World’s best bars serve at the Virgin Atlantic stand at London Cocktail Week

By: Dave Gunner

October 4, 2018

No other airline does cocktails like we do. When you use our Clubhouses, our partnerships with the best bars in the world allow you to sample some of the most innovative cocktails on the planet.

This week our obsession led us to London Cocktail Week where we’ve set up a Clubhouse style bar. We then flew in bartenders from our partner bars around the world and set them a challenge – to make an original cocktail based on Aviation Gin. It was a friendly but fiercely competitive event that produced some extraordinary results. The eventual winner was Megan Daniel from Whitechapel in San Francisco who produced a cocktail called ‘Hal Jordan’ – a beautiful riff on the classic Aviation. Simple and elegant in presentation, the cocktail will now be rolled out across all our Clubhouses globally. The real winners, however, are the visitors to the festival who can experience all of the amazing entries for themselves.

London Cocktail Week

Judging the competition was Hannah Sharman-Cox, the organiser of London Cocktail Week, Sandrae and Gary from The Cocktail Lovers magazine, and our very own Clubhouse food and beverage manager Mark  Murphy.

“We already partner with some of the best bars in the world and create the best airport experience in the industry,” said Mark. “So the natural progression was to take it to the masses. We’re a brand that has hospitality in its DNA and London Cocktail Week allows us to showcase our product with a crowd that many not appreciate how far we’ve come.”

Mark presents Megan with her prize. See it on the bar in Whitechapel, San Francisco from next week.

The best bars in the sky

Will and Liana from Dante, New York

We caught up with Will Oxenham and Liana Oster from Dante, New York who served some of their signature cocktails on the flight over.

The Dante onboard cocktails

“The drinks we served onboard were as good as they get,” said Will. “There was no compromise on quality or the ingredients.” The Dante cocktails included a pimped up Bloody Mary with bell pepper and beetroot juice, a Chicago Fizz with rum and port, a beautifully garnished spritzer and an old-fashioned cognac and single malt nightcap with honey and chocolate mole. The pair even managed to get giant ice cubes and a rare Concord grape onboard.

Sarita and Justin check out the competition

Back in London, once the competition was over it was time to serve some of the entries to London Cocktail Week’s visitors. For this, we flew in Sarita and Justin Rhoads. This husband and wife duo have been working together in our San Francisco Clubhouse for a number of years. Before starting their shift the pair had a chance to look around the festival and watch a few of the competition entries. “This has been an excellent learning experience for us,” said Justin. “There are lots of new and interesting ideas here, but it’s also clear that people still love the classics.”

At the top of their game. Bartenders from the best bars in the world.

“We’ve worked a lot with Smugglers Cove and Whitechapel because they’re both based in San Francisco,” said Sarita. “We have a real camaraderie. I’ve learned so much from them and discovered some great new techniques and ingredients. We can’t wait to take some of these ideas back to the Clubhouse.”

The competition was all centered around our partner brand Aviation Gin, the American drink brand which is owned by Ryan Reynolds. Justin has been really enjoying working with the gin. “It’s so mild and smooth and easy to work with,” he said. “It’s very versatile and goes really well with a lot of different things. I’ve been having a lot of fun mixing it with citrus flavours like grapefruit and more subtle ones like chamomile.” You can try Aviation Gin for yourself onboard and in our Clubhouses now.

Here are a few photos from the flights over…

London Cocktail Week runs until 7 October 2018 and takes place at The Cocktail Village in Brick Lane, London and at 300 other venues across the capital. Our bar is at the main venue and we’d love to see you there.

Here are the cocktails in full:



“The cocktail winner was chosen based on a combination of the flavours, ingredients, originality and bartenders’ patter, with additional points for theatre, and the depth of research and story behind the cocktail. I was so impressed with everyone but the Whitechapel cocktail really stood out.

“The show of talent was amazing. To have bar royalty from the likes of Smugglers Cove in San Francisco and Employees Only in New York grace the stage was a very proud moment for us. They all brought their A game which made judging a real challenge.”

Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.