Cocktails In The City Review

Cocktails in the city

The biggest cocktail master class came back in full force this year in the form of Cocktails in the City. Located within Manchester Town Hall, 15 of Manchester’s bars teamed up with 15 brands ranging from tequila to rum and vodka to create a cocktail that would wow the consumers and tempt them to part with their tokens. Not only that though, The Liquorists held tasters for all ranging from ‘The Taster’ which involved two cocktails, main stage demonstrations and a cocktail booklet to ‘The Connoisseur‘ which included a champagne cocktail reception, food from Almost Famous, three cocktails and a Liquorists tutored tasting session.

This year, I was lucky enough to be asked to judge, giving me the perfect opportunity to see what the bars and brands came up with.

Starting the night with the bar in the sky, Cloud 23 served up two cocktails in the form of what myself and fellow judge Keeley Watts described as a Starter and Dessert using rum brand Ron Zacapa. The ‘starter’ came with Ron Zacapa, sherry syrup, yuzu juice and whisky aged bitters that were served with bread, chorizo and feta cheese, whilst the ‘dessert’ was created using Ron Zacapa, maraschino, Tip Pepe sherry, sweet vermouth and came with smoked almonds. Pop-up bar specialists Escapade were next with their unusual takes of creation and glassware. The creations being their enthusiasm and team work to create a Blue Lagoon within a closed jam jar (check out the photos, link at the bottom, to see what I’m on about!) plus a Heinz Bloody Mary using Heinz tomato soup, vodka, lemon and spice mix – served in the Heinz soup can. Innovative, and it worked! 31DOVER,the premium online drinks retailer, collaborated with BarChick, the best bar guide on the internet, to come up with a signature cocktail for the evening named The 31 Dover – gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and topped with Champagne.

Harvey's Marmalade Fizz
Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz

One of the new kids on the scene, The Liquor Store, collaborated with well-known tequila brand Jose Cuervo Tradicional to create the Maria Pickford which involved the tequila, lime, maraschino, pomegranate syrup and topped with pineapple foam and cracked pepper. A fantastic blend of flavours, and one that used the worlds first tequila in the best way. Chase Marmalade were partners with Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar to produce Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz. Using the ever popular marmalade vodka, Campari, lemon and lime juice as well as egg white, sugar, Seville marmalade and topped with soda, the serving of it all in a jam jar complete with a dried orange wheel created one of the more visually stunning cocktails of the evening. A look that complimented its name went to Mojo’s and their cocktail with tequila brand Calle 23. The Pink Chihuahua had the simple ingredients of a healthy dose of Calle 23, pomegranate juice, lime, orgeat and egg white, served in the classic coupette glass.

Visiting one of the bars on the outskirts of the city next in the form of Chorlton’s Proof and their collaboration with Lambs Navy Rum. Two cocktails available from these guys – Any Port in a Storm used Lambs Navy, port, ginger, sugar and lime juice whilst the Mutiny on the Bounty had Lambs Navy, dark chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and cocoa cream complete with a piece of Bounty for the garnish. Next to them were fellow rum brand Flor de Cana and Sandinista. Going for a ‘rum connoisseurs choice of drink’, they came up with Fat Like Buddha – Flor de Cana 7yr, Antica Formula, Benedictine, Cointreau and maraschino liqueur. Venturing back on to the outskirts soon after, visiting Didsbury’s The Violet Hour and Dutch gin Sloane’s, with their two options –  Summer Picnic (Sloane’s, elderflower, lemon, apple juice, marmalade and vanilla) or a more Traditional Cocktail using Sloane’s, curaçao, sugar, lemon and Angostura Bitters.

Another new kid in Neighbourhood partnered with Absolut Elyx to create a Lavender Cosmopolitan. Using pre-steeped lavender and sugar mix to the Absolut Elyx, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice created what Neighbourhood called ‘a seductive zingy Cosmo twist’. The use of Whitley Neil and The Whim Wham Cafe to create the African Sky caught the attention of many an enthusiast, mainly for the loud toots of owner Alix and his African horn (take that how you will) but also for their creation of a cocktail that looks literally like the African sunset. Created using Whitley Neil gin, Cointreau, marmalade syrup, cranberry juice, lime and Peychaud Bitters. Dry ice bellowed from the next bar as Apotheca teamed with Ketel One and made full use of their copper kettles. Creating the Citizen Kettle, they used a double healthy dose of Ketel One, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, white grape and Peychaud Bitters.

