Last week the London Cocktail Society Christmas party marked the end of a high-flying first year with a party at Callooh Callay.
Though the society had its first event just four months ago, it has enjoyed an accelerated success, with events at 69 Colebrooke Row, Sipmsith distillery, and its Christmas party venue.
Mark Gill, Emma Stokes and Kate McGinlay held the first meeting of the not-for-profit society at 69 Colebrooke Row’s drinks lab in September.
Co-founder of Colebrooke Row, Camille Hobby Limon, explains that LCS got in touch after one of the bar’s masterclass sessions: “We originally agreed to have a group of 15 members in to show them the lab so Tony could demonstrate some of the equipment, and explain how certain ingredients are made up there.
“The subscription to the evening was successful and we offered the following evening to do the same thing, which again was full.”
One of the society’s founders, Kate McGinlay, said the events are also great marketing tools as well as money-spinners: “One bar explained that, one reason they were so keen to work with us is we bring along serious cocktail enthusiasts; members have a higher spend than the average punter plus our word of mouth is quite powerful – we count many many tweeters, bloggers, journos amongst our membership.”
With specialist groups of drinkers and partygoers like the Juniper Society and New Sheridan Club already established in London, cocktail clubs like the LCS offer bars to invite punters in to see their signature serves and talented bar staff. It’s also a great opportunity for small independent brewers and brands to get noticed.
But rent-a-crowd it ain’t – as Sam Galsworthy, distiller at Sipsmith, points out: “The members are people passionate about cocktails and the general movement towards locally made things – in our case, spirits. I’ve never fielded more interesting questions. They certainly know their stuff.”
Marketing manager at Callooh Callay, Rebekkah Dooley, said that LCS members gave bartenders a chance to work hard and show their skills: “The drink selections are more varied, with off-menu requests that allow us to be more creative and daring. We had the best audience a bar could want – a room full of avid cocktail lovers who are eager to drink, learn, and have fun.
She added: “There’s been an animated social media community of imbibers for a while now; it was only a matter of time before they started collectively challenging the bars of London to impress them.”