London Cocktail Week(end)

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, London will host the final days of its annual Cocktail Week extravaganza. Although having started the Monday just gone, the final weekend portion naturally is the busiest, best and most, er, cocktaily of the whole intoxicating schedule.

Because we love you, here are a few ideas for how you can spend the next few days riding the crest of the cocktail wave, and enjoy some good old fashioned excess is moderation…

Seven Dials, Covent Garden
‘Seminars and pop-ups’ may sound like a conference programme, but Seven Dials, Covent Garden, really is the number one stop for your cocktail fix this weekend. With over 150 bars hosting tasties, parties, masterclasses and other intimate events, you can buy a wristband for £10 that will see gain exclusive access to a range of £4 ‘tails, as well as other perks.

Carnival of Knowledge, Great Portland Street
This self-contained Hendrick’s festival-du-liver, housed in the iconic 33 Fitzroy Square, incorporates a range of bars, quirky food and drink affairs, and oddball (often morbidly-focussed) lectures that include ‘surreal suppers’, ‘dresses to die for’ and ‘London Hereafter’ – a particularly mind-twisting lecture that sees Dr John Troyer (Centre for Death and Society) explore how our online personas will live on after we bite the dust. Hence why you’ll need a drink. Entry prices ranges from free to a small number of pounds, depending on the event.

Rumfest, Docklands
Now in its seventh year, the 400-bottle event showcases diverse and delicious rums, alongside live music and tropical food that will keep your rummy tummy happy. Held on Saturday and Sunday only at the Excel centre, tickets cost £25, which gives you access to seminars, demonstrations and five tasters. You can, of course, be a proper pirate and have as much rum as you like on top of that. Arrrrg.

OK, let’s steer away from the usual suspects (Experimental Cocktail Club, 69 Colebrooke Row, Milk and Honey yada yada), because those of you who love cocktails already know about them…

Kamique, Leicester Square/Covent Garden
With £4.50 Mojitos during happy hour, solid sharing platters and a less swanky atmosphere that is much more relaxed and easy-going, Kamique is a nice addition to Leicester Square. Keep your eyes peeled for a review very soon…

Central and Co, Carnaby
‘Jimmy the Hat’ does sound like a children’s book, which is apt because the creator and exceptional barman of the same name is at the helm of a new literature themed cocktail experience at Oxford Circus’s brasserie/cocktail bar Central and Co. Friday 11 October will focus on Treasure Island, which means you can expect (and I quote): ‘Rum cocktails fit for a buccaneer that will include The Silver Swizzle, Mai Tai Treasure and Captain’s Corn N’ Oil – all served alongside old chests, dusty skulls and maybe even the odd pile of gold…

Callooh Callay (& Candy Store), Shoreditch
CC’s Upstairs Bar features a rotating six-week pop-up that, for cocktail week, will be the Candy Store – focussing on whisky, cocktails and candy. And that’s why I imagine, save for in the invasion of a giant lizard, the place will be rather popular. Running until 2 November, the Candy Store will allow you to relive those fond Charlie and the Chocolate Factory memories, albeit really pissed. Think marshmallows, sherbet dib-dabs, jelly tots and probably some Paracetamol.

UKAI, Soho
Completely overlooked in my opinion, this Poland Street gem is actually supposedly more concerned with its sushi, but I’ve only ever drank excellent cocktails in there. Sit at the bar and ask the staff literally anything about cocktails and they will not only answer in kind, they will make you something rather special. While it doesn’t have the atmosphere of a dedicated cocktail venue, it’s also nowhere near as busy, and thus it might be somewhere you’ll want to keep just to yourself.

Opium, Chinatown
Somewhere between speakeasy and just a rather hard-to-find door, Chinatown can only be happy about this place, brought to you from mixology savant Dre Masso. Once you get in, head to the top floor and sit at the apothecary-like kitchen table. From there you will be poised for a heightening display of medicinal-themed vessels and potions that are very much the pinnacle of presentation. Yes, it’s expensive, but there are some cracking things to be sampled here.

Vinopolis, Borough
Famous to most for its wine, this Borough Market resident has been offering  a range of cocktail events in recent weeks. Although strictly speaking they are not hosting one during this week, you should pop along to try their cocktails anyway, and book up their next class, which will teach how to make spooky Halloween cocktails on the 31 October.

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Ma’Plucker, Soho
Myki Sand Bar, Soho
Murakami, Covent Garden
Kansas Smitty’s, Haggerston

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