London Cocktail Week is unveiling a series of new initiatives in 2023 aimed at supporting and championing the bartending community and hospitality industry. Heading into its 14th year, the festival is implementing a variety of changes aimed at giving new opportunities for both local London venues and international bartenders visiting the capital. These initiatives are poised to offer London bars opportunities to generate higher revenue during the festival. They include the option for bars to directly sell wristbands to consumers, retaining all revenue and amplifying their earnings. Additionally, the Bartender Knowledge Exchange programme presents an educational prospect for both local and international bartenders within the global cocktail community.
The first of the initiatives is, for the first time ever, to give venues the opportunity to directly sell the London Cocktail Week wristbands across the bar and keep 100% of the revenue. Throughout the history of the festival, London Cocktail Week has been committed to injecting substantial revenue into the Night Time Economy through the sale of Signature Cocktails in participating venues, and over the last thirteen years, more than four million pounds have been run through the tills of its partner venues, with the bars always retaining 100% of the price of the drinks.
Now, in 2023, this commitment is being taken to a higher level where partner venues will be able to keep 100% of the revenue of the £15 per wristbands, which are provided free of charge to the venues. This has been made possible by London Cocktail Week’s long standing partner The Whisky Exchange, which has committed to support the festival and ensure it is continuing to give back and support venues whilst also forging ahead to be ‘best-in-class’ as a global example of a cocktail festival. This venture is a pivotal part of London Cocktail Week’s commitment to reinvesting funds into the hospitality industry, which will continue to grow in years to come.
The second initiative of London Cocktail Week’s evolved mission is the Bartender Knowledge Exchange programme, which will see a host of London’s most revered venues take part to provide meaningful learning opportunities to young bartenders keen to learn, as well as opportunities to meet peers and potential mentors. London Cocktail Week will work directly with the host venue to help to create the ultimate education experience that best showcases their bar and distinctive process and offering, such as back of house pre-shift tours, “The Seat At The Bar” – a bookable experience for bartenders to sit and watch the host bar in action, and exclusive tastings and talks with bar owners and managers.
Venues taking part in the Bartender Knowledge Exchange programme range from five star hotel bars, specialist bars, Michelin-starred restaurant bars and some of London’s best neighbourhood bars. For example, award-winning venue Sexy Fish is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for a bar outside of the UK that has neve done a takeover in London before. International bars are encouraged to enter a competition to win the chance to take over the bar for one night only during London Cocktail Week on Monday 16th October, with all travel costs covered. To enter – bar teams from around the world must submit this form and upload a one-minute video to Instagram, tagging @sexyfishlondon, explaining why their bar should be chosen.
Additional examples of the Bartender Knowledge Exchange include “Connaught – Behind The Scenes”, where, for the first time ever, bartenders can spend time with the iconic bar’s award winning team and step behind the scenes as they share the elements and rituals as they get ready for service.
Swift Borough and Swift Shoreditch are offering the “Pick Your Battles” experience, where bartenders learn the basics of hand cracking ice to order from the best. This one-on-one opportunity to learn from the Swift team will include masterclasses in ice for highballs, rocks, wash lines, garnishing with hand cracked ice and how to avoid injury. This hands-on masterclass will be run daily in both venues during London Cocktail Week at 2.30pm. A £10 deposit (redeemable at the bar) will be required and bookings can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org. To maximise the learning opportunity – this will be available for one person at a time only.
The Seat at The Bar programme will offer bartenders the exclusive opportunity to book the best seat in the house for interacting with the team behind the bar and expanding their knowledge by watching them work and soak up as much information as possible. Whilst bartenders booking these seats will be expected to pay for their drinks, this exclusive opportunity will give young bartenders from around the world a chance to meet the host team and get first hand experience of how they work. Bars taking part include The Savoy, Soma and Swift – with more confirming all the time.
As London Cocktail Week begins just after BCB Berlin, another opportunity which the festival is offering, in partnership with The Hoxton, is exclusive room rates in venues in both London and Berlin, at The Hoxton Shepherd’s Bush and The Hoxton Charlottenburg. Bartenders travelling from further afield for BCB Berlin or London Cocktail Week can enjoy a 20% discounted rate on rooms at both sites with a specially created code.
London Cocktail Week 2023 is taking place between 12-22nd October and, as always, there will be a full programme of national and international takeovers taking place, offering guests the opportunity to experience bars and their drinks offerings from all corners of the globe. From the dressing of the space to the soundtrack, to the food and of course the drinks, guests can expect a host of unparalleled experiences which bring bars from around the world to life in the heart of London. Wristbands are completely free to those working within a bar and will provide guests with exclusive access to specially created £8 cocktails. Bar trade can sign up for their complimentary wristbands via londoncocktailweek.com/trade. Wristbands for anyone not working in a bar cost £15 and are available to purchase from London Cocktail Week’s ticketing partner designmynight.com or from partner venues. For more information, head over to the official website.