicks off with a talk on maintaining a balanced lifestyle while bartending. Artesian's Alex Kratena will also be chatting all things design, while the guys from the Soho House will share their philosophy on service, and you'll be able to look into the punch bowl too – literally and metaphorically. Today's also the first of two London Sessions of the week, with Tommy's Julio Bermejo.

Saturday you've got the second London Session, and this time Employees Only's Steve Schneider is up to share his story. On the night, it's all going down as London takes on no less than New York, Paris and Singapore in #24HRBARBUILD. Each team will make four cocktails and attendees will pick the best bartending city – we reckon we've got a good chance, with a team made up of Rich Woods, Andrew Shannon, Iain Griffiths, Luca Missaglia, Nathan Shearer and Sly Augustin.

Provided you can get up at all on Sunday, head to Porky's in Shoreditch for brunch courtesy of Jack Daniel's – and a promise to leave brand chat off the table. Then the women take the stage for the final of Speed Rack UK at the Old Spitalfields hub, with discounted tickets for the on-trade with the code BACKTHERACK. The last ones standing can head to NOLA for the week's closing party, with plenty of bourbon and blues, no doubt.

The Buffalo Bourbon Empire
The Buffalo Bourbon Empire

And all week long you'll have workshops happening at the World Class Bartender's Studio in the afternoon to get playing with foams and rotovaps and expand on your technical skills. At the Old Spitalfields Hub you'll be able to try the new Angostura expression as well as Buffalo Trace's new Antique Collection at the brand's Bourbon Empire. You can also get a haircut or beard trim courtesy of Chivas Regal and Ruffians (we're not even making this up – just email chivas@ruffians.co.uk with 'CHIVAS', your full name, preferred time, which bar you work for and what you require). See the whole LCW trade schedule here.

Wine folks, no need to flee the capital for the week – there are portfolio tastings courtesy of Sud de France UK distributors, Wines of South AfricaRed Squirrel and the third Vaults Tastings next week. Between the occasional cocktail masterclass, of course.

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