This week is London Cocktail Week – seven days of workshops, tastings, pop-ups, and drink offers. There’s far too much going on to be able to sample everything, so my friends and I have decided to stick to the cocktail tours on the website. This is how we got on.
Kettners is a long-standing institution, famed for its champagne, food, and private hire facilities. Over the years Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, and Bing Crosby. On first glance, it is as decadent as it sounds, with plush velvet chairs and curtains, sweeping spiral staircases, and a gold bar. But after a few minutes, you start to notice that the walls have holes in them, the ceilings are unfinished, and the staff are equally as scruffy, if overattentive. The sponsored cocktail – made with Bloom Gin – was however a clever balance of sweet and tart, making for a good start to our experience. I’d probably come back here for dinner in the restaurant section, but here nothing more than an after-work drink.
The Arts Bar lives in one of London’s smaller, more indie theatres, and when we arrived was packed with people gearing up for a show. It appeared that the LCW offer was available to all patrons here, not just those with wristbands, and the venue was sponsored by the always delicious Grand Marnier for the week. Or perhaps almost always, as all of their sponsored cocktails tasted like cold, bitter fizz. The red wine punch may have been better warmed up, but as they were, served in paper cups, this was nothing short of an abomination unto France.
3). Cafe Pacifico
This was a last-minute addition to our schedule. A cheap and cheerful Mexican restaurant with several branches around the city, we were very pleasantly surprised by their offering. Cafe Pacifico knew how to get the best out of LCW, serving margheritas and mojitos with niche spirits – and proving that this was THE go-to place for a Mexican experience.
Acasual, artsy, wood-clad bar. I imagine that visiting during the daytime one might mistake this place for a coffee shop. Even when we arrived at 9pm, several people were still using the space to work. The sponsored cocktail here was an uninspiring cosmopolitan with gin and pomegranate juice replacing the vodka and cranberry juice. However their sliders ( at 3 for just under £10) were outstanding. Juicy, flavoursome, and just the right amount to soak up the alcohol without being too filling. I’d go here again on a lazy afternoon, but for coffee and nibbles instead of well-made cocktails.