We speak with Danny Walker, co-organiser of Bristol Cocktail Week
The seventh Bristol Cocktail Week is a series of events organised by independent local bartenders, celebrating the cocktail and cocktail culture in 24 venues. We like to spread out across the city so, for example, there’ll be a whisky tasting at Clifton Observatory.
Besides being fun we like events to be educational where possible, like our Art & Absinthe night. After a bad rap from the press, people seem to think absinthe is a bad thing to be drunk by stag dos in Prague, whereas it’s a delicious, well-balanced spirit with a beautiful history.
A cocktail should taste better than the sum of its parts. It should be balanced, even if described as sweet or sour, and made from high-quality ingredients. Cocktails lost their way a bit in the ‘80s and ‘90s when they became too sweet, too fruity and an excuse for people to get drunk – bars would buy the cheapest possible ingredients and try to make them palatable.
Today’s cocktails are all about fine ingredients, skilfully blended. Bristol punches well above its weight, with several national and international award-winning bartenders. Asking me my favourite cocktail is like asking someone who their favourite child is. I’m a big fan of the classics but as a gin distiller my soft spot will always be gin.
Psychopomp Microdistillery started as a hobby with my dear friend Liam Hirt. We launched out of a basement in Montpelier and it just took off, growing to a point where I gave up the day job and we moved to premises on St Michael’s Hill. Modern society is making the way for great small independent businesses.
There are always big producers, but small batches handmade by people that really care about what they’re doing will often lead to a higher-quality finished product.
Bristol Cocktail Week runs from Sept 25-Oct 1: www.bristolcocktailweek.bar; microdistillery.co.uk