Cambridge Cocktail Weekend is back for a second year, taking place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange 25 to 27 August 2017. The event was founded by Muddle and Mint to highlight the cocktail offering in Cambridge. It features a selection of Cambridge cocktail bars showcasing a menu of classic, signature and cutting edge cocktails. Local spirit and liqueur producers as well as premium national brands are on board too, giving attendees the opportunity to discover what they can do with their products
Cambridge Cocktail Weekend also offers an educational and interactive experience through workshops, masterclasses, live music and the WFA World Championship Grand Slam Competition where the world’s best flair bartenders compete in the art of juggling bar equipment to entertain and make great cocktails. Cambridge has the honour of hosting the fifth of seven annual Grand Slams held across the world.
Paulo and I attended on Friday, the opening day. There were ten bars selling cocktails and Nanna Mexico served up a variety of dishes made with nachos.
The little booklet prepared by Cambridge Cocktail Weekend, called a compendium, was well put together and contained all the information required for the event. We could peruse each bar’s cocktail menu and take our pick. It was a difficult choice to make! Some of the bartenders were happy to talk us through their cocktails, which helped us decide. The compendium also listed the masterclasses and workshops. Belvedere vodka ran two very popular ones on Friday.
Water stations to keep people hydrated was a great idea. There was also a World Flair Association (WFA) shop in the foyer selling cocktail accessories should attendees be inspired to make their own at home.
Massive fans of Cambridge’s Pinkster gin since day one (I wrote about my visit to their former HQ here), Paulo and I headed straight to their bar. Already well versed in their classic G&T with raspberries and freshly spanked mint as well as their Pinktini, we opted for something new.
I enjoyed the Shear’s Yard Martini, made with Pinkster gin stirred with Cocchi Rosa and pink grapefruit.
Paulo went for a QB & Ginger Ale cocktail, made with Pinkster’s excellent Quince & Bullace liqueur stirred with orange and finished with Fever-Tree ginger ale.
It was great to discover another local producer, Cranes. Founded by twins Dan and Ben Ritsema and based in Cambridgeshire, Cranes produce cider and a liqueur. Cocktails at the event were mixed with Cranes liqueur, made with cranberries, blood orange juice and orange rind.
Premium vodka producers Ketel One had a fantastic set up with Ketel One Kitchen. Their bar was impressive and nicely put together. They also had an eye-catching Dutch bike for displaying their vodkas and their beautiful cart served as a location for their Bloody Mary masterclass.
The masterclass provided participants with the opportunity to create their own Bloody Mary from a range of fresh ingredients.
Guided by Ketel One’s expert bartenders, the participants could make it classic or quirky. Their Bloody Mary was included in the price of the masterclass. It looked like a lot of fun!
However Paulo wanted a Bloody Mary made for him and the bartender was happy to oblige. He made it very spicy, just the way Paulo likes it.
La Raza’s bar featured the most intriguing cocktails, taking them to the next level with modern experimental mixology. The bartenders wore lab coats as a reference to their molecular cocktails. Toxic sours, foams & airs and gelification were all explained in detail in a clever display by “Professor Skeleton”.
I was fascinated by the edible cocktails. Named Good Enough To Eat, these consisted of a package of six classic cocktails that were jellified and presented in an original, delicious way: White Chocolate White Russian, Sex On The Beach, Honey Bourbon Blueberry Yogurt, Screwdriver, Blue Lagoon and Tom Collins. I never had cocktails like this and I felt as though I was taking a packed lunch from the bar. It was a fun experience that certainly got the attention of onlookers as I tried to eat them.
Paulo had a Breaking Bad inspired cocktail named Heisenberg Picador. It was made with El Jimador tequila, Blue Curaçao orange liqueur and lime juice, shaken and served straight up. A small bag of blue popping candy was clipped to the side of the glass. Paulo added a little to his drink but the most fun was emptying the contents into our mouths and feeling the fizz and pop.
Here are a few more snaps taken during the evening:
Live music added to the festive ambience. Swagger, a 5-piece function band from Cambridge, took the stage and entertained the crowd with their great vocals, fantastic musicianship and energetic performance.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the second annual Cambridge Cocktail Weekend and hope it continues for many more years. It’s a fun, varied and educational event with something for everyone. Cambridge has a love of cocktails and Cambridge Cocktail Weekend offers a great way to express it.
We were on the guest list for free entry to the event. The cocktails were at our own expense. All views are my own and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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