London Cocktail Week is back! It’s a mainstay on the London drinking calendar. A blocked-out period of time with no exceptions and no meetings on the schedule. It finds Secret London’s writers wandering the streets of London for ‘just one more’ £8 cocktail. London Cocktail Week is a veritable drinking institution – if a week-and-a-bit-long event can lay claim to such a title. And it’s back for 2023, from October 12 – 22.
While previous iterations have grown the event to a full month of offers (due to lockdown and restrictions) this year it’s back to the short but sweet 11-day-long celebration. Frankly, we’re not sure our livers could handle much more! So with less time to spare, and plenty of bars to hit up, you’ll need a plan of attack. And that’s where we come in. Allow us to take you by the hand and escort you from bar to bar, and event to event, with this guide to London Cocktail Week.
Table Of Contents
- The need-to-know
- Top Five Recommendations
- North London
- East London
- West London
- South London
- Central London
- Non-alcoholic options
- Best places for a group at London Cocktail Week
- The prettiest places to drink for London Cocktail Week
- Don’t miss events at London Cocktail Week
- One-Night-Only Events At London Cocktail Week
- The ‘Connoisseur’s Collection’
London Cocktail Week finds hundreds of London’s best bars serving cut-price specialty cocktails (a measly £8 a pop) for those who have purchased a wristband. Billed as “the biggest cocktail festival in the world”, the event also sees pop-ups, bar takeovers, masterclasses, and plenty of parties. Stretched across two weekends, it’s a city-wide celebration of cocktails, with something on offer no matter your cocktail of choice or preferred drinking environment.
Just £15 nets you a wristband, and with London’s cocktail prices sometimes reaching that high anyway, the savings will have more than paid for your ticket by the time you order your third drink. And if you band together and get your friends involved, a bulk purchase of six wristbands can be made for the price of five. That means one of you gets a free wristband!
Not sure if your favourite cocktail bar is taking part? Look them up on the list, and find all the details. You can also search by area or bar type, and even narrow in on the spirit making up the special £8 cocktail.
Top Five Recommendations
If you’re after the absolute top things to do for London Cocktail Week here are the top five absolute must-drink cocktails and must-visit bars and events.
- Umbrella Workshop: This teensy East London bar isn’t content with just offering up one smashing cocktail. Instead, they’ve teamed up with some of the best bars in East London to serve up their top hits all in one place. Head here and you can order the iconic Pastel from A Bar With Shapes for a Name or Three Sheets’ revered Mole Margarita, and more.
- The Three Martini Lunch at LUCA: Altamura Distilleries have teamed up with Michelin-starred Italian restaurant LUCA to revive the Three Martini Lunch. With an offering of three different martinis guests can sample them all with a flight of mini martinis, or order them individually at the bar and in the restaurant.
- Coupette and Grand Marnier’s Global Bar Takeovers: Throughout the week Coupette will play host to seven takeovers from some of the best bars in the world. We’re talking bars from Washington DC, Rome, Brussels, Stockholm, and beyond.
- Renais Gin Trinity & Michelin-starred Bread Basket Pairing: Enjoy three specialty cocktails, each paired with freshly baked bread from a Michelin Master Baker. You’ll never look at bread, or gin, the same way again.
- Seed Library And Moët & Chandon – Closing Party: Don’t miss the chance to finish things off with a bang at Seed Library where bartenders from three world-class bars will be serving up their own special champagne cocktails.
If you’re up North London way we reckon you’ll definitely want to check out the cocktail specials at these bars. Think neighbourhood haunts, experimental joints, and tiki affairs.
- Little Mercies – Banoffee: Close your eyes and you’ll forget that it’s actually a cocktail with its blend of multiple rums, banana, koji, hazelnut, and more. Truly a mind-bending drink.
- 69 Colebrooke Row – Prairie Oyster: Can the birthplace of modern mixology make the classic hangover cure delicious? Yes, and stunning to look at too for that matter.
