It’s just as well London Cocktail Week has been extended again this year, there are so many amazing events on offer, even a month might not be long enough to fit them all in. One thing we do recommend you make space in your calendar for is The Essence House in Covent Garden. For starters, the London Cocktail Week Bar on the ground floor is the heartbeat of this year’s festival, the top spot for cocktail lovers to try out a selection of Signature Serves from Hennessy VS Cognac, Martin Miller’s Gin, X by Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky, Everleaf and Belvedere Organic Infusions*. And if that wasn’t enough, the rest of the space has been transformed into an immersive, multi-sensorial event designed by The London Essence Company to get you thinking about the way you drink.
Who’s it aimed at? Honestly? Anyone who wants to know more about their palate and flavour preferences, or those who simply enjoy thoroughly engaging and entertaining experiences. It certainly ticked our boxes. On a shallow level there’s the decor – all bright, light and airy, reminiscent of a chic, super spacious Elle Deco-style loft apartment. There’s a hint of the Clinique lab about it too. Not in a sterile way, but the pristine white walls, lab coated team and individual stations laid out like a chi-chi chemistry class gives off a very funky science-y vibe.
Which makes perfect sense given the matter in hand. As cool as it is to look at, there’s serious intent behind the set up and while there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a science class of sorts, it’s nothing like the dry and boring lessons from your school days. On the contrary, these 45-minute sessions are fun, informative and thoroughly engaging. The intent is for everyone who signs up to leave with a better understanding of how to create the ultimate drinking experience, not only through flavour and taste but by picking up vital nuggets of information about bubbles, how they transport flavour and the importance of temperature and garnish.
There’s a lot of information to take on board but they’ve cleverly broken everything down into digestible and memorable chunks. The session starts with a welcome/introduction on the ground floor where you’re given just enough background into the whys, wherefores and unique differences of The London Essence Company to make you appreciate the fact that these are not your average sodas and tonics – the perfume-like designed bottles are no coincidence, the layering of flavours to create natural flavours is inspired by perfumery too. Brief intro over, the next thing you know, you’re whisked up to the first floor where the journey of discovery begins.
There are three distinct stages involved and each is given its own separate space to shine – a platform to reinforce an important message in the making of drinks. For example, the Palate Profiling Room is where you get to grips with identifying your flavour profile – not one dictated to by trends or preconceived beliefs, here your senses will guide you to your true palate personality. Meanwhile the Effervescence Room is a deep dive into carbonation and how bubbles help to carry flavour – again, you’re asked to pick out the aroma and taste that aligns with your personal preferences. The final stop is the Essence House Kitchen where the business of garnishing your drinks is put firmly in focus. It’s also where your bespoke drink is finally revealed.
We won’t go into all of the details – half the fun is not knowing exactly what to expect. However, we will say this, as you work your way through The Essence House, you’re asked to note your favourite aromas and flavours which all come together in the bespoke drink you’re presented with at the end of the experience. Warning: you may well be surprised by the results. Put it this way, as staunch gin and rum drinkers we weren’t expecting our flavour profile to reveal our preferred spirit as a botanical vodka. But paired with our selected bubbles, The London Essence Company White Peach and Jasmine Crafted Soda, it worked a charm.
As Ounal Bailey, co-founder of The London Essence Company says: “We’re confident behind the doors of The Essence House, guests will find a truly exquisite drinking experience like no-other at London Cocktail Week and beyond.” We couldn’t agree more. At £20 for two drinks, both of which you can enjoy in the gorgeous The Essence House lounge and terrace, it’s great value but more than the money side of things, there’s the experience itself. Like we said, fun, informative and thoroughly engaging and for us, that’s £20 very well spent.
Be sure to check out the fab cocktails available in ground floor bar, either as part of your visit to The Essence House or any time during London Cocktail Week, The London Essence Company and Global Bartending teams have done an amazing job and the drinks are absolutely tip-top.
*London Cocktail Week wristband wearers can enjoy the cocktails in The Essence House Bar for the bargain price of £7 each.
The London Essence House is open until 24th October (closed Mondays). For tickets and details, visit londonessenceco.com