London Cocktail Week Kicks Off This Week, And We’ve Got All The Best Recs

It’s a mainstay on the London drinking calendar. A blocked out week with no exceptions on the schedule that finds Secret London writers wandering the streets of London for ‘just one more’ £7 cocktail. London Cocktail Week is a veritable drinking institution, if a week-long event can lay claim to such a title. And 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 and sweet just-over-a-week duration. So with less time to spare, and even more bars to hit up, you’ll need a plan of attack. And that’s where we come in. Feast your eyes on this little beauty of a guide to London Cocktail Week.

The need-to-know

London Cocktail Week runs from October 13-23, and finds 350 of London’s best bars offering up cut-price cocktails (a measly £7 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, plenty of parties, and even full on cocktail villages. 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 all but paid for your ticket by the time you order your third drink! And if you want to get all your friends involved too, a bulk purchase of six wristbands will find one of them coming absolutely free.

Not sure if your favourite cocktail bar is taking part? Look them up on the website, and find all the details. You can also search by area, bar type, or narrow in on the liqueur making up the special £7 cocktail.

The London Cocktail Week Little Cocktail Villages

Try saying that three time fast! The Little Cocktail Villages, of which there will be four, will pop up during the festival around London. They’ll be free to enter, and of course cocktails will available for only £7 for wristband-holders. (Or is it wristband-wearers? Wristband wristers? Wristband-ers?) They’ll also be ideally located for easy access to plenty more participating venues, so they’re the perfect place to start a night of cocktail celebration. The Little Cocktail Villages will pop up in Belgravia, Borough Yards, Covent Garden, and Devonshire Square.

East London

Headed out East London way? Make sure to check out these London Cocktail Week specials in bars tucked away inside Mac repair shops, housed in distilleries, and ranking in the World’s 50 Best Bars.

The interior of Coupette, one of the bars participating in London Cocktail Week
Credit: Coupette
  • The Natural Philosopher –  Peach Tartin: a gorgeously autumnal mix of G’vine Gin, June Peach and Summer Fruits Liqueur, Supasawa, and Peach & Oat Cordial. And they garnish it with Peach Crumble. Delicious madness.
  • Coupette – 2 special cocktails are on offer. The Grand Royal Club: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge mixes with aged rum, banana & tonka cordial and lime juice, before being topped with Champagne. The Margarita Vs Paloma: A mix of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, coconut tequila, lime, sugar syrup, and pink grapefruit soda. You can’t go wrong either way!
  • The Umbrella Workshop Disco 2000: They’re mixing up Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, tempus fugit crème de banane, melonade, pineapple juice, and coconut for a tropical delight alongside can’t-miss creations during bar takeovers from Peckham legends Funkidory (October 11-16), and raved-about Dalston neighbours Three Sheets ( October 18-23).
  • Satan’s WhiskersCoconut Margarita: a simple sounding blend of Patron Silver Tequila, lime juice and double coconut is sure to be anything but at this internationally-renowned bar.
  • East London Liquor Co.Whisky Your Way: fill out a recipe card by circling all your favourite ingredients and build your whisky cocktail the way you want to drink it.

West London

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.

a vast selection of spirits on shelving above glases, with a stuffed animal in the middle of it all, from Little Yellow Door - one of the London Cocktail Week bars
Credit: Little Yellow Door
  • Barts Call Me Madame: a citrus-led twist on a Negroni is on offer at this hidden-away Chelsea bar. If you make a reservation, be sure to memorize the password that you receive for reasons that will become very clear upon arrival.
  • The Little Yellow DoorA Winter’s Tale: a mix of gins, sloe and pink peppecorn cordial, and citrus is topped with light tonic water and a sugar, salt and pink peppercorn rim. Bright, fruity, but subtly complex, it’s a perfect sipper at Notting Hill’s favourite house party venue.
  • Trailer HappinessCoco Club: La Hechicera Banana-Infused Columbian Rum, buttered coconut shrub, lime juice, grapefruit and falernum combine at this tiki spot for a taste of the tropics.
  • Stables Bar At The Milestone HotelRoses & Leather: We’ve got three words for you, “leather infused cordial”. Who can resist ordering that?
  • Sunday In BrooklynSamurai’s Potion: We’re talking tequila, chilli-infused Sake, agave syrup, and citrus. It’s the perfect drink for their brunches or for late night cocktail hangs.