Sandanista and Flor de Cana
Sandanista and Flor de Cana

Northern Quarter guys Dusk til Pawn went with white grain spirit Bootlegger to create the aptly named One Old Boot. Using Bootlegger, whisky barrel bitters, sugar, marmalade and ginger, they created a stirred drink with a nod to the Prohibition styles. Cross back into Europe and Belvedere vodka created a twist on the Bramble with Epernay. Using Belvedere, poppy liquor, sugar and lemon, the short yet powerful drink set us up nicely for the trip across the corridor to the The Lord Mayor’s Parlour and three of Manchester’s tiki bars.

Starting with The Liars Club and El Dorado, they created a Liars Club Party Punch using ingredients such as El Dorado 5yr, Prosecco, apple and grapefruit juice, Yorkshire tea and sugar. It came complete with an El Dorado cake courtesy of rum lover North West Nosh! Keko Moko were up next partnering with Chairman’s Reserve to create The Keko Fizz – both Chairman’s Reserve and their Spiced variety as well as cloudy apple juice, egg white, lime, passion fruit liqueur and ting. Described as ‘definitely tiki’, the next and last bar of the evening, Hula, had its work cut out with Havana Seleccion de Maestros. Creating an El Presidente using Havana Club, sweet vermouth, Cointreau and grenadine, the classic went down way too easily.

The winners haven’t been announced yet, but I can tell you that it was no easy task to narrow it down for best cocktail, best bar and best personality. If you can, try each of the above cocktails at some point in the bars, they’re definitely worth a try and maybe you can decide for yourselves who you think should be the winners. While you at it, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for next year, a fantastic atmosphere is not to be missed!

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page. Also check out MWarrenDesigns and the view through his camera.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.

 

 

The Liquorists Tequila Trail Review

Last week I took part in the latest installment of the hugely popular spirit trails hosted by the ever knowledgeable The Liquorists, with this night focusing on that sometimes forgotten category – tequila. A ‘veteran’ so to speak of these trails (I’m now on eight and counting – living up to my Drinks Enthusiast name!) With five bars to view and five tequila brands to explore, you could sense both an air of excitement and worry as the gathering learnt about the history of tequila from Tom Sneesby, whilst having the nagging thought of ‘will he be bringing out the salt and lemon’??

Starting off at The Liqourists HQ, #22Redbank , we were treated to one of the more well-known brands of the tequila world – Jose Cuervo. However instead of the standard gold and silver liquids you find in most pubs and clubs, we were to be on the good stuff, the Tradicional. Coming with a slight harshness on the nose, it softened nicely until it hit your palate. A short, sharp but fresh blast set you up nicely for the complimenting cocktail, the traditional and classic Margarita. Served up by Jody Monteith, the simple blend of triple sec, agave syrup and a double dose of Jose Cuervo Tradicional went down as quickly as the food – barbequed sweet corn, tacos and nacho pots with lashings of salsa, guacamole and cheese.

A short taxi ride to Apotheca, a bar that is no stranger to hosting a spirits trail, had Don Julio Reposado waiting for us. The first luxury tequila to hit the spirit market gave the gathering a sense of the difference that tequila can offer between Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo. As you can imagine, the ‘rested’ tequila (meaning it has been aged for a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels) had a little more sweetness to it, with a spice which went well with our Mango and Rosemary Margarita complete with a rosemary salt rim.

Tabatio Anejo Blanco at Kosmonaut

El Jimador Blanco was to be the next offering in one of Manchester’s favourite bars – Socio Rehab. Comparing the El Jimador to our starter brand of Jose Cuervo, the El Jimador created a more peppery nose but a mouth-watering palate which balanced well against the Paloma cocktail created by Manchester’s finest and involving pink and white grapefruit. Hula shook the night up though with their blanco brand Casa Herradura Plata. Complete with a Tommys Margarita that uses agave nectar for a twist on the classic, the soft nose counteracted the spice start on the palate, but re-wrote the rules on longevity.

