Cocktails in the City 2016!

For it’s third year in a row, Cocktails in the City came in for the weekend 10th-12th March and knock out 1000s of cocktails for thirsty Londoners, this time at the majestic One Mayfair (Hogwarts with alcohol, basically) – Last year’s CitC 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!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

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 judging best cocktails, and best stalls – let’s give a hand to last year’s winners: Best Cocktail by Coq d’Argent, and best stand by Loves Company!

Now, let’s have a look at the best of the 2016!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

First up, the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another whisky contender that stole some attention was the Golden Square by last year’s winners, Coq d’Argent, and Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.

Mixing the scotch with Earl Grey syrup, fresh lemon juice, Old Time Bitters, bitter orange marmalade, topped up with Lachamte Hideyoshi sparkling sake, garnished with orange zest and edible orchid – the Golden Square is a light, refreshing drink, with an edge of whisky, and depth from the Earl Grey. The floral sake and marmalade is uplifting, and surprisingly soft. A well balanced drink for Spring if there ever was one.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another star came from the OXO Tower Bar with the Love Buzz: Patron Tequila, rose syrup, yuzu, and strawberry infused Cocchi Vermouth – silky and delicate. An initial hit of strawberry mellows to a light tequila tang and bright rose, ending with a pale citrus of yuzu.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Whiskey Ginger brought out recent release Pogues Irish Whiskey with the Irish Rover, including H by Hine Cognac, Orange bitters, Benedictine, caster sugar and mint: a light, bright whiskey cocktail with some herbal tartness. Next door, the Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar kicked out a much harder short whiskey and cognac cocktail with the Sunset Sazerac: Strawberry infused Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac, Coconut washed Rittenhouse Straight Rye, gomme, Peychaud and Pineapple bitters. In the face of powerful flavours like Rittenhouse and Trijol, many of the lighter ones drifted off – but still a fabulous cocktail for Sazerac fans (even without the absinthe!)

Cocktails in the city london 2016

68 and Boston surprised with a good cocktail: the Spirit of Adventure was a well balanced drink that didn’t overdo the sherry: Burleigh’s London Dry Gin, Amontillado sherry, apricot liqueur, hibiscus syrup and lemon juice created a fruity, citrus touched cocktail with a hint of dryness than would be a crowd-pleaser.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

We can’t leave without a hand to some amazing cocktails by our international visitors!

Little Red Door Paris brought in mystery cocktails – one powerfully Laphroaig was long and refreshing, but a short, perfumey cocktail of absinthe, Islay whisky and Chartreuse was also a clear winner.

Door 74 Amsterdam was spectacular with their Old Fashioned T&T: Woodford Reserve whiskey, Pekoe Ceylon tea liqueur infused with mandarin, orange and speculaas spices, maple syrup, and whiskey barrel aged bitters – a sweet Old Fashioned with kick and no shame in being both potent and flamboyant – garnished with a caramel pancake biscuit. Nom.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Honourable mentions include Dishoom and Lanique Rose Spirit bringing a Julepy retelling of scandal from the last Viceroy of India; while The Whip and Chase Vodka brings the Radler back into style. Reverend JW Simpson, as ever, bursts in with a double production with Sauvelle Vodka in a chaste vanilla Martini, and a sinfully spicy punch.

And that was only a small taste of what dominated in the cavernous halls of One Mayfair on 10th March! The Hoodooist still believes this is one of London’s top cocktail events of the year, and cannot wait for next.

Tickets for Cocktails in the City London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh can be bought at:

http://www.cocktailsinthecity.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016

Welcome to Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016!
Every Chinese New Year, for one week, the ‘white spirit’ takes over London to test London’s bartenders with a spirit the city isn’t that familiar with – and this beginning of the Year of the Monkey isn’t different.

From the 5th to 14th of Feb 2016: 9 venues across London, 9 different cocktails, 5 of which will be reviewed in this post. The Hoodooist and friends hit the road to tour the town for Baijiu deliciousness.

Chinese New Year

Firstly, Baijiu is an intriguing spirit, never quite becoming a permanent fixture in the London bar scene – something drinks giant Diageo is trying to change – with their signature Sichuan province ‘strong aroma’ Shui Jing Fang Baijiu. Made with sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat and corn, it ain’t called ‘strong aroma’ for nothing. Neat, the scent can be detected from a mile away, a flowery aromatic with hints of rice, it tastes surprisingly different, but surprisingly similar.