- Little Bat – Irish Fizz Punch: Jameson Black Barrel Irish whiskey, lemon juice, milk, sugar syrup, ginger juice, and ginger ale come together at this neighbourhood bar that’ll have you considering moving into the area. If you’re not already lucky enough to live nearby…
- Homeboy Islington – Corrib Collins: Settle in for some Irish hospitality and sip on a drink with apple and fig sherbet (oh, and Jameson Black Barrel whiskey, Off the Cuffe aqua vitae, and soda water).
- Laki Kane – Kakawa: What do you get when you mix rum, coffee, agave, Greek yoghurt, purple dragon fruit, and white creme de cacao? This cracking drink.
Headed out East London way? Make sure to check out these London Cocktail Week specials in bars tucked away inside converted jails, as well as world-class drinking destinations.
- Satan’s Whiskers – Yuzu Tommy’s: A classic Tommy’s margarita is given a slight twist with the addition of yuzu, made perfectly by a world-class bar team (the best in the UK!)
- The Last Tuesday Society – Lady of Gold: Head to this absinthe bar/museum of curiosities for this absinthe-and-rum-fuelled sipper with mango nectar, lime juice and spiced orange ginger ale.
- The Sun Tavern – Brooklyn: Courtesy of the team behind Barcelona bar FOCO, this drink mixes up scotch whisky and bourbon with Martini Rubino, amaretto, mulled cherry wine cordial, maraschino, and apple. Oh, and you can even buy it online to drink at home!
- The Rooftop At One Hundred Shoreditch – Shoreditch Sundowner: Take a sip of the gorgeous colours that dapple London’s sky at sundown with this concoction of tequila, Cointreau, agave, lime juice and blood orange soda.
- TT Liquor: Cellar Bar & Roof Terrace – M.A.A.D City: Hennessy VS Cognac, Orgeat, peach syrup, lemon juice, peach bitters, Angostura bitters, and Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer combine in this Kendrick Lamar-nodding drink.
Our pick of the West London bars to not miss during London Cocktail Week includes speakeasies based on Chicago gangsters, award-winning tiki venues, and places full of equestrian oddities.
- Barts – The Earl of Honey: The classic Bee’s Knees cocktail gets a tea-wist with a mix of Woodford Reserve Bourbon whiskey, limoncello liqueur, honey syrup, Earl Grey tea and lemon juice. If you make a reservation, be sure to memorise the password that you receive for reasons that will become very clear upon arrival.
- Trailer Happiness – Caña Cooler: Flor De Caña 12yo rum, tangerine sherbert, lime juice, yuzu puree, and coconut water combine at this award-winning tiki spot for a bright taste of the tropics.
- Stables Bar At The Milestone Hotel – Roses & Leather: We’ve got three words for you, “leather infused cordial”. Who can resist ordering that?
- Chet’s At The Hoxton, Shepherd’s Bush – Cranberry Fall: The Thai and American fusion food from Chet’s is perfectly complemented by this mix of Bombay Sapphire gin, cranberry purée, lemon juice, and sparkling wine.
- Viajante87 – Negroni Morada: This seductive subterranean agave lair is putting *checks notes* purple potato into their negroni. Well that we have to try!
We won’t make any jokes about South London (for once) as we can’t really argue with the quality coming out of these South London bars. During London Cocktail Week your best choices range from South London legends of the cocktail scene to French wine bars and hidden gin parlours.
- The Distillery at Hilton London Bankside – Spice Bubble Tea: It may be debatable whether or not it’s in South London (it’s south of the river!), but what’s not debatable is the must-try nature of the wonderfully playful mix of spiced rum, homemade tea liqueur, spiced syrup, and homemade tapioca pearls.
- Funkidory – Latino Americo: A Paloma gets an unexpected twist thanks to the addition of Sipello Aperitif.
- Bottle and Rye – Orange Blossom Martini: The addition of orange blossom water and prosecco cordial to a standard martini spec makes for something transformative. With gin, naturally.
- Two Spoons – Oak of Honor: Head to this paired-back neighbourhood favourite for a surprising mix of Engine gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, Pedro Ximenez nectar, Benedictine D.O.M liqueur and Liquorice bitters. It’s a negroni, but also… not?
