Manchester Rum Festival Returns For Third Year

Teaser Poster

Rum advocate and Manchester based Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast is bringing back Manchester Rum Festival for a 3rd year running, hosting it at the new event and exhibition space Brickworks, within Barton Arcade on Deansgate.

Saturday 8th June 2019 will see an expansion of the previous two sold-out festivals, resulting in both an afternoon and evening session for the first time, with ticket prices frozen from the 2018 festival, staying at £20 per person.


The festival, created by Dave in 2017 to show that Manchester and the North of England are contributing in a major way to the growing rum category, will feature for the first time a seminar room that will house some of the world’s best rum speakers, brand owners and cocktail bartenders.

It will also see the return of Revolución de Cuba as the festivals bar supporter, offering a variety of rum cocktails through their Cuban bar experience. The in-house festival shop will also be present once again, this time hosted by Marigot Bay Bar and Café, the latest venture opened by Dave in July 2018 in Altrincham. Alston Bar and Beef are also returning as one of the festival’s food vendors.


Exhibitors will be announced over the coming months through the festival website and social media pages, as well as further activities around the city.

To purchase tickets, visit

Dave has been involved in the drinks industry for 12 years, working with a variety of rum brands and companies to expand their business into the North of England, culminating in Manchester Rum Festival in 2017 and Caribbean inspired venue Marigot Bay Bar and Café in 2018. The announcement of the 3rd festival comes on-the-heels of Dave earning a top 4 position in the 2018 Rum Barrel Awards for UK Rum Advocate of the Year.

A Look At Garden Of Earthly Delights At Elixir, Tonics & Treats

Elixir Camper Van

This week saw one of the relatively new bars to hit Manchester launch its summer drinks menu with a ‘The Garden of Earthly Delight’s’ theme. Not one to just hope for the best, Elixir Tonics & Treats showed off their creations for a two-hour period on a warm Friday evening, allowing friends and VIP’s to sample and experience. But it wasn’t just their new menu that was to be launching that evening, but also their new event and exhibition space, located underneath the main floor.

To the new menu first.


Favourites such as the Apollo Daiquiri have been saved onto the new version, and is now nestled between names such as Rambling Bramble (£9 – white grain spirit, juniper and sage syrup, lemon juice and a float-your-own Chambord miniature) and The Bee Keeper (£9.50 – gin, apple liqueur, honey, apple and lemon juice). A simple, yet perfect summer cocktail had to be the Forget-Me-Not (£10.50 for mini-pro’s, £14.50 to share). A blend of violet liqueur, lavender syrup and Prosecco with a blackberry garnish offered something a little more perfumed to the usual sparkling option. I must say though, what do you think the setting would be to enjoy one of these? Garden? Terrace? Pool? How about something that the team at Elixir Tonics & Treats decided to conjure up – a fitted out camper van! Parked outside the venue on Deansgate, Manchester, the Caribbean-esque feel to the inside made it the perfect place to enjoy the starter cocktail to the evening.

The camper van became my home for the second cocktail to sample too, the Jasmine Cascade (£8.50). This came with a dose of BLOOM gin, green Chartreuse, jasmine syrup, lemon and apple and complete with a sprig of rosemary to garnish. For effect, and to be fair garnish as well, it came equipped to be cascaded over dry ice and billowing jasmine aromatic oils. Subtle flavours, well-rounded, with the drink not being out-done by the theatrics.

Flutter Bye
Flutter Bye

One signature that Elixir Tonics & Treats have accomplished since their opening has been the accompaniments to their creations. Whether it’s stress balls or mini elixirs to change your mood, they’ve offered something that relates to the drink in hand. This has become more evident with the likes of the Flutter Bye (£8). A coupette glass nestled on a patch of grass, complete with edible chocolate ladybird and butterfly attached to the side. The drink itself is a compliment of flavours. Stolichnaya Citrus, elderflower & rose liqueur, egg white and apple juice work perfectly to create a velvet texture on the palate. Light, refreshing and aesthetically pleasing.