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Been called everything from ‘flowery’, ‘apricot’ to ‘burnt rice’ and ‘with a Maris otter barley length’, it is definitely an acquired taste. But the length and aftertaste’s similarities to scotch is undeniable. This is a smoky spirit for the harder-livered amongst us. A burnt, spicy start, with a long finish, Chinese proverbs state that it takes 300 shots to really appreciate Baijiu. The Hoodooist must admit, it’s acquired, but one he can see himself acquiring.

The perk of Baijiu Cocktail Week is seeing how various bars attempt to work with this strong, fickle spirit. Most of the cocktails this week do their best to mask the bitter-burnt flavours of the baijiu to focus on the flowery sweetness of the spirit.

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Demon, Wise, and Partner’s “600th Monkey”

Our first stop is at Demon, Wise, and Partners, in City. The 600th Monkey mixes Baijiu with Admiral Rodney rum, house Falernum, and the DWP shrub, made with honey vinegar, peanuts and vanilla pepper.

In typical DWP style, the cocktail is particularly dry and strong. Beginning with the burnt Baijiu flavour, the cocktail becomes very light with hints of vanilla, then a sudden hard punch of coffee. The finish seems to have hints of pepper, tropical fruit, and peanuts, finally with a long dry tingle. You really want to take your time with this drink, taking a big gulp will burn. The Hoodooist certainly enjoyed this drink, but it is one for specialised taste for the dry and bitter.

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68 and Boston’s “Pixiu”

The newly opened 68 & Boston gave us the Pixiu: Shui Jing Fang baijiu with Liquor 43, dark crème de cacao, Bob’s Chocolate Bitters, and strangely: Mount Gay Black Barrel rum. A salted caramel rim and chocolate pieces to garnish.

A beautifully presented cocktail – it looks gorgeous – the Pixiu makes the mistake of attempting to mask the Baijiu’s flavour instead of complementing or encouraging it. By going into the direction of chocolate sweetness, the Baijiu wars against the flavour of the cocktail.

Not going for citrus leaves a powerful clanging aroma of rum and baijiu on the nose, with a smooth caramel mouthfeel. The initial caramel from the rim is followed the by the cocktail’s noisy, infuriating mix of sweet, herbal, bitter, over-sugared, baccano of conflicting flavours. This unfortunate drink tastes like licking a bedsore. Ointment and all.

Feeling personally victimised by this drink, this is the Regina George of cocktails.

Bo Drake Soho

Bo Drake’s “Dragon’s Claw”

Next door, Bo Drake was crazy busy on a Friday. Their Dragon’s Claw was one of the more unique: Baijiu, agave nectar, elderflower, lemon and lime, hopped grapefruit bitters and lime zest – garnished with candied hibiscus and grapefruit slice.

The drink could best be described as mellowing the baijiu enough to drink it, while appreciating the entire range of flavours it presents when drunk neat – which is what made it unique through the day where other bars attempted to mask aspects of the drinks to suit the cocktail. The nectar and hopped grapefruit bitters contributed to a silkier mouthfeel. Surprisingly, one tasted the bitters more strongly than the elderflower (Thankfully, I think).

A great way to really get into Baijiu without throwing back a shot of it.

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Ping Pong’s “Dizzy Monkey”

The dim sum chain, Ping Pong, presents us with the Dizzy Monkey: Baijiu is mixed with Monkey Shoulder whisky, Hedonist cognac, triple sec, lemon juice, home-made spiced vanilla syrup, and shock inducing Electric Daisy flower rim.

This is one complicated cocktail. A friend and I had two completely different opinions on the drink, they loved the intense, very intense, citrus of the cocktail along with the powerful earthiness of the Baijiu – the Hoodooist however, could not comprehend the bizarre mix of flavours. This cocktail is targeting directly major citrus fans, the same way that the Demon, Wise, and Partners’ cocktail particularly targeted fans of dry, bitter cocktails.

The shocking tingle of the garnish was major fun though!

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The Hide’s “Darling Monkey Nutter”

Our final stop on the Baijiu Cocktail Week crawl is the Hide Bar, Bermondsey. Now, this was probably the best of the cocktails we’ve tried so far.