Last but not by any means least, the new addition to the Manchester bar scene was to be showcasing Tabatio Anejo as Kosmonaut came complete with a long cocktail of tequila sweetened with the ever favourite crème de cassis.

As mentioned before, I’m a veteran of these trails, but can easily say i still get rather giddy when these approach, especially when it involves brands that even I have never got round to trying. It’s also introduced me to Kosmonaut and taken me to old haunts which make you truly appreciate that these bars really know what they’re doing on a wider scale when on the topic of spirits. As for The Liquorists though – well, 5 cocktails, 5 venues, 5 spirits with food thrown in? You’ll be foolish not too. GET ON THEM

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

© 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.

The Liquorists – Whiskey Trail Review

Last night was the next installment of The Liquorists much acclaimed spirit trails, with this month incorporating world whiskey. Following the same concept of their rum trail, we were to be enjoying 5 different spirits, 5 different cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Jim Beam Black Mint Julep at Trof

Starting the night in Manchester’s Northern Quarter mecca Socio Rehab, we gathered in the bar’s side room and the 14 strong group were welcomed with drams of Woodford Reserve. Barry, of Epernay fame, would be our host for the evening, and after a brief introduction, explained to us why the night would be starting with a bourbon feel. Whilst guiding us through the history of whiskey, a round of Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned were handed out along with Florentines to contrast with.  No sooner had the rocks glass been emptied, we were making our way across the street to our next venue, Trof.

Jim Beam Black was the choice of spirit as we made our way upstairs to their dedicated whiskey room. To go with the dram of Jim Beam, pieces of Frankfurter with aleoli and pork crackling were going down a storm, whilst 1940’s style tea cups were handed to us containing the classic recipe of a Mint Julep – a simple recipe of bourbon, mint and sugar.

Apotheca was the next port of call, with the popular venue which has graced many previous trails offering us a double helping. Our main offering was the Scotland based Auchentoshan 12yr as a dram, and an Auchentoshan Three Wood Sour to enjoy. After visiting three homes of whiskey, Ireland showcased itself next in the form of Jameson’s at our fourth venue, Noho. Nestled in the corner of the sizeable venue, bowls of cheese and caramel popcorn were being eaten like their was no tomorrow, whilst sipping on drams of Jameson’s and its cocktail equivalent Basil Smash which had a dash of Tabasco to wake the senses.

Auchentoshan Three Wood Whisky Sour at Apotheca

Our last bar for the night was in the ever popular Home Sweet Home where the number 1 came out – Jack Daniel’s. Accompanied with a juicy burger to help soak up the nights tipples, it was a rather fitting end to a great insight into the world of whiskey. The treat of Yamazaki 12yr was a personal highlight, with the need to visit both Trof and Noho again to experience more of their offerings!

The next event in The Liquorists calendar is the return of the Gincident. To put it plainly – lots of gin and cocktails on a barge. BRING IT ON!

Check out The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information and tickets.

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

© 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.

Hendrick’s Unusual Month of Reverse Courtship Review

Last Thursday, Hendrick’s gin rolled its way into Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and to the rather Hendrick’s esq venue of Apotheca. The reason? Hendrick’s were celebrating the unusual month of reverse courtship by holding special classes revolved around the do’s and don’ts on marriage proposal. Enjoying a couple of Hendrick’s and tonic’s whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, we all wondered what the night might entail. It turned out that we would be split into two groups, the girls stayed upstairs for the ‘Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest’, whilst the guys were taken to the downstairs bar area for the ‘School of Scoundrels’. Now I have to admit, this article will be rather bending towards what happened during the ‘School of Scoundrels’ as both classes were played out at the same time.

Mr David Pipers explaining the nights events

After making our way downstairs and enjoying another Hendricks and tonic, Mr Sebastian Fellows, our teacher, introduced us to his right hand women Violett, who would be demonstrating the art of how to avoid the inevitable question that women can ask. Scenarios played out included the various opportunities that women can grasp while enjoying a slow dance (for example, just as the lady is about to pop the question, you spin her away!), the nervous twitch a man can suddenly develop that leaves the woman feeling a tad uncomfortable, ‘the drop’ – where as she’s about to propose, you suddenly drop and catch her and completely change the subject, and the last act of being caught totally unawares – counteracted by asking your own question (the ruder the better) which culminates in a slap. Mr David Pipers, ‘Hendrick’s Commander of Special Operations’ and host for the evening, also gave his own tip on how to counteract your lady – repeat everything she says in a sexual innuendo tone, eye brow raising for effect!