North London

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, smoke-fuelled affairs, and OG London dive bars.

The signage for the Ladies and Gentlemen bar, reading Ladies & Gents bar
Credit: Ladies & Gentlemen
  • Tabac BarSangria Froide: injecting the drink with the flavours of horchata and a squirt of whipped cream make for a riff on a sangria that is unrecognisable, but irresistible. Who can ever resist the cocktail that comes topped with whipped cream?
  • Ladies & GentlemenJack & Jill: there’s no pail of water or hills here in this short mix of Naked Malt, mancino ambrato, disaronno, Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky, supasawa, 1:1 simple, and Peychaud’s. No, we’re not sure what it’ll taste like either, but you can just trust the bartenders when you’re drinking at one of London’s stalwart dive bar cocktail institutions.
  • Little BatQueen’s Lance: Spearhead Whisky, Amaro Montenegro, select aperitivo, and lemon juice combine for this balanced serve in a neighbourhood bar that’ll have you considering moving into the area. If you’re not already lucky enough to live nearby.
  • Mezcalito IslingtonEl Gallo Colado: the Pina colada riff you didn’t know you needed and won’t forget anytime soon.
  • RadiciNegroni ‘Del Mazzei’: when the cocktail is a riff on a negroni (good) with olives (also good) inspired by the chef themselves (even better) you know you’re in safe hands.

South London

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 hidden jungle oases that you actually might struggle to find.

  • FunkidorySmoke & Roses: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, pedro ximénez sherry, rosehip & roiboos tea, verjus, and roses combine in this offering from the Peckham legends. Don’t worry, they won’t be too busy at their Umbrella Project takeover to ensure their top quality remains in place.
  •  Lost and Found Bar – choose from a Toasted Apple Old Fashioned or a Banana Llama: that’s a choice between a mix of Slane Irish Whiskey, manzana apple liqueur, cachaça, Avallen calvados, honey syrup, and Bitter Truth Creole bitters, or a drink that utilizes El Jimador Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, Cynar, banana liqueur, pistachio syrup, elderflower cordial, and Fee Brothers walnut bitters. Either way, you’re in for full on flavours at this Balham hotspot where many of their ingredients are made in house.
  •  Two Hundred Rye Lane – Choose between a Ting Paloma (which needs no introduction) or a Picante that tops a mix Rooster Rojo Reposado Tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, and sprigs of coriander, with chilli. Go for brunch, stay for the drinks.
  •  Lost In Brixton Old Cuban Crown: this hidden tropical oasis is mixing up Ron Santiago de Cuba Extra Añejo 8 Years Old, salted honey syrup, and fresh squeezed lime juice for their special.
  •  The Laundry Cucumber Margarita: this shaken concoction of tequila, house-made cucumber syrup, and fresh lime might be the brightest, most refreshing cocktail special being offered up this London Cocktail Week.

Central London

At the middle of it all is an absolute plethora of Central London bars to choose from, ranging from 19th century ticket halls to completely revolutionary drinking spaces.

the bar of Booking Office 1869, which is a converted ticket hall
Credit: Booking Office 1869
  • Booking Office 1869 The Thymepiece:  In partnership with Broken Clock Vodka, this cocktail takes inspiration from the clock that hangs above the train platforms in St Pancras International Station, across from Booking Office 1869. Lemon Thyme infused Broken Clock Vodka is mixed with Noilly Prat, Graham’s Fine White Port, and Green Chartreuse for an easy-drinking, smooth cocktail.
  •  Tayēr + ElementaryWhite Peach Whiskey Sour: A blend of Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Tio Pepe Fino Sherry and citrus & white peach will illustrate to thirsty drinkers exactly why this bar was recently ranked the second best bar in the entire world. Not bad, eh?
  • Nightjar CarnabyGrand Fizz: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge meets palomino sherry, coconut rum, feijoa wine and Franklin and Sons Grapefruit & Bergamot tonic. Keep an eye on their socials to find out how you can win a unique cocktail ring made in partnership with jewellery designer Bear Brooksbank.
  • The Mekan Bar at RüyaSweet Dream: To showcase the Mekan Bar’s signature Anatolian heritage, this riff on an Aviation blends 333 Turkish sweet wine with Roku gin, lavender and lemon. Fresh, sour, floral, and aromatic, it’s set to be an absolute delight.
  • The Phoenix Bar At Tattu LondonMandopop Bellini: A symphony of tropical fruits, aged peach, and Black Cow vodka beckons. And we think you should definitely heed the call.

