For the second year in a row, Cocktails in the City came in for the weekend and swept the Hoodooist’s life into a tizzy. CitC’s Summer Edition brought 25 bars representing several spirit brands together under the sunny skies at Bedford Square Gardens where 2,000 Londoners came down over 2 days to try a whopping 7,724 cocktails!
Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend.
Here, we’re gonna look at the cocktails that impressed the Hoodooist most, as well as the best present stalls and experiences.
There was some serious competition this year for cocktails, and it was difficult to narrow it down, but the winners are certainly not a surprise, they’re fantastic bars as they are:
The Reverend JW Simpson (Click HERE for Review!) presented 4 seperate cocktails, but their star was the Reverse Vesper : Lillet Blanc Vermouth, Belvedere Vodka, a touch of grapefruit and gin at a ratio of 6:2:1 of vodka:gin:vermouth.
With the smooth crispness of the vodka, expect a heavily juniper cocktail, smooth enough for the vermouth’s flavours to come through. At a guess, it may have been City of London Distillery Gin (More on COLD Here), with the sweet tang of grapefruit.
With an outdoor set up of their basement bar, the Rev brought out a comfy seating space under the sun, with a beautiful crystal stand, and a ‘Be a Martini’ multisensory experience that left you a bit stirred. With the wonderful Jim Wrigley and Joaquin Smith behind the bar, you can only expect the perfect Martini.
Only a couple of months into their career and the Fu Manchu (Click HERE for Review) is already readying their new Winter menu – and CitC got a preview! Presenting The Deception of Fu Manchu : Rye whiskey, Campari, homemade Raspberry and Vanilla shrub, lemon, grenadine, topped with Tsingtao beer foam. Not sure what to expect, the cocktail sounded like it would be a bit all over the place, but surprised with it’s lively flavours.
The rye whiskey and Campari is exactly what the drink needed to balance the sweetness of the raspberry and vanilla shrub, and the beer foam has a powerful presence and effect of the palate of the cocktail (which, do not worry, tastes nothing like beer). The nose actually adds a refreshing tanginess to the experience, offsetting the raspberry and grenadine which manage the Campari, the rye whiskey maintaining a presence throughout the cocktail, ending neatly on the vanilla. If this is what their next menu will be like, I’m looking forward to it.
The stand itself may have been more suited to an indoor or nighttime event, with it’s deep reds and greens and golds. The host of ingredients were presented to the public alongside Tsingtao for those who’d rather have a beer, and customised fortune cookies containing a host of Fu Manchu vouchers, from a free cocktail to 20% off your bill! With their delightful barteam, this stall was another hit in the Hoodooist’s book.
Brixton’s experimental Shrub and Shutter took the Whitley Neill Gin brand from last year’s PKD Bar (thankfully, nobody is ever in the mood for the PKD’s surprisingly racist menu and decor shenanigans) and presented the the Honey I Shrunk the Kids : Whitley Neill Gin, Zuidam Honey Whiskey, honey syrup, lemon, lavender bitters.
The Bedford Square Gardens were perfect for this drink. Lavender and lime break in first, strengthened by the scent from the lavender garnish, and soon settle in with the honey that pairs so wonderfully with the warmer botanicals of the Whitley Neill. Tart to sweet, with hints of floral.
The Far East by Coq d’Argent was probably the most snapped cocktail of the day: U’luvka Vodka with kaffir lime leaves and chilli, sochu with green tea, lemon, agave nectar, decorated with coloured spices and an edible flower. This cocktail deserves all the recognition it got.
First, under the floral canopies of the beautiful stand, the drink seemed perfectly designed for the ‘Summer Edition’ of CitC. The cocktail strutted in with a rosey tartness of the kaffir lime leaves in the crystal crisp U’luvka, with background heavy weight of the sochu, lightened by the green tea’s herbaceousness (and something else…coriander?), ending on a sweet note, with a lingering heat of the chilli infusion (more of a Tabasco heat) and dance of warm spice from the garnish.
If this isn’t on their menu, it ought to be.
Recently opened City basement bar Demon, Wise and Partners swaggered in with their Extra Aged Demon : Evan Williams Extra Aged Whiskey, Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur, Demon, Wise and Partners Bitters. This cocktail just screams DWP, it is so reminiscent of their bar style, with focus on continental flavours less expressed here, bitter aniseed fascinations. Paired with cocoa dusted chocolate truffles, this bourbon muscles in with leather and brown sugar, accentuated by the chocolate, the absinthe liqueur kicking it down to size with some spice from the bitters. More of an indoor cocktail, but one we could relax with on the grass away from the crowd.
The Cocktail Trading Company (Click HERE for Review!), brought in the Blend It Like Peckham : Chambord, lemon sherbet, egg white, soda, milk. Served out of a slushie machine, the bright pink cocktail with it’s slurpy texture, obviously, had to be served in a shampoo bottle. Because why the hell not. The Major outdid themselves with a surprising drink, well balanced (even if you don’t have a sweet tooth) between the Chambord and lemon sherbet, and who knew how well soda and dairy work once put through a slushie machine?
Meanwhile, Loves Company (Click HERE for Review!), governed by the excellent Harry Gerakis, brought the beach to London; complete with sand, deckchairs, limbo competitions, ice creams and espresso martinis – now that’s one hell of a stand.
It wasn’t just about the cocktails as each bar created its own particular experience, with an honorable mention going to Barrio Bars – runner up to Loves Company, who put on a silent disco as well as inviting guests to get crafty and decorate tiles that will soon adorn the walls of their new opening in Brixton.
And that’s a wrap! After such a successful Summer Edition, the question is, what will Cocktails in the City be creating for their next exciting installment? God knows I can’t wait till the next CitC.