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INTERVIEW: Siobhan Payne, London Cocktail Week festival director

INTERVIEW: Siobhan Payne, London Cocktail Week festival director

London’s cocktail culture in recent years has developed an unrivalled reputation as being one of the most innovative and trend-setting in the world. To celebrate this feat, London Cocktail Week was born in 2010. The unique festival, which closed last week, grants lucky Londoners the chance to sip some of the finest cocktails in the city at a discounted rate for seven days, with over 200 bars participating.

We caught up with London Cocktail Week festival director, Siobhan Payne, about the concept, the bars, the drinks and her highlights from this year’s event.

THE METROPOLIST: Why was London Cocktail Week launched? 

Siobhan Payne: London Cocktail Week was launched in 2010 by Hannah Sharman-Cox. What started as an event for just industry professionals soon became something that consumers were interested in. It’s a great opportunity for people to try new drinks and visit bars they’ve never been to before.

TM: How did you make the idea come to reality?

SP: Blood, sweat and tears! We kept it small and focussed in the first year, and made the most of favours from friends in the industry. We work in a trade with great community spirit.

TM: What was the thinking behind the wristbands (wristbands can be purchased for £15 and allows wearers to buy cocktails for £4)?

SP: We wanted something that you can wear all week and easily identify cocktail lovers across the city. We like to think of it as a (not-so-secret) club!

TM: What were your event highlights from this year?

SP: There was absolutely everything you can think of; from a floating distillery to a pop-up bar filled with butterflies. Masterclasses and seminars for those that want to learn, and parties if you wanted to dance.

TM: What challenges were there this year?

SP: This year was bigger than ever! We had more than 250 bars particpating on our Cocktail Tours, so we’re really spreading across the city. We had pop-ups not only in Seven Dials this year (a record number of 11!) but also an additional 10 in other areas.

TM: Tell us more about the cocktail tours?

SP: The Cocktail Tours are the most visible part of the festival. 250 of the best bars across the capital threw open their doors to offer bespoke and unlimited cocktails for just £4 all week for wristband wearer.

TM: How did it go this year? 

SP: It could not have been better, we’re thrilled with how it all went. We smashed all our records, with more than 22,000 attendees, 250 bars, 4 hubs and 25 pop-ups across London, the city was positively buzzing with cocktail lovers.   

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