Yesterday I swung by Manchester’s Printworks where the ever impressive Hard Rock Cafe can be found. A popular place that in the past has always left a lasting impression on me whether its food or drinks, this time though, I went for a couple of cocktails before the commute home.
Making my way to the large open bar, a rather busy, yet unfazed barman was creating drinks left right and centre, so I scanned the bar menu and looked for any delights that caught my eye. Almost immediately, the Rum Runner was selected. A combination of Bacardi Superior, banana, Chambord, grenadine, orange juice and sweet and sour mix, shaken and poured over ice with a Myers rum floated on top. Fantastic! Despite the bar being a little busy, I was served within minutes and I was enjoying the drink as I took in the rock memorabilia around me. Being a Manchester based venue, there were quotes from Oasis scrolled around the walls, The Beatles equipment, and even Roger Taylor’s (Queen) jacket from a tour. Signed posters, records, drum kits and guitars were all neatly presented so that it didn’t look like your were drinking in someones cluttered basement, but more an open museum. Anthems from Muse, Journey and even Louis Armstrong were played in the background, loud enough for you to hear, but quiet enough for you to actually enjoy a conversation without straining your voice.
The next drink I chose was the Exotic Margarita. A blend of Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate, shaken into a rather sizeable Margarita glass complete with salt rim. Noticing that Hard Rock stocked one of my favourite tequila’s, i looked over their back bar to see what else they offered. Bourbons Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Knob Creek mingle with Myers, Bacardi Gold and Superior whilst Grey Goose, Skyy, Absolut and Stolichnaya are available for your vodkas. I even spotted a bottle of Remy Martin XO on the shelf! On tap, only Stella Artois, Becks Vier and Boddingtons are seen, however their bottle collection more than makes up for it including Corona, Budweiser, Magners, Heineken and Leffe Blonde. A simple yet good selection of wine is also on offer, with all bottles less than £20, with the odd bottle of sparkling wine and Champagne thrown in their too.
Back to the cocktail menu, and theirs all your usual finds in Long Island Ice Tea, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri and Mojito as well as a few variations of the Margarita. Their ‘Alternative Rock’ section is for the drivers of the day, with a ‘Groupie Grind’ not surprisingly catching my eye! (mango puree, pina colada mix and pineapple juice with a strawberry swirl). The cocktails are between £5.15 and £6.80 which are bargains, especially with the size glassware you can get with some of the cocktails. A selection of the drinks can even be upgrade to have them made into a Hard Rock Cafe branded glass, which you can then take home with you – a collection that is growing steadily at mine!
My time at Hard Rock Cafe flew by as I got caught up in the atmosphere and chatting with Nathan the bartender. A man of many stories, including the time he had to host one of Hard Rock Cafe’s ‘Shake It Up’ events with 12 women, who were determined to drink nothing but straight vodka! He’s also a man of class, naming the Old Fashioned as his favourite drink.
This is an excellent place in the heart of Manchester to come and unwind after work or a day of shopping, with kids allowed to be present too so families are welcome. The restaurant on the upper level never seemed empty, despite it being in the middle of the afternoon, and the comfortable looking bar booths and high tables were filled with business men, chatting women with glasses of wine, or families waiting around for a short while to experience the food menu – a menu that will be explored on my next visit!
UPDATE – UPDATE – UPDATE – UPDATE – UPDATE – UPDATE
Myself and my friend popped in to Hard Rock Cafe for a bite to eat after a long day in Manchester this week, after the promise to myself to explore their extensive menu after my visit above.
Being seated straight away, we were nestled on the outskirts of a relatively full restaurant, with menus handed to us and orders of Margaritas taken. Myself I went for an Exotic Margarita (the same as above, with a combination of Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate) whilst my friend enjoyed a rather fancy yet sophisticated looking Tropical Rock (Absolut Raspberri, crème de banana, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and Midori). With big appetites to fill, we opted for the Jumbo Combo to share, which once arrived, wished we’d brought backup! An array of Santa Fe spring rolls, Hickory-smoked chicken wings, onion rings, potato skins and tupelo chicken tenders, all served with ramekins of BBQ, sour, mushroom and blue cheese sauce. Laid out over an oval place, with a sundae bowl in the middle that held the spring rolls amidst lettuce, jalapenos and tomatoes with dollops of cream sauce to mix, the presentation alone was a sight to see. With an atmosphere comprising of a mix of rock and roll and indie tunes, together with families, couples and the odd group of friends, it gave the place a sort of relaxed feel, with no hint of a rush. There were a few customers dotted around in the bar too, with the familiar sound of a cocktail shaker being put to good use on many occasion.
Once we made our way through the platter, our mains arrived, with a good-sized 10oz burger cooked medium rare for myself (you have to applaud a restaurant that asks customers how they would like their burger cooked – a trend that unfortunately doesn’t seem to catch on at others), smothered in Hickory BBQ sauce and caramalised onions and topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted cheddar cheese. My friend opted for Hard Rock’s Legendary 10oz burger that comprised of two slices of cheddar cheese, onion rings, lettuce, tomato and pickles. With fries on the side of both, and although piping hot throughout, I have to admit we were defeated fair and square. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs this time round! We were given time to ‘attempt’ to finish after a glass of water but it was not to be. And as you can imagine, we laughed with the waiter over his habit of asking if we would like to see the dessert menu.
With no obligation to leave, we finished our drinks and chatted before browsing their Hard Rock store for a memento of the night. A rather snazzy Hard Rock t-shirt bought by myself – well I do already have all the glassware that’s available!
We genuinely had a great experience at Hard Rock Cafe. The food was excellent with great portions, cooked to spec and piping hot, the Margaritas were spot on, and the service we received could not have been faulted. The prices are reasonable too, with the sharing combo £15.95 and both burgers at £13.50. Theres more to offer than sharing platters though, with nachos, chicken wings, potato skins and bruchetta to choose from, before you hit the mains that include BBQ ribs or chicken, club sandwiches and a range of salads and burgers. With kids menus available too, families are welcomed, even at the bar where there is a slimmed down menu to enjoy.
I might try that side out soon, but in the meantime, give Hard Rock Cafe a go, and give me a shout if you see me there!
To check out photos from all my Hard Rock Cafe visits so far, click here.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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