From glamorous Cosmopolitans to knockout Negronis, everyone loves a great cocktail writes Nick Mosley. This September is the perfect time to both enjoy your favourite tipple and also extend your palate with the return of Sussex Cocktail Week.
A wide variety of venues are participating in the week-long promotion in Worthing, Brighton and Hove and Bolney. Each will be offering up to three cocktails at the promotional price of £7 with drinks available for anyone to buy and enjoy.
Iconic Brighton cocktail bars include Gungho! on Preston Street, Twisted Lemon and Twisted Lime on Middle Street and Merkaba at My Brighton hotel on Jubilee Street, with many food-led businesses also throwing open their doors to show their mixing and shaking skills.
In neighbouring Worthing, Pitch by Kenny Tutt, Macmillans and The Whiskey Rooms are joining the line-up demonstrating the growth in premium hospitality in the town over the past few years.
“Our aim with Sussex Cocktail Week is to showcase the many quality local distilleries and drinks producers we have in the county alongside the high standards of cocktails and bartender talent”, said co-organiser Nathalie Gomez de Vera.
“Even despite the pressures of the pandemic, the local cocktail bar scene continues to go from strength-to-strength”, said Nathalie. “With so much choice, our local area really does hold its own against much larger cities in the UK and internationally”.
Joining the line-up of Sussex spirit brands is G&H Spirits based in Steyning. The company launched earlier this year and sees Sussex Cocktail Week as the perfect platform to get their range of three gins in front of both bartenders and consumers.
“As a new Sussex based brand, cocktail week is not only brilliant for brand awareness but it gives us the opportunity to showcase our Initial Gin range by collaborating alongside the best Sussex has to offer”, said Katie Overton-Hart, director of G&H Spirits.
“The creative approach to drink design – by some of the best mixologists in the country – is exceptional and brings the consumer closer to G&H Spirits than ever before in a vibrant and unique offering with the bespoke cocktails available during the week”.
In addition to the Sussex Cocktail Week promotional menus, there are also a number of other one-off drink-related events running under the banner of the Bite Sussex Autumn food and drink festival.
A growing trend in the UK bar industry is the rise of ‘No-Lo’ which are drinks featuring either low levels or no alcohol but still have all the taste and sophistication of traditionally distilled spirits.
Brighton’s Mixology Group will be showcasing all things No-Lo with their SoberStars event on Thursday 16 September at the Mixology bartending school. It’s a fun and interactive evening to introduce cocktail and spirit lovers to the pleasures of alcohol-free drinking alongside like-minded people and includes a masterclass on how to mix the perfect drink at home.
“Being at the forefront of the drinks industry for the last 20 years we have watched the emergence of the no and low alcohol category”, said Zoe Cunliffe, co-director of Mixology Group. “It’s grown at particularly fast rate over the past three years”.
“There are now more spirit, beer and wine alternatives than we’ve ever seen before. Our SoberStars networking session will highlight these products and teach you how to create some delicious cocktails with them whilst giving you the chance to build new contacts… and wake up without the hangover!”.
To close Sussex Cocktail Week, My Brighton hotel is hosting the Sussex Wine and Spirits Festival on Sunday 19 September. Featuring nine local distilleries and vineyards alongside guest distilleries from Scotland and the Netherlands, there are two ticketed sessions priced at £10 each which give guests a welcome drink and two hours to sample great spirits, ciders and wines, the chance to talk to the producers themselves and also buy drinks to take home.
“The Merkaba bar team are really looking forward to hosting the event”, said My Hotel general manager Adam Rice. “We’ve always had a strong focus on using both local and sustainable products. Now the bar is re-opened it’s great to be able to showcase the venue again, especially alongside industry colleagues from across Sussex who share our ethos”.
Sussex Cocktail Week is part of the wider Bite Sussex Autumn food and drink festival with one-off dining events and accessibly priced food trails running in parallel from Friday 10 - Sunday 19 September. For complete information visit www.bitesussex.com