Home to an endless stream of buzzy bars and leading mixologists, London’s cocktail scene is one of the best in the world. It’s celebrated each year at a festival, London Cocktail Week, which returns from 12 – 22 October for its 14th edition. Whether you’re a spicy marg devotee, a hardcore negroni fan or a martini purist, there’s something for all cocktail lovers in the eclectic programme of over 100 events popping up across London. Read on for our pick of things to do at this year’s extravaganza.
London Cocktail Week 2023: A Guide
The Connoisseur’s Collection
New for 2023 is The Connoisseur’s Collection, a series of luxurious experiences taking place in glitzy bars across the city. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London with a special cocktail of the month (12 – 22 October), embark on a cocktail omakase experience at The Aubrey (12 – 13 October), or enjoy a first look at three signature cocktails at the sleek Velvet bar at Corinthia London. Set to be particularly special is a tasting opportunity at one of London’s highest bars, Gong at Shangri-La The Shard, where you’ll be treated to a hotly sought after window seat alongside cocktails, sushi, mochi and sake (12 – 22 October). Book here.
Big-name bartenders from far and wide are travelling to London for a series of bar takeovers. Bristol’s Milk Thistle will be bringing their whisky cocktails to Shoreditch hotspot Callooh Callay (16 October), Equal Parts bar will be hosting Paris’ Canderlaria for a night of St Germain cocktails (15 October), and the acclaimed Happiness Forgets is joining forces with New York’s Bar Goto (17 October). And, for the first time ever, five Lyan bars from all over the globe will be united under one roof at Sea Containers London, with venues like Super Lyan and Silver Lyan reconstructed in its hotel rooms (11 – 13 October). Book here.
Avoid the dreaded empty stomach hangover by pairing your cocktails with food. How about Patrón margaritas with a Mexican-style brunch at Cavita (14 October)? Freshly baked bread with cocktails from the Watsons’ Renais Gin (12 – 22 October)? Snacks, coffee and Irish whisky while touring London’s finest taverns on a bus (14 October)? Or (our top pick): champagne cocktails and dinner at Little Mercies in Crouch End (16 October)?
Fancy adding some dancing into the mix? Get yourself on the list for one of the many parties popping up around the capital. Kicking off the festival is an event at Discount Suit Company complete with a soundtrack of disco hits from DJ Princess Julia (12 October). Also not to be missed is the Discarded Disco, which will see rubbish, fashion and drinks colliding. Sip cocktails from zero-waste brand Discarded Spirits, create your own garments out of items that would have otherwise gone in the bin, then throw some shapes on the dancefloor, which is set beneath upcycled disco balls (19 October). Book here.
Keen to upskill in mixology? Learn the tricks of the trade from expert bartenders at one of London Cocktail Week’s masterclasses. The Perception Bar at W London hotel is hosting an intimate class where you’ll learn how to make cocktails from its new cocktail menu, paired with canapes. There’s also a gin-focused class from Japanese craft gin brand Ki No Bi at Shochu Lounge (17 and 18 October), a lesson in creating the perfect Espresso Martini at GRIND Soho (18 October) and much more.
How To Book
You need a wristband to take part in the festival. These are available from £12.50pp at designmynight.com. Once you have a wristband, you’ll be entitled to £8 cocktails in participating bars across the city for the duration of London Cocktail Week. Other events require a specific ticket, find out more at londoncocktailweek.com.