Last week was very busy for The Gypsy Chef as London Cocktail Week pulled into town. I was lucky enough to be site manager for one of the most exciting and extravagant parties I have ever had the honour to be involved with, the London Cocktail Week Launch Party with Bacardi.
The event had been in development for months, and finally on the Sunday before LCW, the build started. Working with some of the top bars in London, Create Cocktails and Bacardi, was an absolute pleasure and great lesson in event planning and management. Setting up was hard work that went on long into the night, but the finished result was mind blowing.
The space at The Seven Dials Club was occupied by pop up versions of four top bars from London that Bacardi had chosen to represent London cocktail culture.
American Bar at The Savoy
The first space was filled with a small mobile version of The American Bar, replicating the style and elegance of 1930s Art Deco. A true sight to be seen. The drinks were classic, the music classic, the tenders classic and the soft crushed velvet decor rounded off the atmosphere perfectly.
One cocktail that stood out for me was the ‘Hanky Panky’. An amazingly simple cocktail that has that has been at The American Bar for over 100 years. What separates this cocktail from a basic sweet martini is the use of an aromatic bitters named Fernet Branca which is rumoured to have ingredients such as Codeine, Wormwood and St John’s Wort! It was invented by Ada Coleman for the actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, who was mentor to Noel Coward and onetime manager of the Globe Theatre no less. It was said by Ada herself that Hawtrey was a very good judge of cocktails, and so she went to town creating this for him. When he tasted it he said ‘By jove, that is the real hanky panky’.
Beard To Tail
I only have one word to say about this amazing pop up version of the East London bar Beard To Tail. Wow!
Beard To Tail is a new kid on the block but that does not stop them being top of their game. It is run by the guys from Callooh Callay who have moved into the restaurant biz. They have a great chef in Dan Trippleton, they have combined the idea of meat eating with great drinks including, of course, innovative cocktails. Personally, I cannot think of anything better.
The design team from Create did wonders with the space, transforming it into a really cool wood, brick and hessian vision, and completed by the inspired soundtrack chosen by Bar Manager Andrea Montague. The cocktails on offer at the event were solid and strong, no nonsense flavours to cut through all the meaty goodness they were serving from the kitchen.
My favorite drink at this bar was the already renowned ‘Beard To Tail Julep’. A combination of Apricot liqueur and their homemade Peach and Cinnamon Jam, this Julep was something to savor. Just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was given a lovely cube of slow roasted pork belly with a great apple sauce and topped with a crispy sage leaf. The two together were simply heaven.
I was blown away by the combination of drinks and food Beard To Tail had on offer. I am, after all said and done, a chef, so they were always going to appeal to my palate.
In sharp contrast to BTT was the space filled by Trailer Happiness. This is a bar well known for its eccentric vibe that combines a low rent 60s living room with the coolest designs and images from the mid twentieth century, all with a tiki twist. The temporary version was an amazing space where on one side of the room there were some groovy chicks dancing behind frosted screens and on the other an amazing collection of antique books and vintage tiki heads
In terms of drinks, this bar is really pushing things forward with infusions and deconstructions. One that caught my eye was the ‘Billion Dollar Brain’. A deconstructed Miami Vice that included a clarified pina colada and a pink sack of strawberry daiquiri sitting in the middle. Inventive and delightful all at once.
London Cocktail Club
And so through another set of doors into the last and most crazy space. The LCC is the brainchild of JJ Goodman and his business partner James Hopkins. The concept is a relaxed fun English atmosphere with great cocktails. They serve some of the most amazing food orientated drinks such as Cheese and Pineapple Martini. Sounds crazy, but it is delicious. Something should also be said of the Head Barman Andy Mil, who recently won the food matching section in the World Class Global Competition. They have just opened their third site and are going from strength to strength, and it is no surprise with a team of this caliber behind the venture.
They chose to go for the fun factor at the launch party and went to the fair for the day. There were freaky clowns, apple bobbing, candyfloss and a large, ornate fountain in the middle of the bar filled with punch and rubber ducks. Great fun and amazing cocktails really topped the night off. And with the Boys behind the bar having as much fun as everyone else, it really made this space feel like the club after the cocktail bars.
My favorite drink at this bar was, partly due to it’s imaginative recipe and also it amazingly smooth taste, the Goldfish Punch. Yes you guessed it – it was served in a plastic see-through bag with an edible goldfish in the bottom. Such great fun!
A massive round of applause must go to the people at London Cocktail Week, Bacardi and Create Cocktails for putting on the most amazing launch party. I think that the quality of the brands and the drinks on offer just goes to show why London has the most vibrant and innovative cocktail culture in the world.
Come back tomorrow for the second installment of The Gypsy Chef @ London Cocktail Week.
Photos by London Cocktail Week