Are dogs allowed at London Cocktail Week?

If the venue permits pets, of course! And with over 100 of the participating venues advertising themselves as dog-friendly, it’s actually not going to be that hard to pick somewhere to drink. You’re spoiled for choice frankly, and among our recommendations are whisky bars, iconic agave-focused joints, and venues nestled inside the London Cocktail Week Cocktail Villages.

a chihuahua in a bathrobe with a tiny cocktail
Credit: Shutterstock – Photo by Javier Brosch
  • Black Rock Whisky BarCherry Beamer: Yellowstone Select Bourbon Whiskey is lengthened through the addition of pineapple juice and and berry tepache before being topped with soda and garnished with a pineapple leaf. You already knew whisky was going to be in this bar’s special drink, right? The name kind of gives it away.
  • BiscuiteersKir Royale: The classic blend of Crème de Cassis and Prosecco utilizes Biscuiteers’ own bubbles, and while you’re there you’re definitely getting some biscuits. It would be rude not to.
  • Hacha DalstonJalisco Daisy: Patron Silver Tequila gets shaken up with Hacha Sour Mix, salted banana syrup, absinthe and foaming bitters and vegan foaming agent to show you just why the original location for this agaveria still reigns supreme.
  • Loading BarBloodbourbon: A smoky, fiery serve making use of Horse With No Name Bourbon with Habanero Spirit, a mix of citrus juices, bitters, and simple syrup. A must-go bar for any video game fanatics.
  • ABVSmoke & Mirrors: Smoky, short, and blending together both Eminente Reserva Rum and Laphroaig 10 Single Malt Scotch Whisky, this drink is not for the faint-hearted.

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 is offering up a quartet of cocktails made from Rooster Rojo Pineapple Tequila across their four participating locations (Angel, Brixton, Shoreditch, and Soho). All your favourite amusement bars are also getting in on the LCW action, to ensure everyone in the group has a great night. There’s All Star Lanes (offering up a Peaches & Cream cocktail), Electric Shuffle (grab a Rosemary Sevilla at the Canary Wharf location or a Herbal Surprise at London Bridge), Flight Club (with special Tanqueray serves), Swingers (a gin-forward Watermelon Sugar High, anyone?), and more.

The prettiest places to drink in for London Cocktail Week

Well we have to start things off by recommending you go to Sketch, then, don’t we? The Glade At Sketch‘s tapestry-filled bar is serving up a hibiscus-infused The Rainforest cocktail that’s the perfect complement for shots of what is perhaps London’s prettiest bar. For even more picture-perfect drinking, check out The Coral Room At The Bloomsbury Hotel and sip on a Strawberry Blonde cocktail in the perfectly pink (okay, coral!) environs, or head to The Aqua Shard, where you can try out a Mister Dimister cocktail as you marvel at the 31st-floor-views and striking décor. Alternatively, immerse yourself into London’s most famous themed bar, Cahoots, drinking a Guerilla cocktail in the blitz-themed bar. For a full-on taste of glamour, however, head to The Baccarat Bar for their Nostalgic cocktail in the ultra seductive and sophisticated space.

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.

a knit coaster and a spritz advertising the Knit & Spritz workshop at London Cocktail Week
Credit: London Cocktail Week
  • Official Opening Party: Hendrick’s Secret Emporium Of Underwater Delights – London Cocktail Week kicks off in style at Silverleaf in Pan Pacific London. They’ll be taking attendees on a journey into the deep to experience Hendrick’s Neptunia – the latest limited release from Hendrick’s. Meanwhile the bar will be taken over for the night by the Nutmeg & Clove and Mo Bars from Singapore, and Trisoux from Germany. Absolute liquid delight. (October 13)
  • Bourbon, Steak & Bluegrass Music With Yellowstone Select – Head to one of the biggest parties during London Cocktail Week featuring, well, bourbon, steak, and bluegrass music. The event also mark the launch of the London Bourbon Trail – a two month celebration of bourbon running across London in bars and bottle shops. (October 13 at Block Soho)
  • Knit & Spritz workshop – Inspired by El Bandarra’s ‘Grannies Know Best’ campaign you’ll get all the tools and two hours of expert guidance to knit your own coaster for your aperitivos. While you sip on an El Banderra Spritz, of course. (October 13)
  • Filthy XIII X Funkidory – Bristol-based cocktail bar, Filthy XIII are taking over Funkidory. They’ll be using the night to showcase their renowned ‘The Sunday Club’. The easiest way to attend the renowned event, without the naff of heading all the way to Bristol. (October 16)
  • Pool Tournament With Angel’s Envy – Challenge the best that London has to offer and fight for the title at this pool tournament. Prizes include an Angel’s Envy cocktail kit and limited edition merch. (October 19 at Silk Stockings)
  • The Sun Tavern X Black Pearl – The Sun Tavern is inviting Melbourne’s Black Pearl behind the bar to serve up an exclusive Bacardi Carta Blanca cocktail list for The Sun Tavern’s London Cocktail Week closing party. Expect a raucous closing out party the likes of which The Sun Tavern has become famous for as special guests spin tunes deep into the night. (October 23)