The Darling Monkey Nutter mixes Baijiu with a South African Chenin Blanc and monkey nut shrub made with peanuts, PX Sherry, and lemon thyme. A strange combo for sure, the nose is distinctly the burnt rice of the Baijiu, and towards the end slightly nutty and citrus. Upon the first sip, immediately you get the earthy flavour from the Baijiu, followed by a powerful citrus from the lemon thyme, the slight fruitiness of the wine, and finally a long, sweet, nutty finish.

This light, silky cocktail gets smokier as time goes on. With wonderful service from Emanuele and Francesco, the slightly sweet and earthy cocktail is definitely a treat you must enjoy this week.

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Get thyself an Uber.

Baijiu Cocktail Week is certainly one of the more enticing events of the London drinks scene, and it’s always good to see a spirit break through in London. Though an acquired taste neat, it probably is best drunk that way between courses of a tradition Chinese meal, since it’s use in cocktails is incredibly challenging.

However, the various bars did show how different aspects of the complex spirit can be highlighted with the right ingredients. Bo Drake showed us a palatable way for newbies to enjoy the entire spectrum of the spirit’s complexity. The Hide presented a soft, silky cocktail emphasising Baijiu’s sweeter flavours; whereas the Ping Pong had the burnt-bitter flavour balanced and softened with its citrus and herbal cousins.

Certainly a complex drink that demands further study in the London drink scene, I wish you all a fantastic Baijiu Cocktail Week and Happy Lunar New Year!

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016, London
5th – 14th February 

http://www.baijiucocktailweek.co.uk/

Angostura Rum Tasting @ Heddon St. Kitchen, Piccadilly

Gordon Ramsey’s Heddon Street Kitchen lounges over two floors of dark wood and low lighting – and the upper floor hosts a small choice of bar seats where a range of Angostura Rums were presented for tasting in the company of UK Angostura Ambassador, Sean Duprey.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
Easily the most popular of the exports from the Trinidadian House of Angostura is their range of rum-based bitters – the classic Angostura Bitters are easily the most recognisable aromatic bitters across the globe, and one can’t imagine even the the smallest or youngest of cocktail bars functioning without a good stock of the spicy secret concoction. More surprising are the other uses of the classic bitters: from helping with hangovers when dashed on lime the morning after, to glazes and cooking – something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Living in it’s brother’s shadow, the zesty Orange Bitters are always handy in a pinch for an Old Fashioned when out of Angostura Bitters.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

Onto the rums!

Vanilla and banana wafts in with the youngest of the HoA range: The Angostura Reserva spends three years in white oak barrels, the rum is charcoal filtered to remove any traces of colour to produce a creamy, clear rum that is best used in cocktails with it’s unobtrusive light flavours, and that neat it has a rather sharp bite.

Classic for a Daiquiri with a dash or two of Angostura Bitters to take the edge of the citrus.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 5 year brings in a bit of colour – a more demanding rum, the vanilla bursts into spices and oak, with cocoa hints in the warm finish.

You could certainly turn to sipping this rum, but personally, this is more fun for slightly more indulgent variations of the cocktails one would make for the previous Angostura Reserva.

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The black treacle nose really stands out in the Angostura 7 year rum! Sweeter that the last, dark chocolate bursts in with a bang, along with coffee and dark sugar flavours. Creamy and easy to sip, a long finish of toffee and custard lingers behind.

Richer and darker makes this a fitting after dinner rum.

 

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 1919 gets its name from the burning down of the Govt Rum Bond in 1932, only to find rum from 1919 filled in its remaining charred casks.

Ages in bourbon barrels, we find spicier and more tropical flavours, including something quite cola-like, along with the vanilla and powerful ginger. Allspice and vanilla/molasses finish is long on this one!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The Angostura 1824 moves around a lot – spending 12 years in charred oak casks, then blended and recasked for a much smoother, richer rum than the 1919.

Lending some tobacco to the vanilla and custard flavours makes this a fantastic rum to sip with a cigar on a cold day. Coats smoothly with a little bite and some good kick, this is one enjoyable rum!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

Finally, the Angostura No.1, Second Edition. The name might be a mouthful, but it’s worth it.

