The brave new world of bespoke spirits got an injection of skill and surprise at London’s first ever Spirit Show. Craftily tailored tots are garnering a legion of fans as small local distilleries reach out to global audiences. On the launch pad, under one roof, artisan vodkas, craft gins, small-batch rums and rare whiskies all displayed their merits.
Shaking flasks with gusto was “London’s most mischievous bar group” The London Cocktail club offered a range of their legendary innovative and exciting cocktails created specifically for the Spirit Show.Their designer cocktail list took advantage of the supplies on hand showcasing a very special vodka in their own special way. Winter Wonderland – a mix of chocolate, coconut and salted caramel vodka shaken (not stirred!) with coffee, almond and vanilla syrup. Movie Nights teams up salted caramel vodka with malt chocolate and popcorn. Finally, and in keeping with the theme of good times, is Bump’n’ Grind, which creates the classic espresso martini with Salted Karamel Vodka and Coffee Liqueur.
Clearly the brands on the stands have inspired the imagination of the guys with the cocktail shakers.
And, in turn, the spirits have themselves been the hatched by producers who have been inspired by many sources to fire up their distilleries. Jensen Gin is proud of dipping into the municipal history books to resurrect a centuries-old recipe which is now distilled under the arches at Maltby Street market and draws hipster crowds on a Saturday for a nip. The success of Sipsmith needs no introduction. This is a proof that from little craft gins big brands can grow.
In the UK the world of vodkas has moved on some considerable way from the mass market footprint of Smirnoff. Now clever niche producers are creating blends which are bringing new drinkers to the table. If Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriends were to order up a round of their trademark Cosmopolitans at the Spirit Show, they would be faced with a most bewildering choice of vodkas to put the sting in the tail. And the world of whisky is a go go go. Rare whiskies were on show from around the UK.
All this creativity went on display at The Spirit Show, which took place at the Islington Business Design Centre, and gathered under one rather magnificent roof the imaginings of a growing band of distillers great and small. London’s first Spirit Show, was an ambitious off beat and resolutely up beat bustling drinks cabinet of premium spirits from around the world. The atmosphere was connoisseur but barfly bravado was never far away with unlimited tastings of 100s of different spirits.
The Spirit Show also featured a series of workshops hosted by world spirits experts Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, who held a series of masterclasses across the two days. These included Five Spirits You May Have Heard of but Never Tried, Blend Your Own Gin, World Whiskies Masterclass and Vodkas from Across The World. Plus there were informative and entertaining mixology sessions where a keen crowd gathered bar side to admire seriously honed cocktail shaking skills.
Along side baby brands – such as Isle of Wight gin and another curiosity, Curio, a Cornish Gin gaining a cult following across the UK – big names could be found at The Spirit Show including Berry Bros & Rudd, Revolver Rum, and Fentimans. And it was not just Brit craftsmanship on display. Cachaça from Brazil made an appearance. The most popular distilled spirit in Brazil was strutting its stuff at the Spirit Show. At the same time there was serious heritage on hand. There’s a first chance to try a 100 year old brand – Zeca de Matos – launched just this year into the UK. Also nosing in from around the world mezcal and a revamp of the Musketeers tipple, armagnac.
And attendees got a chance to widen their knowledge of the exotic world of spirits. “The History of Rum in 4 Continents Think you know rum? Then think again.” saw resident rum expert Peter Holland, of the Floating Rum Shack, go back in time to explore the history of rum, stopping for cocktails along the way. And let’s not forget the World Whiskies Masterclass. Taking you around the British Isles and far beyond, discover whiskies from around the world both old and new. By the time you finish this tasting masterclass you’ll be wowing your friends with your expert knowledge.
A chance to do your homework for the pub quiz and enjoy a drink. Nothing better!
This heady mix of stands and brands was a heady cocktail of whisky a go go, gin shaking a tail feather, rum doing a rhumba and vodka rocking.
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