Bristol Cocktail Week in Review


Written by Marlon Clark-Ward, Oscar Henson
Photos and illustrations by Gareth Aldridge
28 Friday 28th October 2016

Bristol Cocktail Week landed with a splash on Monday 17th October. A measured approach saw eleven ticketed events throughout the city. Highlights included a cocktail bus tour of Bristol’s spirit-ual history, a rum cocktail and mini-golf combo as well as an American craft gin cocktail and jazz night. The diverse range of events was proof the organisers could create the perfect evening for all cocktail lovers.

The city of Bristol was also divided into five themed zones: The Seven Seas, BS1: A Space Odyssey, The Mile High Club, The Mild West and The Land Before Time. Each zone contained four independent bars which blended their own specially crafted cocktail. A neat concept with a modern twist.

Don’t Panic took a closer look at two of the events on offer during the week.


Tuesday 18th October – The Art of Blending – The Milk Thistle

Walking alongside Colston Avenue, you could easily miss the clandestine doorway to the Milk Thistle. On entry, attendees were warmly greeted with a whiskey soda and sharing platter in the ground floor bar.  Once finished a group of 20 were led up a square spiral staircase to a private function room.

Taking a seat in the luxurious leather furnishings you were met with a table of glass wear, pipettes, funnels, maps, and five Scotch whisky’s. Each whisky name denotes the area in Scotland it was distilled; guests saw Grain, Speyside, Lowland, Highland and Islay.

Phil Huckle, the global brand ambassador for Chivas Regal played host for the evening. Starting with a brief whisky history and a couple of tips into the quantities of Scotch to use for a blend. It was then time to sample liquors and experiment with combinations.

After 45 minutes a blended mixture was committed to bottle. A best name competition was also completed. The owner of the winning name, Concorde Royale, received a bottle of Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. An overall sophisticated Tuesday evening set in a beautiful Victorian building. The group departed, personally blended bottle in hand.



Thursday 20th October – Her Majesty’s Secret Cinema – The Old Fire Station

If the Milk Thistle’s Whiskey session was Cocktail Week at its most cosmopolitan, Her Majesty’s Secret Cinema is Cocktail Week at its silliest: a silver-screen showing of the original Ghostbusters movie presented alongside a perfectly orchestrated menu of ghoulish and garish cocktail serves.

On arrival we’re each handed a bag of popcorn and a cup of Patria Punch – a rum-based concoction comprised of Bacardi Ocho, Earl Grey Tea, lime-cardamom sherbet, Crème de Fraise and Golden Falernum (a sweet syrup flavoured with almond, ginger and cloves). It’s sweet, sour, refreshing and delicious – the ideal primer for a perfectly unsophisticated night at the movies. 

Once we’ve been seated, the lights dim and the screen flickers into life – but meanwhile, offstage, the real performance of the evening is being prepared.

After 15 minutes, as poltergeists launch exploding eggs around Sigourney Weaver’s kitchen, we’re handed creamy shots of Dewars whiskey and Coco-Lopez served in hollowed-out eggshells, with a ‘yolk’ of thickened mango lassi dropped into each as a finishing touch. The attention to detail is impeccable, and the booze delectable.

Later, following an on-screen run in with the green Slimer, we’re handed cans of firey Jack Daniels, ginger beer and bitters, served with a side of glittery green jelly for added toxic effect.

And finally, as central New York is laid to waste at the hands of a possessed Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, we’re served luminous beakers of Patron Silver, lemon juice and smoked marshmallow syrup – each lit with an underwater LED light and finished with a Stay Puft marshmallow stirrer.

For one night only, Her Majesty’s Secret Cinema magicked a room full of adults into giggling school kids. Looking around at the room of illuminated grins, I’m reminded that cocktails aren’t just about suave and sophistication: they’re about drama, fun and fireworks, too.



Don’t be sour if you didn’t get the chance to sample the unique concoctions or events this time around. Bristol Cocktail week returns in 2017 for more innovative evenings around the city.

Until then - Keep an eye of the cocktail lovers’ movement…

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