Each release of the Angostura No.1 spends some time in traditional American oak casks (the first 10, here) before being recasked into another cask that previously held another spirit – the second release of the No.1 is then filled into a once-used French oak Cognac cask for its final 6 years of aging – lending to it many nutty and dried fruit flavours associated with cognac. Each release will find the rum stored in a different spirits’ casks.

This is one hell of a beautiful rum. The nose is exuberant and floral, with hints of macadamia and vanilla. At first sip, the incredible smoothness of the rum coats the palate delicately, with bursts of fig and long finishes of dried fruit and vanilla.

An absolutely gorgeous limited edition drop.

Heddon cocktails

Here at Heddon Street Kitchen, Angostura displayed their incredible variety and versatility when it comes to producing this popular molasses spirit. With a pour for every occasion from light daytime sips to late night indulgent pours, serves can also come straight from a balloon glass with a cigar in the winter.

An excellent range of rums from the House of Angostura.

 

Thanks to,

Angostura Rum

http://www.angostura.com/

and,

Heddon St. Kitchen

3–9 Heddon St, Piccadilly
London W1B 4BE

https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/heddon-street-kitchen/

Aberlour Whisky Tasting @ Phonica Records, Soho

Soho’s Phonica Records has become bit of a liquor lover’s hotspot lately: earlier this month it hosted the LCW World Class Bar, and this week, home to multi-award-winning single malt whisky distillery, Aberlour.

How does whisky figure into Soho’s iconic vinyl store? Aberlour has worked with collector and restorer Bill Bollman to bring to Phonica one of the last two working early 20th Century Voice-O-Graphs!

A piece of living history, “The booth in question has been extensively restored by Bill, and the wood panelled sides and interior are steeped in history- like casks of whisky maturing in a warehouse.”

The vintage 1947 Voice-O-Graph is far more than simple novelty, or an archaic piece of recording history, but an item made from experience, the walls soaked with the memories of those who have used it.”

Booths once house in arcades and diners across the USA, the Voice-O-Graph records a minute long message in the booth to print recordings of everything from simple messages, toasts, birthday messages – to more poignant prayers and love sent to children at war overseas, with the most common war-recordings being of variations of ‘You Are My Sunshine’. History, memories both joyful and moving, emanated from the still functioning machinery that once were common in North American scenery.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Before we have a closer look at the Voice-O-Graph, Aberlour International Ambassador, Alex Robertson, and spirits writer, Neil Ridley, walk us through the Aberlour expressions that scored an impressive gold medal each at the International Spirits Challenge 2014.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

After a spectacularly crafted Old Fashioned, the tasting begins: a multisensory experience, Aberlour’s night at Phonica paired each whisky to vinyl tracks.

Beginning with the Aberlour 12 year (Double Cask Matured), a light, red apple nose opens to a palate of similar fruit along with classic toffee, followed by a wash of rich chocolate – ending with a warm cinnamon and ginger finish. A very Autumnal, fitting, dram this season.

After that delightful whisky, the 16 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was paired with the gorgeous vocals and choir of ‘Shine On’ by Tallulah Rendall. A creamier whisky, its nose is packed with raisins and even a floral character – a fantastic balance of the double wood casks. The palate is smoother than the 12 year, full with plum and raisin sherried flavours balanced against spicy, floral flavours.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Now the 18 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the 2014 International Wine and Spirit Competition) is a massive step up from the 16 year (for the Hoodooist anyway): A gorgeous nose of butterscotch, vanilla icecream, toffee and peaches. The palate opens with cream and stone fruit, and gradually unveils darker, heavier flavours with oak and leather, with a vein of honey running through – ending with a long, warm, sugared finish.

Not expecting that beautiful whisky to be outdone, one was surprised what a stunner the final Aberlour A’bunadh (double gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was, served along with the resonating voice of Johnny Cash. A classic sherry-heavy whisky, the Oloroso butts impart those orange and Xmas spices notes to the nose. The palate is indulgent, and wintery – dark chocolate, cherries, lots of dry fruit and warm spice. Being cask strength, the finish is powerful and lasting, bittersweet and spicy. A favourite. Adore this whisky.

Concluding the tasting, musician Johnny Flynn takes to the Voice-O-Graph to record an upcoming single, printed onto disc with the Voice-O-Graph’s distinct graininess and vintage nostalgia (a song I’m looking forward to hearing again).