- Two One Four – Jasmine Collins: Light and delicate, this mix of Oxley gin, Muyu Jasmine verte, Jasmine syrup, jasmine sour, and soda water is sure to surprise.
At the middle of it all is an absolute plethora of Central London bars to choose from, ranging from 19th-century ticket halls to Brazilian steak restaurants – no, really!
- Nightjar – La Mariposa: A truly special mixture that brings together tequila, Italicus, Vida del Maguey Espadin, Peruvian marigold, tonka & agave syrup and grapefruit juice.
- Fazenda – Chimichurri Paloma: The new London restaurant debuts in London Cocktail Week with this herbaceous take on the classic tequila and grapefruit cocktail.
- NoMad London – Warbler: Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Muyu Jasmine liqueur, agave, lime juice, cantaloupe juice and soda water make for the kind of drink I’ll want to sip on all night long.
- Booking Office 1869 – 1869 Vida: This all-day drinking and dining destination is offering up a slightly smokey margarita riff with Del Maguey Mezcal, lemon juice, bitters, sugar syrup, maraschino liqueur, and orange liqueur.
- Sabine Rooftop Bar – Bloody Volcan X.A: Is it a bloody mary? Eh, not really, but the mix of tequila, clarified tomato juice, Ancho Reyes verde, and citric solution will cure hangovers in much the same way (or cause them!).
The folks behind London Cocktail Week understand that not everyone may be drinking alcohol, but may still want to participate in the cocktail fun. Whatever your reason for not drinking, you’re still catered for, with many participating bars also offering a special £6 non-alcoholic serve throughout the festival.
We’re particularly intrigued by the following:
- Lucy Wong – Panoma: The much-loved drink gets a tonic water and jasmine twist in this N/A version.
- Thirst Bar Soho – The Long Con: This sour-style mocktail makes use of grapefruit juice, lemon juice, egg white (vegan option available), hibiscus syrup, and bitter lemon.
- Apples & Pears – Blackberry & Elderflower Fizz: With this refreshing mix of bramble jam, elderflower cordial, lime juice, and ginger ale, you’ll hardly be jealous of the Pumpkin Pie Martini that everyone else is sipping on.
- Christina’s Bar At Mondrian Shoreditch – Rooibos And Honey: This mix of Everleaf Mountain, rooibos syrup, honey syrup, Verjus, and burnt lemon soda is sure to be a hit with everyone!
Best places for a group at London Cocktail Week
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and since some of London’s most fun bars for big groups are getting in on the London Cocktail Week action, why go elsewhere with your bevy of mates?
Barrio’s Shoreditch outpost is offering up the ultra-moreish Old Cuban with Bacardi Caribbean Spice rum, lime juice, sugar syrup, Spumante and mint leaves. (And all the Barrio party vibes of course!)
Other perfect group-going destinations include Callooh Callay Chelsea (with a spicy-sweet-tropical Wild Wild South West) and Mrs Fogg’s Dockside Drinkery & Distillery (for a peach stones-infused Peach Me Up).
Otherwise, you also can’t go wrong at Shaftesbury Avenue’s The Cocktail Club, where your whole group can enjoy the Airmail – Santa Teresa 1796 rum, lime juice, honey syrup, orange juice, Prosecco, and a dash of Angostura bitters.
Well, we have to start things off by recommending you go to Sketch, don’t we? Their Glade and Parlour bars are serving up bright delights like the Discoball (Herradura Plata tequila, Cointreau, citrus, and lemongrass & ginger cordial) and The Stage (Khoosh bitter liqueur, Riesling vermouth, and soda water) in unparalleled surroundings.
For even more picture-perfect drinking, check out The Coral Room At The Bloomsbury Hotel and sip on a Warrior King cocktail in the perfectly pink (okay, coral!) environs. Alternatively, for a full-on taste of glamour, head to The Baccarat Bar for their Pepper Berry Club cocktail in the ultra-seductive and sophisticated space.