I mentioned in my review of Elixir Tonics & Treats last year that the bar was to be exactly what Manchester needed. Unique, different and just that little bit of quirky that consumers are after sometimes. Refreshing the menu is always a hit, but can ultimately just become a phase. Elixir Tonics & Treats new one though, has plenty to talk about, and many intriguing recipes to try. They entice you, which is surely what you want when choosing somewhere to go?

Speaking of choosing somewhere. Are you, or will you, be looking for an event space to hold a shindig? Look no further than beneath the floors of Elixir Tonics & Treats! A large, spacious floor can be converted to accommodate your needs and budget. Launched as of this week, they have been showing off the various options, including bar sizes and opportunities, seating set-outs and audio / visual availability. It’s worked for me, it’s the space I’ll be using to host my annual Liquor Market in September. It ticks all the boxes I need to run a successful event, so I can only imagine that you will go away impressed if you ever get the chance to check it out.

Make sure you do it with a cocktail in hand too.

For more photos from the re-launch, please visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.


Design My Night Manchester Award Winners Announced!

The results are in for the Design My Night Awards here in Manchester. So without delay, lets see who made some good vibrations in the city –

Best Bar 2014 – Kosmonaut, Northern Quarter

Exposed brick, leather seats, banging drinks…dentist chairs; the Northern Quarter’s Kosmonaut has everything a great bar should have, and some. Multi-faceted Kosmonaut serves up food, parties and plenty of good times, helping it to scoop the Best Bar gong in this year’s awards!

Best Club 2014 – Joshua Brooks, Oxford Road

A full blown party palace, the award for Best Club in Manchester this year goes to the one and only, Joshua Brooks! A popular choice with party kids all over the city, this relatively small club packs one helluva punch with banging DJs and acts on show week in, week out. Here’s to you, Mr Brooks!

Best Pub 2014 – The Marble Arch, Ancoats

Traditional, historic, and let’s face it, pretty damned lovable; The Marble Arch was our runaway winner scooping the Best Pub award this year. Featuring local ales, gorgeous food and an old-school friendly ambience, The Marble Arch is a Manchester institution.

Best Pop Up 2014 – Long Bar, Spinningfields

If you thought pop ups were just for the summertime, you sir, are wrong. Long Bar was previously only intended to stick around for the summer months but down to public demand, is with us for the winter too. Spacious and sleek, this Spinningfield nugget wins the Best Pop Up accolade.

Dusk til Pawn


The ‘Hidden Gem’ Award 2014 – Dusk til Pawn, Northern Quarter

Is there a better place to hide a bar, than in a pawn shop? Doubt it. Dusk til Pawn wins this year’s Hidden Gem award for being the most covert operation in Manchester. Once you actually find the place, you’ll be happy to hear the tunes a’playing, the cocktails a’pouring and the good times rolling.

Best Interior Design 2014 – Terrace, Northern Quarter

Vintage school furniture, low hanging lights and an alpine lodge bar? No wonder Terrace NQ was voted the Best Interior Design. Though gorgeous, with live music, tasty drinks and lively DJ nights as part of their offering too, Terrace NQ is more than just a pretty face.

Best Live Music Venue 2014 – Soup Kitchen, Northern Quarter

Soup, sandwiches and awesome live music? Yes please! The Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter is a bustling cafe by day, but their weekend live music prowess is nothing short of legendary. From big acts to local talent, The Soup Kitchen is a deserved winner of the Best Live Music Venue Award.

Best Beer Garden 2014 – The Oast House, Spinningfields

Come rain or shine, the Oast House is a popular choice in Manchester for a drink or two. Their beer garden is lit with lanterns and enjoys an authentically cool ambience in the face of some of its more stuffier neighbours. Best Beer Garden 2014 goes to the Oast House.

Best Cocktail Bar 2014 – Elixir Tonic & Treats, Deansgate

Deansgate’s wonderfully quirky Elixir Tonics & Treats has won your hearts and minds to take the Best Cocktail Bar award. Retro-tastic, Elixir is a relative newcomer to the scene but its forward thinking hosting and delectable drinks, have paved the way to victory!



Best Cocktail Menu 2014 – Under New Management, Deansgate

Formerly Corridor, Under New Management is a secretive cocktail haunt in the Salford area with a drinks offering that’s helped it to win the Best Cocktail Menu award. Offering both signature and bespoke beauties, if you can find it, Under New Management is the cocktail connoisseurs’ first choice.

