London Cocktail Week – A Roundup
The week started as it meant to go on with the October meet of the London Cocktail Society in the Jub Jub bar at Callooh Callay. Bar manager and mixologist extraordinaire Sean Ware presented a seminar on London cocktails, from classic to contempory. See the LCS website for more details.
A desire not to be seen as an alcoholic forced me to spend a couple of days at work, before returning full-time to imbibing towards the end of the week. Purl became the centre of my affections for a couple of events. First off was some absinthe tasting courtesy of Distillnation. Until a couple of years ago I would have avoided such an event like the plague as I’m really not an anise fan. However, my palate appears to have matured and I found myself looking forward to trying some premium absinthe. A fascinating history of absinthe was presented by Alan Moss, before the real business of tasting began.
We sampled La Clandestine and Butterfly absinthe both in a traditional serve (with chilled water, no sugar) and in their signature cocktail. Both were unique and equally delicious, with the individual botanicals really shining through and neither the fluorescent green colour seen in so many lesser spirits. The highlight for me was the Clandestino cocktail, essentially an absinthe Caipirinha. Definitely one to try.
Fortunately my next stop was but a few paces across the bar for the Purl molecular masterclass. More on that here.
Friday was a whistle-stop tour starting at the World Class bar in Selfridges for a talk by Zacapa master distiller Lorena Vasquez followed by Glen Hooper talking about reviving the digestif. We met up with the wonderful Yetanothergin and all agreed that some rum blazers would be on the menu this Christmas.
Onwards to the Cuckoo Club where the London Cocktail Guide joined in the festivities to learn about Juleps, Cobblers and other assorted bourbon cocktails.
A short stop off in Mark’s bar at Hix for some nourishment to complement our cocktails (I can recommend not drinking a negroni whilst eating spotted dick with custard!) ensured we were well prepared for the trip over to Hammersmith to practice our classic cocktail skills at the Sipsmith distillery. Hosted by Sam Galsworthy and Jared Brown, this was not an event where anyone was going to fall asleep!
I was particularly excited about this event as I had yet to taste the Sipsmith gin and vodka. Produced in the first copper still to be used in London for over 200 years, I was expecting great things. Boy was I not disappointed, the vodka was very good but the stand-out for me was the gin. This is a very well balanced gin, flavoursome without being overpowering and a very long finish. Suffice to say, this makes an incredible martini and has rocketed straight into my top 3 gins.
We spent the rest of the evening being guided through a series of classic cocktails by the extremely knowledgeable Jared and Sam, most of which I knew full-well how to make at home but that wasn’t the point. This was about the entertainment and meeting new people as much as anything. I should mention the fantastic Cowfish joined us for the festivities.
A good nights sleep and it was onto Rumfest at Olympia. A much improved venue on last years Royal Horticultural halls and an opportunity to sample one or two of the best rums in the world. Of course, it being a rum event, the atmosphere was fantastic. On top of the usual favourites of Ron Zacapa and El Dorado, my ‘to buy’ list now also contains Diplomatico Reserva Exclusive (unbelieveable sipping rum), Atlantico (my new favourite mixing rum) and the range from Bristol Classic Rum. The highlight of any event with El Dorado present is when the 21yr bottle is opened, always a sure way to increase numbers to the stand!
In a very anti-Carribean style, Rumfest closed promptly at 6pm, forcing us together with a few stragglers such as Ginmonkey onto pastures new. And so it was the Casita in Shoreditch concluded my London Cocktail Week indlugence. A bar that I had never been to before, but definitely one to return to.
It was a fun, but tiring week, and one that I hope will go from strength to strength in coming years. Well done to everyone at Diffords who organised it.