What you don’t want to miss at London Cocktail Week

There’s so much happening at London Cocktail Week, but we reckon these takeovers and events are the ultimate don’t-miss happenings.

  • Five Rivers Diwali Bar – Try the world’s first dry Indian spiced white rum. They’ll be festooning the bar in lights for Diwali as you try out five x Five Rivers signature cocktails, with South Asian snacks to perfectly complement the drinks. (October 13-16, 18-23 at The Little Cocktail Village, Devonshire Square)
  •  The House Of Classic Cocktails – There’s a reason the classics are the classics, right? And while the experimentation across London Cocktail Week is wonderfully exciting, sometimes you just want that old classic cocktail that you can depend on, at its very best. (October 13-16, 18-23 at The Little Cocktail Village, Borough Yards)
  • Lyaness X Alquimico – Alquimico is taking over Lyaness and turning it into a Colmbian hotspot. The bar will play host to Alquimico’s very own cocktail menu with authentic Colombian flavours and ingredients alongside Lyaness’ own ingredient led “British Cookbook ” menu.  (October 13 – 14)
  • Jameson Black Barrel Blending Class – Learn all about the ingredients and crafting of Jameson Black Barrel before crafting your own perfect blend of the Irish whiskey. (October 13-23 at Milroy’s Spitalfield)
  • The World’s Most Rubbish Bar – try out cocktails made with spirits made from recycled and upcycled ingredientsfrom zero-waste spirits brand Discarded Spirits Co. You’ll also get a chance to try The World’s BIGGEST Rubbish Cocktail straight out of the bin. Join the experience to drink your way through the spirit brand’s offerings, and learn from some of the world’s best sustainable bars. It’s more fun (and cleaner) than that makes it sound we promise! (October 20-22)

And even more events…

a selection of gins with cocktails presented in front of them
Credit: Ki No Bi

There’s also a variety of dinners and food-matching events, such as the Fords Gins Martinis & Oysters events, Satan’s Whiskers’ Patron Taco Tuesdays, and Shochu Lounge’s custom designed ROKA lunch with KI NO BI gin pairing, and much more.

And if you like your drinks and your food all in one neat little package (who doesn’t?) head to Crosstown Doughnuts. Weird recommendation, but bear with me. They’re offering up The Green Fairy Dough Bite, a London Cocktail Week creation, which finds dough bite filled with a pineapple and absinthe custard, dipped in a citrusy lemon, lime, and elderflower liqueur glaze, finished with coconut chips, dried pineapple, and crystallised mint, all crafted on a vegan sourdough.

the green fairy dough bite from Crosstown for London Cocktail Week
Credit: Crosstown Doughnuts

After London Cocktail Week ends

Don’t fret if you can’t make the celebrations, or don’t hit up as many bars as you wanted. It’s not like the bars are going to be disappearing after the festival ends! And you know London, the events never stop and the experiences keep on coming. Looking ahead to December, be sure to check out Avora (from the people behind the legendary Alcotraz cocktail experience). You’ll find yourself in a a whole new world as part of this theatrical cocktail adventure where you’ll forage for drinks and join the resistance as you attempt to prevent mankind from repeating the mistakes they made on Earth. Or, for something a little sooner, check out LexTempus where, bespoke cocktails in hand, you’ll go on an immersive  journey through three of America’s music destinations.

a cocktail amidst foliage at the Avora Cocktail Adventure

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 experiencing far higher numbers of customers and orders than usual. Be kind, stand out, and you may just find the wait for your next cocktail getting much shorter.