Best Late Night Bar 2014 – The Liars Club, Deansgate

Who would have ever guessed a tiki bar would go down so well in Manchester? The Liars Club is a solid party bar that stays open way past our bed times and if the voting is anything to go by, it’s safe to say we all love its wild ways! Grab a Zombie cocktail and dance the night away; you can worry about the hangover when you’re getting up for work. The Liars Club wins the Best Late Night Bar Award!

Best Fun Time Party Bar 2014 – The Deaf Institute, Oxford Road

Raucous, fun-loving and wild, Deaf Institute takes the Best Fun Time Party Bar award. Drink, laugh and dance at this Manchester favourite, which has not 1, not 2, but 3 different bar areas! PARTY ON.

Best Experience 2014 – The Warehouse Project, Trafford Park

Unless you live under a rock, you might have heard of this small little gathering. Warehouse Project is at the forefront of the UK rave scene, and 2013 was another big year. You spoke, and we listened. The Warehouse Project wins The Best Experience this year.

Best New Bar 2014 – Rosylee Tea Rooms, Northern Quarter

The competition in this category was fierce, but after the votes were counted, Rosylee Tea Rooms scooped the Best New Bar Award. A cutesy tea room with the added arsenal of a fully fledged cocktail bar makes this little urban hub one bar not to mess with. Glam, chic and let’s face it, adorable, The Rosylee Tea Rooms is a deserved winner.

Best All-in-One Venue 2014 – Gorilla, Oxford Road

No monkeying around, Gorilla is a venue on a mission. Boasting club nights, tasty hot dogs and slamming cocktails, there’s not much this wonder-bar can’t do. With that in mind, it’s no wonder Gorilla was voted the best All-In-One Venue this year. Make sure you visit for a dance, bite to eat, drink, gig, the list goes on…

Elixir Tonics & Treats

Elixir Tonics & Treats

I do love Manchester when it comes to its bar scene, there’s always something new opening, and this past Thursday was no different. The guys behind event and mobile bar company Escapade Bars have gone for something a little more static in the shape and form of Elixir Tonics & Treats.

Located on the easy to remember 123 Deansgate, the venture aims to bridge the gap between Spinnningfields and the Northern Quarter. With backing by Escapade Director Dan Purnell (ex beverage manager at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7* hotel, and general manager of  popular Manchester private members club Sugar Lounge) and his partner Jaime Wilkinson who will be acting as General Manager of the bar, they aim to combine a wealth of knowledge and experience of both Manchester and the drinks industry into an experience that the city has quite frankly never seen before.

Saints and Sinners
Saints and Sinners

The setting is stripped back. White painted brickwork with stencilled artwork on top, complete with low-level cast iron light fittings give it that New York meets London feel. Comfy sofas and chairs look inviting, but the bar is the most striking, with its dark wooden compartments showcasing some of the very best spirits to be found. Labelled with the words ‘Tonics and Treats’ at the top, and met with well-dressed and presentable staff (not a t-shirt in sight), you’re obliged to take a look at the menu with quite frankly some awe and amazement.

For example, take the Saints and Sinners (£8). A mix of Manzanilla Sherry, limoncello, gin and grape syrup, finished with a gold leaf sugar rim and grape skewer. To see a sherry based cocktail on any menu is a surprise, but to make it work? Well, it worked for me, and I’m not acquainted well with sherry as I am with other spirits. It just seemed to work, and you could get each flavour coming through at different parts of the experience.

Another cocktail under its ‘Purgatory to Paradise’ section is the Apollo Daiquiri (£9). I’m always a little dubious when it comes to twists on classics, but they’ve nailed it with this a five ingredient drink – gin, rhum agrigole and clement creole, lime and sugar, blended and served within a small cocktail glass. The stem held in place on a metal platform, and a doily to add character. It’s the little things sometimes.

