Are these London's 7 Best Cocktail Secrets of the River Thames?
As Autumn descends, where would the capital be without its river and its cocktails?
Londoners can take comfort that certain things always stay the same, namely Old Father Thames and London Cocktail Week. The river was known to the Romans as Tamesis, and meanders through enormous bends all the way down to the North Sea, as here at Rotherhithe, a view which can be seen in the credits to EastEnders. Of similarly classic vintage is the margarita, a hand-crafted Mexican concoction served with a dash of pizazz to a wildly appreciative congregation at the Cocktail Week Village in Old Spitalfields. Buy your £10 wristband in advance to avoid queues on the day, any time before last orders on October 9th, and taste the zing before your wait loses its sparkle.
The tidal Thames rises and falls up to seven metres a day, bobbing up and down with little boats, and carrying the hopes of the capital downstream. Here at Chiswick the Boat Race is run every year on the incoming spring tide, where Oxford take on Cambridge, and only once in 1877 has there ever been a dead heat. Another finely-balanced act is the martini, a 50-50 pairing of gin and vermouth. This bespoke combination can be found headlining the speakeasy vibe at the Brick Lane Hub Distillery in both natural and organic pairings. Buy your tickets in advance on the London Cocktail Week portal, or turn up on the day and take a chance on being shaken not stirred.
Every year the Thames Barrier is closed as a test to ensure it still works, bringing crystal waters and brimming spectacle to the Woolwich riverside. Underspill begins just before high tide as the gates twist to allow surging white white water, displacing the seagulls and bringing Greenwich Marina's yacht regatta to a premature close. Another annual event is London Cocktail Week, a joyous outpouring of alcoholic exuberance during which exclusive delights are dispensed to the elite masses in carefully curated combinations. Buying your ticket in advance, including complimentary Dirty Screwdriver, is an absolute must.
Tower Bridge has stood since 1894, raising its great arms three or more times on a good day to allow river traffic to pass through. A siren is sounded and the master of the ship must manoeuvre their craft carefully between the spans, or else forfeit three barrel-loads of hay to the Lord Quartermaster. Modern sightseers can enjoy an equally tricky challenge at the Old Truman Brewery - the Whisky Sours Masterblend Malt-Off - whilst sipping hand-crafted specialities from the destination bar. It's important to commit to buying a wristband now, from this link, because Tower Bridge is closed to traffic until the New Year due to renovation work.
The lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, opposite the O2, was first used by the great Victorian physicist Michael Faraday to test his theory of laser diffraction. These days the lantern is used for performances of a 1000-year musical composition called Longplayer, and peanut butter milk shakes are served from the American diner parked in a trailer below. If it's boozy elixirs you seek, the maverick combos at Shoreditch's globally feted Roots Tequila bar are certain to bring this imbiber's paradise to life. Check in and tag a picture of your cocktail for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the exclusive after-party, or dig deep and grab your VIP pass now.
The City of London's rubbish is carted away in crates from a jetty near Cannon Street station, just as it has been since the days of Dick Whittington. The Queen's equerry rides aboard each launch as it heads downstream to Maldonsea, the artificial island in the Thames near Canvey which has been created by three centuries of compacted urban waste. The best cocktails are also laid down in layers, as premier mixologist Patrice duZane will demonstrate in his immersive spritzer masterclass at the Grey Goose pop-up marquee. Tickets for these heavily discounted tinctures are expected to disappear fast, so don't delay, pre-order today.
In 2006 a whale nicknamed Charlotte was spotted swimming in the Thames near Battersea, although she later died. Eels and salmon are still forced upstream when storm drains empty into the river after particularly heavy rain, and upturned canoeists often find themselves swimming in a sea of raw effluent. A similar torrent of sewage has been written about London Cocktail Week, the annual attempt by drinks manufacturers to persuade richer members of the general public to hand over considerable sums of money in return for a few small glasses of overhyped liquid. If you're seriously considering attending, why not ease your conscience by donating a tenner to your local food bank before you go?