We were invited along to this event in exchange for a review. All opinions remain 100% honest and my own.
I work Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm in the City (more specifically, Shoreditch) and seemingly spend more of my waking hours there than at home, but, if Ben and I are planning ourselves a little ‘Date Day’ we always opt to hop on the train and spend the day in the Big Smoke regardless – we just can’t get enough of the place.
My ancestry is actually from Shoreditch and the surrounding areas of East London, so I have always felt a particular connection to the place. I quite often wander around, looking up at the old buildings and down the cobbled alleyways and wonder if my great-great-great relatives cast their eyes upon the same scenes.
Of course, these areas now are much different to how they would have been back then, and nowadays Shoreditch is considered one of the trendier parts of London (do people still say ‘trendy’?)
Recently, we spent a happy Saturday at London Cocktail Week’s pop-up area (‘The Village’) in Shoreditch’s Spitalfields Market. I hadn’t actually heard of London Cocktail Week before so I was a little unsure what it was going to be like, but we said we’d pop along and have a look and, if it was no good, we’d continue our day out with a wander round the streets of London and a bite to eat somewhere.
Upon arrival, we decided to do a quick lap of The Village to get our bearings and see what was on offer and, oh my goodness, were we surprised! With over 30 different bars, each focussing on one particular brand of drink or hotel chain, we were spoilt for choice and decided the best course of action was to start nearest the entrance and work our way round.
Our first stop was the Singapore ‘Passion Made Possible’ stand which was put in place by the Singapore tourist board. They have a selection of different cocktails you could choose from, all being put together by a handpicked selection of Mixologists that had been flown to London for the occasion. I opted for an Oh My Jasmine! which was a light, fruity drink combining whisky, lemon, green tea liquer, salted jasmine foam, jasmine syrup and matcha. Ben opted for the Milk Punch which combined rum, cream, nutmeg, milk, syrup and vanilla extract. Neither of them tasted particularly alcoholic, with the other elements balancing them out to make them soft, easy drinkers. I could definitely have stayed for a couple more, but we didn’t want to peak too soon, so we ventured off to explore the rest of the stalls.
Next on our list was the Tia Maria stand where we treated ourselves to a cheeky little Espresso Martini – the team working there were so much fun and genuinely looked like they were having a great day. I wrote about different Tia Maria cocktails you can make at home earlier this month, so take a peek at that for some boozy coffee based inspiration. I definitely find autumn and winter are perfect for coffee cocktails.
Third on our list was The Fairmont stand, the décor style of which is literal goals for me, being a beautiful combination of white, black, mirrored elements and copper. DREAMY.
I was all set for a peruse through the menu to see what they had to offer when my eyes fell on The Fairmont Old Fashioned, a twist on the original recipe as this includes a cheeky shot of rum as well as the standard whisky and OH MY, this was the best Old Fashioned I have ever had! I could literally have sacked off the rest of the showcases and spent the remainder of my day knocking these babies back, but Ben was having none of it – time to move on and explore further.
Next on the list was the stand that intrigued me the most – The House Of Peroni. I’ve heard great things about previous pop-ups of theirs but never having been to one I was interested to see what sort of cocktails they would be able to make out of a beer.
Believe it or not, I think – aside from the Old Fashioned – these were my favourite cocktails of the day! Both were easy to drink, being light and fruity, and there wasn’t even a slight taste of beer to either of them. In fact, my one tasted of lemon sherbet! I have been searching for the recipe of this online since but am yet to discover it. Probably safest that way though, or I’ll be knocking them up at home all the time!
Stepping outside of our comfort zone altogether, we nipped into the Patron stand to see if one of their concoctions could cure us both of our hatred of tequila. I honestly cannot stand the stuff and avoid it at all costs, but if you’re going to test your tastebuds with an ingredient you’re not too keen on, then going to a specialist is definitely the way to do it!
Sadly, we couldn’t be won over on this and despite our best efforts, these two glasses got left on the counter as we sidled off with our tails between our legs. Tequila is definitely a no for both of us.
Now, whilst trying out one of the harshest drinks for us, why not make a full set and attempt another questionable alcohol friend of ours – Jagermeister!
Always a drink that is rolled out towards the end of a night out, mixed in with some red bull and followed by me wondering why I always do this to myself, Jagermeister is not something I’ve ever considered making into a cocktail, but I’m prepared to admit I was wrong here! With elements of berry and burnt cinnamon, this was a really warming cocktail, ideal for parties in the winter months when some of the more fruity numbers seem out of place. Both Ben and I were really impressed by these and I feel pretty bad for seeing Jagermeister as a one trick pony all these years!
Our penultimate stop of the day was the Schweppe’s stall where we could choose from an array of different gin based cocktails. Ben went for a standard G&T (and very nice it was too) whereas I went for one with a touch of lemon and infused with a smoking stick (I’m sure there’s a better name for it than that, but that’s what it was, a stick that made smoke). This was so refreshing and it was interesting to find out that Schweppes are going to be bringing out a range of their mixers that are infused with other elements and flavours to make it easier to match them to your drink. So handy for having around the house and knocking up a quick bevvie when your friends pop round unexpectedly!
Our final stop of the night was the Monkey 47 stand. Often named as one of the best gins in the world, we decided from the get-go that this was a stall we were going to visit, partly because the gin is so nice, and partly because of how theatrical it was.
You picked up your gin from the staff who were on hand to help, then either went to the fairground for your sweet flavours to mix in (bubble gum, candy floss etc) or you visited the forest where you could get more fruity flavours.
The whole set-up was great fun and you could tell the novelty element of it was really making people smile; it was like a playground for adults and drinkers were spilling out of the space onto the main concourse because there were so many people trying to get in and have their go!
Overall, we had such a brilliant day at London Cocktail Week’s Village and we have already decided that we’ll be going again next year and taking all our friends. It is such a great way to experiment and try drinks you may not have branched out to before, and a really good way to work out what your preferences are in terms of cocktails.
We learned that tequila is not our friend, that I prefer sweet cocktails to those that are more fruit-flavoured, and that you can create delicious drinks out of even the most seemingly boring (beer) or risky (Jager) ingredients.
I can’t wait for next year, it’s definitely going to become an annual boozy pilgrimage for us!
* In Association with Brand *