To give you an idea of what else Elixir Tonics & Treats have to offer, I only need to mention names such as Mr Bertoux’s Sip (£8), a variation on the classic Side Car cocktail using Couvoisier Exclusif, orange liqueur and lemon juice finished with gold leaf, sugar rim and an orange twist. Best of all, you can ‘add intensity with our unique pipette injections flavoured with Orange Flower Water, Marc de Champagne or Lemon Droplets.’ Or how about the Earl’s Breakfast (£8.50) which combines Chase Smoked vodka, Briotett Triple Sec, Earl grey syrup, lemon and a spoonful of Marmalade, garnished with smoked cheese on toasted cracker-bread.

Elixir Tonics and Treats
Elixir Tonics and Treats

You could also go for a treat within their ‘Specialities’. La Petite Voliere or The Little Birdcage (£40) is a sharing cocktail housed within a birdcage. Here you will find an array of luxurious chocolates and truffles from the bars very own bespoke chocolatier. You can then enjoy Elixir’s petite cocktails in mini coupes which you can choose yourself!

Elxir Tonics & Treats will impress. There’s no turning to the classics that you’ve had time and time again, they’re introducing something new, and from what I’ve tried so far, I can not agree highly enough. They’ve bridged the gap alright, and built a fort on top. Elixir Tonics & Treats may have just set the bar with pulling off imagination.

Oh, and whatever your mood, ask for Mood Enhancing Elixirs on the House. Gems and crystals that have been used for healing purposes for centuries, where you can add a few drops of their own home-made tinctures to your drink. ‘They may alter your mood, they may open your mind’ the guys say, either way you can choose from Motivation, Determination, Clarity, Concentration, Anti-depressant, Calming or Prosperity.

Who needs London.

I’ve been back to check out their summer menu launch in June 2014. Click here to see what delights they offer now.

© 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.

3 Twenty One Review

3 Twenty One

A new Smokehouse has popped up in Manchester in the form of 3 Twenty One. Located on Deansgate, on top of the Deansgate pub, the promise of  “smoking the finest cuts of meat this side of town!” stood out as myself and my girlfriend (who we shall now call Miss J) were invited down to try out their delights.

Apple and Mint Collins
Apple and Mint Collins

Walking through the pub below to the side staircase with the 3 Twenty One logo emblazoned on the wall, you walk up to the double doors which leads into a L-shaped room, bar to the left,  open kitchen to the right and outside seating behind. A nice set out, with what seems to be the main dining area full of square tables located to the right in front of the kitchen, and booths and high tables in front of the bar to the left. White wooden paneling adorns each wall, with frames of black and white Manchester hanging above, it gave that feeling of simplicity mixed with tradition. Looking over the cocktail menu, I went for the classic Manhattan (£8) – rye whisky, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters ‘stirred to perfection’. It was good, but it could have had a little longer stirred. It seemed the vermouth sunk to the bottom near the end. Miss J went for the Apple and Mint Collins (£7) – Hayman’s gin shaken with mint, apple juice, fresh lemon and egg whites topped with soda and dressed with a tree of mint. She made the observation of the mint overpowering everything, and that she just couldn’t taste the gin, the main ingredient she was after. Those two aside, the menu itself looks very gin and vodka heavy, with a couple of rum and bourbon drinks thrown in. The Lemongrass and Vanilla Collins (£7) sounded like a good call though –  infused lemongrass vodka, Licor 43, fresh lemon juice, topped with Goslings ginger beer.

The food was the highlight of the night though. Scanning over the menu, you’re treated to 8oz rump burgers, pizza, salads and, of course, from the grill. The starters looked as equally impressive, with a choice including Big Boy Sticky Barbequed Ribs (£5.95) smoked in-house finished in a bourbon glaze and served with house slaw, as well as Mr. Holden’s Manchester Egg (£5.50) which are hens egg wrapped in Bury black pudding, pork mince and crispy bread crumb, served with Manchester caviar and maple streaky bacon crisp. I though went for the Barbequed King Prawns (£7.50) with smoked garlic & chilli butter, served with warm bread whilst Miss J went for Chicken Wings … With a Twist (£5.95) – boneless wings smoked in-house, served with house slaw and blue cheese dipping sauce. The King prawns were juicy, crunchy and went perfect with the warm bread, plus it soaked up any left over juice. The chicken wings seemed to go down a treat too, finishing with two clear plates that had arrived on time with no wait needed.

