A Whisky Escape Room challenge, over participating 80 bars, a new Cocktail Village, a hidden Masterclass Hub, a Pornstar Martini Party, and distillery tours are just some of the highlights you can look forward to hopping between at next month’s Edinburgh Cocktail Week, 15th – 21st October, as they reveal their full programme of events and 82 signature cocktails.

Over 80 bars across the capital are taking part in this year’s Edinburgh Cocktail Week (30 more than last year) including Harvey Nichols, Tigerlily, Dragonfly, The Voyage of Buck, The Voodoo Rooms and The Grand Café, with each bar designing a unique Signature Cocktail which can be enjoyed for just £4 each with an ECW wristband – £6 for a weekday band (valid Monday to Friday) and £8 for a weekend band (valid Saturday and Sunday).

This year’s expanded format also sees the introduction of a new Cocktail Village at Festival Square, which is free to enter with a wristband. Enclosed within a marquee, the Cocktail Village will act as the social hub of the week-long cocktail celebrations, where attendees can meet up with friends and catch up over £4 cocktails from 15 pop-up bars such as Edinburgh Gin, Grey Goose Vodka, St-Germain, Johnnie Walker, Rumbullion Rum, Belvedere Vodka and Poco Prosecco, plus a very special ‘Golden Ticket’ themed bar from The Pop Up Geeks. As well as lots of cocktails to try, there will also be live music, DJs and drop-in style masterclasses and tastings to keep revellers entertained.

Organiser Gary Anderson commented… ‘We wanted to give the event more of a festival feel this year, so we have introduced a much larger programme of things happening all around the city for wristband-holders to hop between on their cocktail adventure, as well as extending the event to seven days and increasing the number of bars taking part to spread footfall. As a city of event-goers we all love a pop-up space to hangout in, so the Cocktail Village is an exciting new development for the event and the city. It has been designed with an outdoor festival theme to make you feel like you are in an autumnal garden while being in the comfort of an enclosed marquee. With this year’s expansion also came a lot of work with brands and distribution to ensure supply meets demand; a challenge some bars faced last year. New partnerships with brands and local distributors will ensure sufficient stock levels are in place with backup stock from local warehouses just a phone call away.’

Between sipping, sampling and socialising around the bars and Cocktail Village, there is also a programme of events, masterclasses and parties for wristband-holders to attend throughout the week, kicking off with a Pornstar Martini Party hosted by Absolut Vodka at 4042, Edinburgh’s newest late-night venue. Partying continues throughout the week as Altos Tequila host a sleepover themed party at Tonic with a menu of £4 ‘Agave Dream’ inspired cocktails to choose from. Entry to both events are free on a first-come basis and tables can be booked in advance by contacting each venue directly.

Thrill-seeking wristband-holders are invited to join Chivas Regal for a whisky themed Escape Room at Nightcap. Designed for both experienced and amateur whisky drinkers, attendees must use their senses to guide themselves through a labyrinth of flavour, collecting whisky along the way to unlock and create their own personalised blend at the end of the challenge, before enjoying a complimentary cocktail in the Nightcap Lounge.

Another exciting addition this year is ‘The Secret Spirits Study’ pop-up on Queen Street – a masterclass hub by day and underground bar by night, hosted by Wemyss Malts and Darnley’s Gin. Those eager to sample and get creative can look forward to experiential masterclasses such as ‘Mixed Drinks Through the Ages’ which explores the past, present and future of cocktails through sampling and hands-on cocktail-making. Or take ‘A Liquid Journey’ and sample six botanical spirits to discover how they react with one another to form the award-winning Darnley’s Gin range, while ‘The Secret to Blending Whisky’ masterclasses take pupils on a laboratory style flavour tasting before crafting a personalised blend to take home. In the evening The Secret Spirits Study will transform into a hidden cocktail bar with a programme of bar takeovers with mixologists from across Scotland showcasing their skills to create £4 cocktails for wristband-holders to imbibe on in the lounge or underground bothy.

If a break from cocktails is needed, festival-goers can head along to The Empress of Broughton Street for a beer & whiskey pairing with Jameson Whiskey and local craft brewers Barney’s Beer, or be the first to take a tour of the Sweetdram distillery as it opens for the first time, exclusively for wristband-holders. Tour tickets cost £4 each and include samples of Sweetdram’s Escubac (described specifically as not a gin) and their Smoked Spiced Rum.

Local gin producers Pickering’s Gin are also joining in the cocktail debauchery with a collaboration with Brewhemia for a whirlwind week of food & gin pairings, ‘How to at Home’ cocktail classes featuring Pickering’s new Pink Grapefruit & Lemongrass Liqueur, plus tastings and competitions with co-founders Marcus Pickering and Matthew Gammell in the Brewhemia Boudoir.

And the fun and benefits of an ECW wristband don’t end there: wristband-holders can also enjoy a complimentary cocktail with beauty treatments at NOW by One Spa; promotions at the Official ECW Bottle Shops, Royal Mile Whiskies and Drink Monger; 50% off a ride with mytaxi; and free entry before midnight to Edinburgh’s top late-night venues Lulu, 4042 and Shanghai – visit the ECW website for T&Cs.