Theres a new champagne and cocktail bar located in the Italian area of the Trafford Centre’s Orient food hall. I’ve watched this bar grow from day one as it’s location is opposite to where i work and i’ve been itching to try it out ever since its grand opening less than a week ago.
I took along a friend and arrived at about 3pm. As you can see the back bar automatically grabs your attention, the large circle with a magnum of champagne in the middle! A good layout of spirits surrounded underneath it including Jack Daniel Single Barrel, Belvedere, Patron and Martin Millers as well as display ice buckets with several bottles of Moet & Chandon poking out the top. Cake stands were also visible for there Afternoon Tea promotion (more about that later).
Sitting ourselves on white leather bar stools which despite looking like salon chairs, went surprisingly well with the white decor, we were greeted by the bartender on duty with a smile and a drinks menu. I had already previously asked The Circle Club (the company behind the bar) on there Twitter feed which cocktails they recommend with the replies of ‘Pornstar Martini and the speciality 360’, so with curiosity getting the better of me i plumped for the 360 while a French Martini was ordered as well. Now i don’t know if this is me but if you make a cocktail, you make it in front of the customer, not halfway down the bar. It would have been nice to see what ingredients he was putting in to this speciality cocktail (i glimpsed Hendricks gin being used) but i gave the man his dues once he presented me with the finished item.A dark blackcurrant colour with a fresh blackcurrant and cucumber fold as a garnish made a good first impression. It had a smooth velvety taste to it with the constant aroma of cucumber coming from both the garnish as well as the Hendricks gin. Slightly overpowering it sometimes but the blackberry taste counteracted it nicely and made it a very nice mouth-watering signature cocktail.We were a bit confused with what our other drink was as we originally ordered a French Martini however a champagne flute was handed to us which eventually turned out to be a French 75. Obviously thinking the French Martini would be served in the Martini glass and the signature cocktail served in a champagne flute, it turned out we were drinking the drink the other one had ordered. A mistake on the bartenders part but non-the-less the French 75 was a beautiful lemon zest cocktail with the Moet & Chandon champagne top not overpowering the overall complexity at all. After a few sips i also noticed it started to go down very smoothly, as if the drink had settled and it allowed you to enjoy it that little bit more. The glass itself helped, an elegant yet simple thinly stemmed champagne flute that curved at the top to reduce the amount of gasses being released.
A Parisian Re-fashioned followed next for me with an absinthe take on the Old Fashioned classic.
Made with coating the inside of a tumbler glass with Le Fee Parisian Absinthe and igniting for a few seconds, blowing out and starting the 7 minute process of an Old Fashioned. The use of Woodford Reserve bourbon was a particularly good choice and vanilla sugar made my day as the sweet tooth guy I am. To be fair it wasn’t 7 minutes in the making but the drink itself was a well-balanced affair. The vanilla sugar took the edge off a drink which can sometimes come on a bit strong if not enough Demerara is used and it worked well. The burnt orange zest gave some interesting aromas as it mixed with the coating of absinthe and the Woodford Reserve but it didn’t over come you which made it a very drinkable drink.
My friend is a lover of Tanqueray 10 and asked the barman for a recommendation that involved fruit juices. The result was Tanq 10 with both fresh and puree strawberries with a top of champagne served in a Martini Glass. This had a zest tingly sensation to it, possibly due to the champagne top but also to the fresh strawberries used. The gin was hard to tell it was there sometimes but you got the odd taste of the Tanq once you made your way through the layer of fruit.
The Circle 360 bar menu is a simple yet well set out design with a ‘champagne story’ on the inside cover to highlight the bars purpose.
Now i will say this, the prices that the drinks are being sold for are worth it.
Champagne cocktails (Bellini’s, French 75’s) for £6.95
Signature cocktails (Pornstar Martini, Jack Daniels Single Barrel over ice) for £5.95
Classic cocktails (Mojito, Margarita, Long Island) £4.95
Contemporary cocktails (8yr Itch, Grey Goose Le Fizz) £5.45
Martinis (Cosmopolitan, French Martini) £5.45
Compared to the rest of the Trafford Centre’s bar/cocktails offerings as well as the reputation of The Circle Club i did expect to be paying a lot more for these drinks, especially when they use premium spirits and champagne! This could be a winning formula for them and i hope they stick at these prices for a while to come.
Now as you’d expect there are offerings for wine with what looks like a very good and varied selection in each category (a bottle of Sangiovese, Ceravalo Estate caught my eye for £29.50). The usual suspects of champagne are there with glasses of Castell Lord Cava at £3.50 to £7.95 for a Moet & Chandon Imperial Rose and topping to a bottle of Krug Clos D’Ambonnay Vintage 1996 at £3295. Theres Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Laurent Perrier, Veuve Clicquot and Louis Roederer thrown in there for good measure too.
Soft drinks are available too with the offering of juices, milkshakes, smoothies and tea and coffee as well as fresh cake slices including victoria sponge, cupcakes, scones and lollicakes (cakes on a stick, – popular with celebrities apparently!). They also do a Afternoon Tea priced at £15.50 where you receive a pot of Darjeeling tea, choice of 2 sandwiches, scone, elderflower cake, chocolate choux pastry and fresh fruit tart!
Nearing the end of our visit we were both genuinly impressed with the offerings that The Circle 360 give you in the case of drinks as well as surroundings. The stunning bar set-up is a thing to see and you don’t always feel like your in the middle of a food court when your sat there, something which i thought would put me off.
You’ll be seeing me here again that’s for sure, theres plenty more drinks for me to try!