Entering the Voice-O-Graph himself, the Hoodooist is overcome with a feeling of nostalgia for a time he’d never known himself (heavens, this sounds so pretentiously Lynch) – but the sense of everyone that had been in that booth, recording everything from a birthday song to a prayer to hear their son come back home from the war was overwhelming. Especially after hearing a message from a mother to dispatched son just moments earlier.

A unique, unmissable experience that recording on one’s phone cannot be compared to.

In a few moments, holding the recorded disc in one hand, and a brightly sherried Aberlour expression in the other, this was an experience he was glad to be a part of – and you can too!

The Voice-O-Graph has taken up residency at Phonica Records this October 2015, where consumers have the opportunity to enjoy a dram of Aberlour 12 Year Old as they record their experiences on the Voice-o-Graph instore at Phonica Records during the following times for as long as daily vinyl stocks last:

  • 22nd – 23rd & 29th – 30th October from 5pm -7pm
  • 24th & 31st October from 4pm – 6pm

Fruit, chocolate, spice in a dram, inside a piece of living history – this is an experience that absolutely cannot be missed this Autumn season. Enjoy what is #MadeFromExperience with the Voice-O-Graph and Aberlour Whisky this October at Phonica Records, Soho.

Your future vinyl-owning-self will thank you.

Phonica Records

51 Poland St, Soho,
London W1F 7LZ

http://www.phonicarecords.com/

TICKET GIVEAWAY! License to Escape with Octopus Inc!

Another giveaway, guys!

Need something exciting to do for the weekend?

Highball Hoodoo has just the exercise in villainy for you!

Working alongside Yelp! London, Highball Hoodoo has TWO tickets to giveaway for 16th October!

Escape Game Giveaway Win Octopus Inc

OCTOPUS Inc. (the Organised Consortium of Troublemakers and Other Perpetrators of Underhand Sneakiness Incorporated) are currently hiring new henchmen as part of a recruitment drive – and are looking for the best of the best – or should we say the worst of the worst – to join our team and cause chaos throughout the land.

Your acts of sneakiness have been noted and we are impressed with your audacity and cunning, but do not worry my villainous friends, your secrets are safe with us as long as you report to your prospective new Evil MasterMind in his underground lair for your six basic aptitude tests.

Six Rooms – Six Tests – You must escape them all to complete the mission within 30 minutes. There will also be an optional outdoor mission courtesy of CITY DASH should you wish to accept. Can you make it out in time? Or alive? We shall see.

Ultimate Respect and Prizes in store for the fastest teams of the night.

To WIN, all you have to do is follow Highball Hoodoo on Twitter at@HighballHoodoo and retweet this post:

And the winner will be announced on the 15th of October!

And that’s all you have to do for a chance to win VIP tickets to Octopus Inc.’s LICENSE TO ESCAPE!

Perhaps you can attend the training in your finest henchman attire. And be ready for anything. Things may get a little… dicey.

— EXTRA INFORMATION —

– Over 18’s only

– The game In total will take around 60 minutes to complete – you may need to wait for your time slot. They’ll be a free drink on arrival and bar area to hang out in with live leader board.

– They’ll be music, indoor and outdoor games as well as a cash bar, plus drinks from Double Dutch Drinks.

– At least one of your team will need a fully charged smart phone with the Yelp App for parts of the evening. If you don’t have it, make sure to download it now.

Best of luck, Tweeters!

Tequila Fest 2015 Preview @ Barrio East

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2015 is not an event to be missed

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Barrio East, Shoreditch (keep an eye out for their next Brixton opening, Barrio South), the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with their Silver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Barrio East was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at Old Spitalfield Market is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

Cocktails in the City 2015 – Summer Edition, London

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:

Cocktails in the City London

The Rev JW Simpson’s ‘Reverse Vesper’

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.

Cocktails in the City London

Fu Manchu Bar’s ‘The Deception of Fu Manchu’

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.

 

Cocktails in the City London

Shrub and Shutter’s ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’

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.

 

Cocktails in the City London

Coq d’Argent’s ‘Far East’

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.

Cocktails in the City London

Demon, Wise and Partner’s ‘Extra Aged Demon’

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.

Cocktails in the City London

The Cocktail Trading Company’s ‘Blend It Like Peckham’

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?

 

Cocktails in the City London

Loves Company knows how to put a show

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.

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