London Cocktail Week, Siobhan Payne, Hannah Sharman-Cox

Siobhan Payne and Hannah Sharman-Cox

London Cocktail Week: The dream team

01 October, 2019

On the eve of the 10th edition of London Cocktail Week Drinks International caught up with Siobhan Payne and Hannah Sharman-Cox, the dream team behind one of the industry’s biggest festivals.

“It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years. It’s been a real journey getting this far and we’ve got some big plans for this year’s festival,” says Sharman-Cox.

LCW is said to have injected more than £2m into the London bar industry since its inception in 2010 and although they’re celebrating the success of a landmark year, it hasn’t been without hard work.

Sharman-Cox adds: “There’s been times when it’s been so hard that we wanted to bang our heads against the wall and run away, but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and I’m not sure I’d change things looking back. We learnt a lot in the process.”

Although Sharman-Cox trained as a tap dancer, while working in the US she was inspired by the late Sasha Petraske at Milk & Honey in New York City and landed herself a job with the London venue when it was launched by Jonathan Downey in 2002.

She continued working alongside Downey to launch venues under the Match Bar Group before moving into the world of PR with Simon Difford. The first major role she played for Difford was helping launch St Germain elderflower liqueur in 2007, before he suggested she set up and run London Cocktail Week.

“I managed to get through the first year but it was so intense that I told Difford that I needed someone else to work with,” she says.

This led to the formation of one of the industry’s most notorious duets that have nurtured London Cocktail Week into one of the biggest drinks festivals on the planet. And even though LCW barely made a profit in the first year, the combination of Payne and Sharman-Cox took things to a new level.

“Before I joined Hannah I was working on the second installation of UK Rum Fest with Ian Burrell and I just loved it,” says Payne. “I knew then that I wanted to work in this industry.”

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