London celebrates with World Gin Day cocktails
Unless you were living under a rock in June, you’ll have seen that this year’s World Gin Day celebrations were bigger and ginnier than ever before.
All over the world, brands and bars hosted gin lovers at gin tastings, gin festivals and even gin-paired dinners.
London saw the first ever official festival to celebrate the tenth year of World Gin Day, in collaboration with DrinkUp.London, who you may know as the brains behind London Cocktail Week, London Wine Week and London Beer Week!
Over 2,500 people picked up festival passes to enjoy £6 cocktails in over 100 venues across the city, along with events in some of London’s top cocktail bars. With some incredible cocktails being dreamt up to celebrate, we thought it would be a great chance to round up some of our favourites…
Scapegrace Gin worked with five fantastic bars to create some stand out serves. In Shoreditch you had a Sake Punch at The Cocktail Trading Company, a venue that excels at combining interesting flavours and unusual serving vessels to create dangerously drinkable cocktails that are a huge amount of fun.
In contrast and just down the road, Scout focused on locally foraged ingredients and their zero-waste ethos with the Raining Daisies, a cocktail that featured local honey and an oleo-saccharum made from cucumber skins – where the oils from the skins combine with sugar, to give it its unique flavour.
The Shrub and Shutter in Brixton created the Thai Salad Collins and served it alongside brunch at their sister venue, First Aid Box. The cocktail mixed Scapegrace Gin with a ginger, coriander and chilli shrub, peanut sugar, pickled ginger and soda. For fans of the Red Snapper (a gin based Bloody Mary) this cocktail showed that savoury cocktails really do deserve their time in the sun.
Scottish gin, The Botanist worked with Scottish restaurant, Mac & Wild to create the ultimate Red Snapper, featuring a healthy dose of their gin alongside tomato juice and the Mac & Wild signature Bloody Mary Mix. It was served topped with a deep-fried haggis pop and pickle, because every cocktail is improved with the addition of a snack disguised as a garnish!
Across town at Demon, Wise and Partners, the Betty Fly looked to the Scottish Highlands, pairing the gin with a bar spoon of whisky, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, honey and lavender syrup and a small pinch of sea salt.
BEEFEATER, BEEFEATER 24 AND BEEFEATER PINK
As well as a 24hr party in their bar in collaboration with Beefeater 24, The Hide in London Bridge served up a Grapefruit Negroni, served on draught!
The secret ingredient alongside the usual gin Beefeater 24, Campari and Sweet Vermouth was clarified grapefruit juice, which added delightful grapefruit notes without turning the drink cloudy.
Beefeater Gin also worked with The Ten Bells to twist up a White Lady cocktail by substituting triple sec for an Earl Grey tea syrup, alongside their classic London Dry, and showcased their new pink gin in the Raspberry Vision at Ekovision in Tooting, serving it with elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, raspberries and ginger beer.
While classic drinks pairings for seafood tend to be white wines or champagnes, there’s an increasingly brilliant trend emerging around gin and seafood – oysters in particular. For World Gin Day, Citadelle Gin worked with Blixen and Bar Three in Spitalfields, pairing a classic G&T, served in a Spanish-style Copa glass, with an oyster garnish. The saltiness of the oysters alongside a crisp gin and tonic is one of my favourite pairings to emerge recently and if Citadelle’s events over the week were anything to go by, a lot of people agree with me!
TANQUERAY AND TANQUERAY SEVILLA
All the way up at level 33 of The Shard, up-market Chinese restaurant Hutong were offering a Make a Wish cocktail featuring Tanqueray Gin, Kamm and Sons Ginseng Liqueur, Pomelo grapefruit, vanilla syrup and lime. Interesting thing to note about grapefruit and vanilla – when you combine them together (depending on grapefruit variety) they actually taste like chocolate. It’s called a flavour transmogrification and blew my mind the first time I experienced it. Something to keep up your sleeve for those friends intolerant to dairy, perhaps?
The Bourne and Hollingsworth venues were showcasing the brand-new-to-the-market Tanqueray Sevilla Gin in the form of the Sevilla Spritz. A simple cocktail that is more than the sum of its parts, the beauty of this one was that there are no home-made ingredients, so if you’ve got a well-stocked liquor cabinet you can try it at home, or give the recipe to a bartender behind any decent cocktail bar and try it for yourself (on page 55).
The lobby bar at the hipster Ace Hotel in Shoreditch partnered with classic London gin No.3, to serve the 3six7, combining the St James gin with sweet vermouth, King’s Ginger liqueur, bitters and orange oil.
Adding a touch of the east, Opium in China Town mixed an aloe vera and rhubarb cordial with Kyro’s Napue Gin, before smoking the entire cocktail with apple wood. The combination of theatre and the simplicity of the ingredients created something that was so much more than the sum of its parts.
Oslo Distillery partnered with The Napoleon Hotel to take over all three bars in their venue, switching head bartenders between the sherry focussed Sack, whisky focused Black Rock and cocktail bar Devil’s Darling and arming them with plenty of Vidda gin! Their special cocktail available all week long was the Oslo Calling, combining Vidda Gin with lemon juice, orange bitters and the distillery’s Blank Akevitt, a traditional, but unaged, akevitt.
Over the course of the London Festival, hundreds of these wonderful serves were passed across the bar for just £6, a great way to discover new gins and new venues across the city. I had an absolute blast travelling across the city to try them, and I can’t wait to see which bars and brands sign up for next year’s festival dedicated to all things GIN!
THE SEVILLA SPRITZ
• 30ml Tanqueray Sevilla Gin
• 20ml Aperol
• 10ml Rhubarb liqueur (or syrup/cordial etc)
• 10ml Lemon juice
• 10ml Orange juice
• 5ml Campari*
• Top Bubbles (prosecco or champagne, depending on your budget!)
Add all measured ingredients into a copa glass or large wine goblet filled with ice. Top with bubbles and garnish with an orange twist.
* The Campari is optional, you can add 25 ml Aperol rather than 20ml, if you leave it out the colour of the final drink will just be more orange than red.