Don’t miss events at London Cocktail Week
There’s so much happening at London Cocktail Week, but we reckon these are the ultimate can’t-miss events and takeovers. Don’t wait too long to snap up your place or you’ll be disappointed when they sell out or book up!
- Gin Mare Med Transfers: Guests are ferried around London from bar to bar in a VW camper can in this gin-drinking experience to try out three food and cocktail pairings at three separate venues. (October 17 & 18)
- Brugal 1888 Rum & Craft Candle Making With Yougi: Get crafty during London Cocktail Week with the beginner-friendly events where rum-drinking and candle-making combine in delicious fashion. (October 17 & 18)
- Ki No Bi Gin Masterclass: Step out of London and into a Kyoto inspired sanctuary as part of this masterclass exploring Japan’s first craft gin, Ki No Bi. (October 17 & 18)
- Hennessy Masterclass at TT Liquor: Head to this multi-storey, multi-format bar/spirits shop/converted jail for a masterclass tasting session of all things Hennessy. (October 18 – 20)
- Jameson Black Barrel Meets 40FT Brewery: Take a (very brief) break from the cocktails (sort of) by drinking both beer and cocktails. A welcome cocktail is followed by beer and whiskey tastings with food from the incredible team behind the neighbouring ACME Fire Cult. (October 19-21)
One-Night-Only Events At London Cocktail Week
You definitely won’t want to miss these one-night-only events, where you can learn something new, do something new, or try something new. And drink cocktails, naturally.
- London Cocktail Week opening party: Möet & Chandon kick off London Cocktail Week at Artesian with a special selection of Moët cocktails and a champagne cocktail masterclass.
- Marian Beke at Nightjar Carnaby: Beke returns to the bar that he helped open for one night only (October 16) to mix up some extra-special Ardbeg cocktails.
- FOCO x The Sun Tavern: The East London bar gets taken over by Barcelona (FOCO) on October 19 to celebrate their collaboration specialty cocktail. There will even be free sandwiches from Hackney sandwich kings Dom’s Subs!
- Discount Suit Company’s Disco-themed London Cocktail Week Party with Angel’s Envy Bourbon: On October 12 this hidden cocktail bar will transform into a Studio 54 disco paradise with disco balls, disco hits, and plenty of bourbon-based cocktails. Try the Averall Dalton, which blends the worlds of beer and cocktails with Angel Envy bourbon, cranberry, peach wine, galaxy hops, and club soda.
- Discarded Disco: The folks behind last year’s ‘the world’s most rubbish bar’, Discarded Spirits, are back to celebrate the recycled fashion with their ultimate disco trash-un, and zero-waste cocktails.
The ‘Connoisseur’s Collection’
New for 2023 is a series of ultra-luxe events for truly passionate cocktail fans. These will take place in some of the city’s most award-winning and revered bars, with unique experiences that may never take place again. Here are just a few of the most over-the-top cocktail experiences that money can buy during London Cocktail Week.
- The American Bar at The Savoy – Vintage Daiquiris: Try out an authentic vintage Bacardi daiquiri made with rum from the 1970s! Paired with a modern-day example, drinkers will get to taste the difference side by side. (£40 pp, available throughout the festival while supplies last)
- The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy – Martinis & Caviar Bumps: The clue is in the title; guests can enjoy a martini paired with a 5g caviar “bump” served right on their hand. (£25 per person, available throughout the festival)
- Sexy Fish – Top Shelf Whisky Tasting: Splash out an eye-watering amount of cash and you’ll be able to enjoy a guided tasting of bottles from Sexy Fish’s extremely precious collection of rare whisky. (£335 per person, October 16)
- The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental – Special Omakase: The ethos behind an omakase experience applied to cocktail making, hosted by the originator of cocktail omakase experiences, The Aubrey’s Bar Director Pietro Rizzo. (£198 per person, October 12 & 13)
So there you have it. Go forth and imbibe (remember to drink responsibly!) and be sure to be extra courteous and kind to your bartenders. They’re likely to be experiencing far higher numbers of customers and orders than usual. Be kind, and stand out, and you may just find the wait for your next cocktail getting much shorter. Cheers!