The next stop on the Rum Connection European Vacation was London, where Cocktail Week and the UK Rum Fest were on tap.
As I rode the Heathrow Express into central London, my head was filled with memories of the events of the last four days in Berlin. I wondered how London Cocktail Week and the UK Rum Fest could possibly stack up.
After a transfer at Paddington Station, a quick tube ride to Ladbroke Grove and a few minutes walk up the tree lined streets of Notting Hill, I arrived at the Rum Frat House. This beautiful 5 bedroom house would be my home for the next 7 days along with several of my friends from the Rum XP group.
Within a few hours, The Rum Frat was occupied by The Floating Rum Shack crew, Rum Dood and the Gifted Rums family. Laptops were fired up and minutes later nerdy posts were flying on social media and several blogs. Almost immediately we were paid a visit by the local brand ambassadors of several rum companies. By the end of the day, The Rum Frat House was fully provisioned with products from Plantation, Appleton, Wray & Nephew, Siesta Key, Havana Club, Santa Teresa, El Dorado and many more. Research quickly ensued and the mixologists in our group whipped up rounds of delicious cocktails. A very good start to what would surely be a long exciting week.
The fun continued day after day with Cocktail Week rum tastings and media parties, always followed by late night bar crawls to some of London’s best cocktail spots. Crazy nights at Kanaloa and Barrio Central were high points as was all of the time we spent at legendary tiki bar, Trailer Happiness, which was dangerously close to The Rum Frat House.
As Friday rolled around we were all excited to attend a new addition to the UK Rum Fest festivities, the Boutique Rum Show. This trade and media only event showcased smaller brands in a more intimate location at the Olympia Hilton. We made the rounds to each booth, sampled many interesting rums and then had the opportunity to vote for our favorite. In the end, Doorly’s XO took home the most votes for Best Boutique Rum. Well deserved!!
Saturday and Sunday were the main event and everyone was charged up about the UK Rum Fest. This year more than 400 rums were represented. Elaborate bars, displays and chill out areas were constructed inside the Olympia 2 event facility and at noon thousands of people quickly got there drink-on. By 4pm the place was absolutely packed with happy people sampling an endless amount of world class rum. Cocktail seminars were hosted throughout the day along with cocktail competitions and main stage interviews.
By the end of the weekend a staggering number of people filtered through the UK Rum Fest. Would you believe that there were….
- 6,450 attendees over three days
- 8,000 bottles of rum were consumed
- 75,000 tots of rum were sampled (10ml measures)
- 55,000 cocktails were samples
- 10,000 bottles of rum were sold (1.5 bottles per person)
- 24,000 tweets on twitter
- 2,500 samples of Pina Colada from the Coco Re’al Rumshack
- 2,000 Tiki Coladas from the Mahiki stand
- 1,000 chocolate samples matched with rum
- 4,000 Caribbean dinners served