Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Gilbert's Grape: LCW the story so far

Published:  07 October, 2016

If you go to Spitalfields Market this week you might get a big surprise.

As the centre of London Cocktail Week (LCW) and the week-long series of events' main hub, a fair share of hustle and bustle with consumers indulging in extended boozy lunch-breaks is to be expected.

But the amount of people queuing at the bars this year is a testament to just how much the cocktail scene has grown.

This year, the main square has been taken over by around 25 brands - a fair increase on 2015 - all with equally impressive bars and installations.

As one punter put it, "You don't know where to look".

One of the standout cocktails which could be spotted in the hands of around one in every ten people came from the Baileys stand, where identical twins Craig and Chris Bieszke are whipping up a seasonal cocktail with their limited edition Baileys Pumpkin Spice.

Baileys twins Craig and Chris BieszkeBaileys twins Craig and Chris Bieszke

A concoction of original Irish cream with cinnamon, cloves and spice, it looks like across between a Mr Whippy, a Chai latte and something out of one of Katy Perry's ice-cream inspired music videos: even better actually - as easy on the palette as it is on the eye.

The seasonal trend was strong at the hub, as was the international influence.

Londoners seem to have always taken their capital for granted as the one of the major cocktail cities around the world.

So it was good to see talent from elsewhere, bringing various influences to a category where consumers are demanding creativity and innovation.

Over at the Patrón Cocktail Lab, the bar is being taken over by a different bartender every day, with talent hailing from Paris, Miami, Münich, San Juan and Singapore.

On Wednesday, the resident bartender was Philip Bischcoff.

Coming from the Manhattan bar in Singapore, Bischcoff was bound to include his own take on the Singapore Sling, which turned out to be a superb blend of cherry brandy, lime and pineapple syrup instead of the usual pineapple juice.

Singapore Sling from a Singapore Bartender at the Patron Cocktail LabSingapore Sling from a Singapore bartender at the Patron Cocktail Lab

Bischoff is stopping over in London on his way to France and Berlin - a reminder that bartending these days isn't just a career - it's an international one.

If you ask him what the difference is between the cocktail scene in London and Singapore, he'll say "about a hundred years."

But seriously, he says, the city is catching up, with top-end cocktails available for around 25 Singapore dollars (£14).

The international influence continues outside of the hub and extends to places like Shoreditch's Callooh Callay, where the team behind the acclaimed Athens bar The Clumsies will be based for the week.

The drinks menu is quite different to the Baileys sugar bomb at Spitalfields, with parmesan brine, fennel, limes, seeds and olives, giving the offering a distinctly savoury flavour.

The nutty old-fashioned is a highlight - "nutty" being the key word.

It sums up the atmosphere of LCW, quality drinks with an eccentric London twist.