This past week has been London Cocktail Week. This is an event that I 100% endorse. It has cocktails, in London (for a week). The basic premise is that you get a wrist band which gives you access to a village of pop-ups (mostly run by spirits companies, plus a few bars), and a book which contains a list of bars. At each of these bars you can get a drink for a fiver. Unfortunately this year I was (for quite a few reasons – stupid health) unable to make the most of it, but I’ve managed a few days which I will ramble about over the next few posts!
So it all kicked off on Monday so I ambled over to Spitalfields market where the main village is to grab my wristband and have a wander. It felt a little smaller this year than last – I think that had a lot to do with a lot of the stands being taller, so it felt a lot more closed in, rather than actually being smaller, but there was a good level of busy without being so busy you couldn’t get to things. As soon as we’d gotten in we were accosted by people who were giving out tasters of an ‘alcoholic ice cream’. Sounds OK in theory. Not so much in practise. Lovely girlfriend tried the Mojito (tasted plasticy and sweet) and I (already not really wanting one) was suggested the Toffee Vodka (plasticy and icky levels of sweet – although admittedly a bad idea given that it’s about toffee vodka is un-me-like as you can get anyway – I did like the salt caramel stoli when I tried that though). Suffice to say it was a big thumbs down and we definitely won’t be buying (nor did we then, much to their annoyance – they came across as if they expected us to buy because we’d had a free taster).
Onwards to find as far away from horrific toffee vodka flavoured ice cream. Our first stop was a bar run by the cocktail festival organisers. It was selling signature drinks by 8 top London bars. All sounded nom. I opted for a ‘Sexy Fish Old Fashioned’ (not ~just~ because of the name of the bar it came from!) which was indeed a long long way from that stuff. Thankfully pre-made (although jury is out on whether you actually need to do all of the dissolving sugar and stuffs – maybe I will have an Old Fashioned off against myself to see which works better) with the addition of some calvados and nice bitters was OK. Not the best old fashioned I’ve ever had, but definitely the best old fashioned I’ve had for a fiver!
Next stop was The Drink Factory stand. I’m going to put my cards on the table first and say that as a company they run two of my favourite bars (69 Colebroke Row and Bar Termini), so the bar was set pretty high. I had a drink called a Panama Hat. I’m not going to lie, I can’t actually remember what was in it. It did however come (again pre-made) in a very cool little aluminium bottle. It tasted like Calpol! It had the texture of Calpol! It may have actually been Calpol! I do not care because it was also nom. Obviously it almost certainly didn’t taste like Calpol, as it was delicious, but it clicked something in my brain. It tasted like I remember Calpol tasting like, with all the nasty bits taken out.
A break to carb up at The Diner, which did involve a hard shake as we were joined by some friends just as we’d finished eating (a lot less good than I remember them being), and we wondered back in. Due to my Calpol description of the Panama Hat we ended up headed back to the Drink Factory stand. A Bar Termini aged Negroni for me this time – which are usually wonderful – but was not cold enough so it lacked something unfortunately. Doubley not good as given that it was a school night, that ended up being the last drink of the evening.