Sebastian had us all interacting and taking part in the scenarios, asking us to come up with various reasons and excuses to counteract this unusual proposal. Once ready, we were then taken upstairs and ‘unleashed’ upon the waiting ladies and their unsuspecting question, complete with a Hendrick’s ‘guys only’ cocktails, the aptly named ‘Last Word’.

 

Violett and Sebastian going through the scenarios

Last Word

Glass
Rocks
Ingredients
20ml Hendrick’s Gin
20ml Maraschino Liqueur
20ml Green Chartreuse
20ml Fresh Lime Juice
Method
Combine all in shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into ice filled Rocks glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber.
Adapted from a cult classic cocktail – prohibition era. Created at the Detroit Athletic Club. Not that well documented, but normally served straight up in a martini glass. Shouldn’t work when you look on it on paper, but works a treat – nice balance of spirit, herbal and sweetness. Finish that lasts forever – and hopefully till your lady gives up!

Due to the amount of interaction Hendrick’s had us involved in, I have uploaded all the videos of the ‘lessons’ from both the ‘School of Nuptial Conquest’ and ‘School for Scoundrels’ here.

Check out my Facebook page for more photos of the event 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.

The Liquorists Seasonal Spirits Trail

Last night was the final installment of the year in The Liquorists busy calendar, the seasonal spirits trail! Following the same concept of their Vodka trail last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different spirits, 5 different cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Pear & Cinnamon Martini at The Lowry

Starting the night in the 5* Lowry Hotel and The River Bar & Restaurant in Manchester’s Chapel Wharf, we gathered in the bar’s Library, a quietly tucked away part of the bar which is perfect for events like this. Barry, of Epernay fame, would be our host for the evening, and after a brief introduction, explained to us why we had a shot of Bacardi in front of us. Whilst guiding us through the history of this well know rum, Pear and Cinnamon Martini’s were handed out along with soft vanilla cheesecake.  No sooner had we finished the lychee in the bottom of the glass, we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, Apotheca.

Southern Jam at Apotheca

Southern Comfort was the choice of spirit and one of my personal favourites dating back to my teenage years! Making our way to their basement bar with some fantastic canvases of the Manchester skyline, we enjoyed a shot of Southern Comfort with pieces of 80% dark cocoa that blended well, but became truly amazing with the cocktail ‘Southern Jam’, made with apricot jam, lemon juice, Chinese five-spice, cranberry juice and a double helping of Southern Comfort.

Long Winters Night at 24 Bar & Grill

 

 

24 Bar & Grill was the next port of call, with this stunning conversion of the previous namesake Obsidian, offering us the Dutch Ketel One Citron vodka to sip while their Christmas offering ‘Long Winters Night’ were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Lemon, cinnamon sugar syrup, cherry Cognac, Amaretto, sweet Vermouth and a dash of Bitters created a rather long and refreshing cocktail, all whilst munching on mince pies. From Barry’s homeland of Holland, to Cuba, Havana and their Barrell Proof was next to showcase themselves at Sandinista, with a Christmas classic Eggnog cocktail being served (mixed spice, cream, Havana Barrell Proof, sugar) while we munched on roasted chestnuts. All that was missing was a roaring fire! 

Eggnog at Sandinista

Our last bar for the night was in one of Manchester’s pop-up bars and venue to the winter ice-rink, The Moose Bar. The French orange liqueur Grand Marnier was sipped, while Grand Tommy cocktails were brought over to us amid pea and ham soup, ham hock terrine, pheasant and beef stew and sausage, crouton and cheese fondue. 

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Barry by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as a fan from the last trail, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with The Moose Bar and Sandinista his highlights. As for me, I’m already looking forward to January as The Liquorists announced their rum trails, with bars including Keko Moku, Hula, MOJO Rhum Room, The Liars Club and Sandinista on offer! 
 
Check out The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information and tickets.

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.