London Cocktail Week wraps up its 11th year!
In 2020, London Cocktail Week committed to forging ahead and helping as many of their bar partners survive the COVID-19 crisis, which we all know has hit our industry so hard. Last month we spoke to festival founders Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne for the inside scoop on how they had adapted the event to accommodate for COVID-19 restrictions, and now we catch up with them again to see how it all went!
How do you feel the festival went?
We were so happy with the overall event. Obviously, it didn't happen exactly as we were expecting at the end of last year, but we feel super proud that we were able to adapt so quickly and create something that answered the need of the hospitality industry at that time. The feedback from our bar partners, spirit partners and importantly - our guests - has been overwhelmingly positive, so we're delighted with the outcome.
Now that you’ve run the festival for the entire month, do you think you’ll extend it again next year?
Never say never!
Given you were one of the first physical events to run during COVID-19 how has the overall response been this year?
We asked our guests in our feedback survey if they felt 'safe' during the festival and the response was exclusively positive so we'd like to take this opportunity to show that live events are possible - yes you must be careful but with some thoughtful modifications the restrictions are manageable.
LCW came at pretty poignant time for the industry, have you had any feedback on how it has helped the brands and bars involved?
We've had heart-warming reports back from both brands and bars that London Cocktail Week was a force for good in 2020. One bar owner even stated that the festival had "saved his business". Obviously, we wish we weren't in the position to begin with, but knowing we've done something so worthwhile is just so great for us personally.
This year there were a whole host of great events on offer, which type of event has been your favourite?
The use of VR was a really smart move for 2020. It was a perfect reaction to the restrictions we faced plus took people out of their normal lives and whisked them away to new climes. We booked in to the Laphroig Library at Oriole and absolutely loved the multi-sensory experience they created.
Obviously, you had a lot to contend with, what with COVID-19 rules, the 10pm curfew and then Tier 2 happened mid festival, how did that effect things? (Tier 2 in London meant that people could not socialise indoors with people from outside of their household.)
We tried to be so upbeat about all the changes and immediately reassure both our guests and our partners what each alteration meant for them, but it was Tier 2 that was the real crusher. Once that kicked in - things really slowed down, which was such a shame.
There's been such a lot to contend with in 2020 - for absolutely everyone - and we've seen that people need about 3 or 4 days after each announcement to process what is now possible. What was encouraging though is how many people understood the cause we were fighting for and who wanted to get out and support their favourite bars across the month.
This year you had a nationwide offering for the first time, how was that received?
We were so happy that we were able to include this! There was a moment when it felt too big, but we had the most wonderful partners in The Drinks Drop who embraced the challenge and really went over and above to create such a brilliant addition to the 2020 festival. We've had some lovely notes from people that weren't able to venture into London as they were shielding who still got involved and were so grateful to still enjoy £6 cocktails from some of the world's best bars.
And lastly, what has been your favourite part of the festival?
Knowing that we made a difference to so many bars at such a challenging time. We were also so grateful to get through the month without a full lock down… It was very much in the back of our minds each time the BBC news app pinged up, but we got super lucky! With the festival being a month, we also got the chance to visit so many more of our bar partners than usual and having the chance to share a drink and bump elbows with so many of these friends was truly a blessing.