10oz Rump
10oz Rump

For mains, Miss J opted for the Salmon (£12.95), a darn which was lightly rubbed with thyme whilst i went for the 10oz Rump (£14.95) , both served with vine cherry tomatoes, field mushroom, watercress and a bucket of both seasoned skinny fries and sweet potato fries. Both well presented, the salmon looking as full and impressive as it could be whilst my rump steak was cooked to perfection (medium rare) with the juices flowing. Bursts of flavour with each mouthful meant I had to reign myself from finishing it too quickly (always a good sign surely), whilst the salmon seemed to be enjoyed with immense pleasure. Again, two clean plates. I’m sure other dishes like the Smoked Goat’s Cheese Pizza (£7.50), Pulled BBQ Pork 8 oz Burger (£8.95) or Swordfish Salad (£9.95) would have had the same effect too.

Leaving just enough room for dessert, Miss J decided for the Baked Blueberry and Vanilla Cheese Cake with berry compote (£4.95) and i had the Cheshire Farm Ice-Cream (£3.95) with chocolate and white chocolate flavours. Fantastic! The ice-cream came in the traditional sundae bowl with chocolate dusting, whilst the cheesecake didn’t look bare on its long plate as she received a hefty slice. Cappucino’s (£2.50) were ordered afterwards as we settled our stomachs and both agreeing we couldn’t eat another drop.

3 Twenty One lived up to its hype since opening last week. The food on all three courses were fantastic, cooked the way you’d expect. The service was good too. Nothing too much of a hassle and everything came within reasonable time. My only concern would be the cocktails. They’re good, but maybe I went into it with high expectations. Although I’ve only tried two from the menu, I’d still go back and see if any others change my view. I’d also have to go on a night of no live music. I’ve never been a fan to be fair, but when I can’t hear the person opposite me, it’s ruins a first time experience.

© 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.

Pitcher and Piano Review

Last night, myself and two friends decided to take advantage of a rare night off together and head into Manchester’s Deansgate Locks for a bite to eat at Pitcher and Piano. Located along a strip of railway arches that carries the Metrolink line above, it incorporates two floors, both with outdoor seating overlooking the canal. On a rainy night though, inside is a lot more inviting, with comfy leather boothed seating dotted around between the two large rooms.

New Yorker Burger

After browsing their menu of homemade burgers, mains and salads, I went for their ultimate burger – The New Yorker (£13.45). Two 4oz beef burgers, one chicken breast, two rashers of dry-cured bacon, Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar and beef chilli. A BBQ burger (8oz beef burger, dry-cured bacon and Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar topped with jalapeños and BBQ sauce – £9.95) and Halloumi Salad (Pan-fried halloumi cheese, roasted butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, radicchio, sunflower seeds and lemon & caper dressing – £8.95) were also ordered along with a round of drinks involving Brookyln Lager (5.2%) for myself. I’ve tried Brooklyn lager before when I was last at Odder bar, it’s a light malt, soft with a slight dryness. There was a lovely roast malt aroma being released on the aftertaste and was a very easy drinker!

Our burgers arrived, presented stacked high with a small bowl of skinny fries on the side. Toppings of beef chilli dripping over the sides of the burger made this an impossible one to eat without the use of a knife and fork, but the size of the burger would deter the most able person. Piping hot through out, with the fries never once becoming stone cold. For an ultimate burger, it was finished rather quickly, yet it was the right amount to decline a dessert and also to not feel like your craving more. A good sign!

We finished our visit chatting in the surroundings of this rather cosy environment, with some ambient music and the company of a few couples dotted around. It felt relaxed, which after a day in Manchester, is sometimes what you need before the commute home. And if your me, you’d have in your hand a Patron Coffee over ice. Heaven. We didn’t stick around to sample their drink delights this time, but I’ll be back – I noticed a Raspberry Sherbert (Bacardi Superior Rum, Chambord and Disaronno Amaretto shaken with lime and cranberry juice) that has my name all over it!


To check out more from Pitcher and Piano in Manchester, including venue hire and bookings, 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.