What’s My Weekend: Hannah Sharman-Cox

The founder of London Cocktail Week shares her weekend


Part of what I do is going out, visiting bars and chatting with the bar staff. Awful I know! I started working in bars and events about 12 years ago and set up London Cocktail Week in 2010, which has now grown into a full time job. I think you get the best out of it early in the week, when the staff have a bit more time. I love hearing all the gossip, tasting cocktails, finding out who’s got what up their sleeve. It’s fascinating - it would make a great documentary.


Now I work from home and often start pretty early, so it’s always a complete delight to leave the house! I’ve lived in West London for nearly 10 years and I’m so happy to see the same faces and really feel local. If I’m staying in London for the weekend I’ll very rarely plan anything – otherwise it starts to feel like more work. We have two real ‘industry’ bars on Portobello Road, which means there’s always someone from the trade kicking about – The Portobello Star, above, (171 Portobello Road, W11 2DY, 020 7229 8016, portobellostarbar.com) has just had a very fancy face lift and serves the most delicious cocktails made with their own Portobello Road Gin (.portobelloroadgin.com). I’m a loyal gin drinker and a quick G&T is my absolute go-to tipple when I get to choose my own beverage. A few doors down is Trailer Happiness, below (177 Portobello Road, W11 2DY, 020 7313 4644, trailerhappiness.com), which I actually opened 20 years ago when I worked for Jonathan Downey . Some friends bought it recently and its great to see the bar continue to flourish and be treated with total love by everyone that works there. And, it’s still brilliant when they set fire to the copper-plated ceiling above the bar. It’s done with alcohol and a naked flame and is definitely not to be tried at home!


We’ve also had a new addition in W11 – The Rum Kitchen, below (6-8 All Saints Road, W11 1HH, 020 7920 6479,therumkitchen.com) – which has a later license than anywhere else in the area. It’s loud, it’s late, it’s raucous – all the staff are fantastic. It’s ace. They also do a ‘bottomless’ Bloody Mary Brunch on a Sunday, which I love – though I tend to switch out the vodka to make a Bloody Maria with Tequila instead.

On a Saturday morning on Portobello you have to be up early to beat the crowds.

There’s a gorgeous deli on Elgin Avenue called Mr Christians (11 Elgin Crescent, W11 2JA, 020 7229 0501, www.mrchristians.co.uk) who have the most amazing selection of food. Things you just can’t get anywhere else – and they can make you up the most epic picnic! Obviously there’s also the fruit and veg market. There are whole families who run the stalls – maybe three generations - and I love that they’re there, day in day out, regardless of the weather. So British!


For low-key, lazy breakfast I really love a restaurant called The Tin Shed (33 All Saints Road, W11 1HE, 020 7221 3790, www.thetinshedbread.co.uk). It’s a working bakery, which has a real industrial, stripped-back, French feel. Down the stairs, there’s a gorgeous hidden courtyard out the back. It’s the most idyllic spot for brunch – feels like being abroad!


If I’ve got nowhere to be, I have a mooch on Westbourne Grove after brunch. I’ve not had much time to shop in the run up to Cocktail Week, above, I’ve spent most of the lead time in my pyjamas frantically on the phone making sure everything is done (oh the glamour) but I did actually do a comedy double take and leapt into Joseph Shoes (61 Ledbury Road, W11 2AA, 020 7229 1870) for some See by Chloe shoes last weekend. Studded winklepickers. Right up my street.

Saturday afternoons are always set aside for Pina Colada time with my pals. A couple of friends own The Marshmallowists (themarshmallowists.co.uk) who have a stall on the market. They make the most gorgeous sweet treats- above – all sorts of really unusual flavours, people go mad for them - some are even made with gin! They sell from outside 171 Portobello Road and as soon as they’re finished selling for day we all get together for a catch up. A drink or two. Sometimes this leads to very late nights, dancing with our shoes off but I’ll be honest – I probably wouldn’t head into the West End on a Saturday night. I’d much rather head to Soho for a wild Wednesday! We‘d start at The Pink Chihuahua at El Camion (25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR, 020 7734 7711,elcamion.co.uk) for Dick Bradsell’s delicious Tommy’s Margaritas (made with agave syrup, fresh lime and 100% agave tequila), maybe swing past Mark’s Bar at Hix (66-70 Brewer Street, W1F 9UP, 020 7292 3518, marksbar.co.uk) - I love sitting at the long low bar and tasting things as the team dream them up - and then inevitably onto The Box (11-12 Walker’s Court, W1F 0SD, 020 7434 4374, theboxsoho.com) which is by far the best night out for me. There always seems to be something ridiculous going on in there. And it always seems to be 4am. I don’t know how.

Sunday I try and get to FRAME (27 Beethoven Street, W10 4LG, 020 8960 4849, moveyourframe.com), which has opened a West London outpost in Queens Park. They run fantastic classes, which is a necessity for me to balance out the delicious food and drink that inevitably comes with my work. I love the camp 80s vibe of their Jane Fonda Workouts but my first choice would always be adult ballet. I trained as a dancer and while I’m useless now, I still love the discipline.

My Sunday evenings are usually spent curled up at home, especially now the evenings are getting darker. A night not drinking is a definite plus in the middle of all the madness.

However, this weekend in particular will be spent dreaming of these restful pursuits as we’ll be in our pop-up shop for London Cocktail Week (londoncocktailweek.com) handing out wristbands and meeting all the people that have registered for the event.

We have some killer venues taking part this year too – Oskar’s at Dabbous, (39 Whitfield Street, W1T 2SF, 020 7323 1544,dabbous.co.uk) Berner’s Tavern –in the new Ian Schrager hotel (10 Berner’s Street, W1T 3NP, bernerstavern.com) and The Blind Pig at Social Eating House (58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR, 020 7993 3251, socialeatinghouse.com). Trying each of those signature drinks is definitely not the worst part of my job.

London Cocktail Week

7-13th October 2013, londoncocktailweek.com

It’s easy to get involved – you just register at londoncocktailweek.com, and buy a £10 wristband which entitles you to a bespoke £4 cocktail in more than 160 participating bars across London.

Join the ELLE team at #ELLECocktailTrails on Wednesday October 9, well tweet our progress on @elleuk

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