From fizzy to fast-and-dirty and reality 2.0, here's what you need to know about the best drinks at London Cocktail Week, from 5-11 October
In a dizzying display of muddling, mixing, stirring and sipping, London Cocktail Week 2015 is open for business.
And with a village of demos and drinks at Shoreditch's Old Spitalfields Market, plus a hub of the same over in the West End's Soho, it's a whole lot bigger than ever before.
We popped down on opening night to see what the new and emerging trends are in the sexy world of mixed drinks. Here's what we discovered.
1. Cocktails go savoury
It's all about swapping out the traditional sweet, syrupy flavours of fruit juice and sugars and taking a walk on the savoury side instead. Shoreditch drinks den Worship Street Whistling Shop has launched a new menu – the highlight of which is the 1691: a smooth, sharp meld of raspberry vinegar, Grand Marnier reduction and goats' cheese-infused vodka.
Yes, goats' cheese.
"It's all about getting this viscous, buttery mouthfeel," says the bar's co-owner Thomas Aske.
One drinks supremo who's been playing with this idea for a while is Rich Woods of Duck & Waffle fame. He gave us a mini masterclass in how to make his red pepper bellini and sugar-snap pea-infused gin and tonic. "I use vegetables that have a natural sweetness, so they pair well," he says.
Rich (pictured, above) is heading up the London team for London Cocktail Week's 24-Hour Bar Build challenge on Saturday 10 October. The best bartenders from our capital plus Paris, New York and Singapore will compete to produce the most creative cocktail menu. It'll be a fun one, if you're about.
Tickets are available here from £35 and includes five tokens for cocktails as well as access to the entire venue. N&C Showrooms, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, E16 PG London.
2. Getting fizzy with it
Your favourite tipples are coming over all bubbly. The London Cocktail Week village is showcasing a collaboration between renowned mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (of White Lyan and Dandelyan) and Sodastream MIX.
The big idea here is carbonated cocktails: blends are inserted into a fizz-making machine and come out all bubbly and delicious. As a side note: they're also made using unrefined sugars, which is the cocktail world's answer to the 'real food' movement.
There's another trend at play here, too. The cold brew coffee gin and tonic was introduced to us by London-based Sandows this summer …
But it's appearing on the menu here, too.
3. Reality goes next level
Another theme that's popping out is augmented reality.
Earlier this year, barman Benji Purslow of Keystone Crescent private member's club in London, played with cocktails and virtual reality headwear. The drinks and the technology transported the drinker to Italy, and the aforementioned Worship Street Whistling Shop's new menu includes a QR code that unlocks a secret menu.
But it's not all about super fancy pants high tech. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey's offering at London Cocktail Week is all about easy-peasy drinks you can make with bits you've probably already got at home.
A measure of spirit, two shots of fresh lemon juice, a spoon of apricot jam, and a whole lot of ice shaken up in a jar is what they're encouraging. "This way, everyone can make delicious Friday night drinks at home," says brand ambassador Andrea Montague.
Like this? Then try these:
- 5 beer-based cocktails
- How to drink cocktails like you're in Mad Men
- 3 cocktails to make you feel like you're in Paris
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