Bartenders Go Loco At Coco Lopez And El Dorado Cocktail Challenge

Mark Main's winning Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Mark Main of MOJO in Manchester has been named the overall winner in this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge. The Glaswegian mixologist took home £1,000 and after his El Coco Bru and Peanut Butter Jelly Time cocktails impressed the judges.

The hard-fought contest, compered by Lyndon Higginson at The Liar’s Club in Manchester and organised by Coco Lopez’s UK distributor Bennett Opie and El Dorado Rum in association with Hamilton Beach, also saw runner-up Ami St. Claire of Sohe in Newcastle win a bottle of 21 year-old El Dorado rum. Colette Abel of Be At One in Cardiff won a Hamilton Beach Fury blender for her Threena Colager, judged to be the best twisted piña colada in the competition.

Host and judge James Coston, from Bennett Opie, said: “Mark brought his A-game on the day; the Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge is judged on the humour and imagination of the presentation as well as the drinks themselves, and he had us all in stitches.

“His El Coco Bru twisted piña colada was topped with Irn Bru – and served in the can – in tribute to his Scottish heritage, and his Peanut Butter Jelly Time cocktail was actually two drinks in one, presented as a throwback to his school packed lunches complete with crisps, a chocolate bar and a tangerine!”

Sam Fish from El Dorado Rums said: “The finalists this year were all brilliant; the sheer creativity of their drinks and presentation makes this competition the most exciting and fun one to judge. The piña colada is one of the most difficult cocktails to master and we tasted some excellent ones on the day; it was great to see so many modern twists on a classic drink.”

As well as Sam Fish from El Dorado and James Coston from Bennett Opie, the judging panel also included the 2014 Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge Champion, Marco Piroli.

The ten finalists had each submitted two drinks to the competition. One had to be a twisted piña colada containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum, and had to be blended with a Hamilton Beach blender. The other was a cocktail of their choice, though it had to contain at least 20ml Coco Lopez and three or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.

The winning recipes:

Mark Main’s El Coco Bru

Ingredients: 50ml El Dorado 3 year old rum, 50ml Coco Lopez, 12.5ml Monin Blue Curacao liqueur, 12.5ml lime juice, 2 pineapple chunks 

Method: Blend ingredients and top with Irn Bru, then serve in an Irn Bru can.


Mark Main’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time


Peanut Butter:

37.5 El Dorado 5 year old rum, 37.5ml Coco Lopez,12.5ml lime juice, 25ml half and half, 3 bar spoons of peanut butter 


37.5ml El Dorado 3 year old rum, 12.5ml lime juice, 3 bar spoons of strawberry jam, Pinch of salt, Splash of Opies cherry juice

Method: Blend both drinks separately and serve in a lunch box with everything your mum used to put in; i.e. 3 chocolate bars, a bag of crisps and a tangerine.

Coco Lopez is available from good stockists including  For more information, contact the Bennett Opie sales team on 01795 476154 or visit


El Dorado Rums are available from good stockists including  For more information about the product, contact the Love Drinks sales team on

Top Tipples For Dad

Sipping and aged rums, beers brewed 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle and a cocktail seasoning to gee up a Gin & Tonic, these are just some of the top tipples we recommend for gifts for Father’s Day (or any day or relative for that matter!).

Transport Dad to the Caribbean with one sip of El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum, often voted the world’s best rum. Made with sugar cane grown on the banks of the Demerara River in Guyana, South America, El Dorado 12 Year Old is rich amber in colour with a super attractive nose, packed with aromas of sugar, honey, banana, toffee, raisins and sultanas.  The ripe, rich and balanced flavours deliver a sweetness after which the finish is delightful, elegant and dry.  A real stand-out on the drinks shelf. 

El Dorado 12 Year Old can be served on its own, with or without ice, or mixed into luxurious cocktails.  Why not use El Dorado in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Sazerac for alternative twist.

Where to buy: RRP: £38.54, Spirited Wines –

Where to try: For an El Dorado Old Fashioned, try Mojo Bars in either Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.  For an original drink inspired by a Sazerac and an Old Fashioned, head down to NOLA in London’s Shoreditch to try the VEP Rinse. Created by Katie Darling whilst she was working at Bellocq in New Orleans, the VEP Rinse uses El Dorado 12 Year Old, stirred down with sweet vermouth and bitters before being served on a Chartreuse VEP rinsed ice cubes and finished with a hint of lemon oil.  It’s a rich drink with a light sweetness and subtle herbal overtones. 

Staying on the rum front but moving up towards Bermuda, the home of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a family secret has been revealed.   Kept under lock and key for over 155 years, Gosling’s deep dark secret is the Family Reserve Old Rum.  Crafted to the same exacting standards as Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a key ingredient in the Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail, the Family Reserve Old Rum is left aging in once-used oak bourbon barrels until it has acquired an extra luscious, nuanced complexity, much like a rare Scotch or Cognac.

The bottle, which houses the Family Reserve Old Rum, pays homage to the champagne bottles that were salvaged from the British officers’ mess when the rum was first available.   They were sealed with black sealing wax and soon, people were asking for more of the ‘black seal rum’.  Today, each bottle is lovingly hand labelled, numbered, dipped in wax and placed in a straw-filled wooden box, reminiscent of days past.

Where to buy: RRP £54.35, The Whisky Exchange –

Where to try: Home to the world’s most premium rum and gin offering assembled under one roof, the Merchant House which is tucked away on Well Court just off Bow Lane, is the place to sample the Gosling’s Family Reserve. Nate, Lewis and their knowledgeable team will be able to recommend the best way to enjoy this excellent rum.

Einstök Icelandic Pale Ale is brewed just 60miles south of the Arctic Circle in Akureyi in Iceland and was created by the first Icelander in fifty years to study on the prestigious brewing program at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. 

Fresh from being awarded two gold medals at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition and the San Diego Beer Competition, Einstök Icelandic Pale Ale is the best of American and Bavarian craft beer traditions joined together with the finest Icelandic water to create this Viking version of the Pale Ale, where robust hoppiness meets smooth malty undertones. Cascade hops give it the American character, while Northern Brewer hops add just enough bitterness to make this ale refreshingly Icelandic.

Where to buy: 6 x330ml bottles of Einstök Pale Ale is £13.99 from Majestic Wine, or you can buy two cases for £10.99 each;pgid=p55Cu3.ZrPlSRpdgt0CuBIWd0000M_oCKeFC;sid=avfS_2GAc9Th_jTQDSXZ_VGK8hMUavlkrGJEURdh?tracking=|searchterm:Einstok

Where to try: Ever fancied a beer cocktail?  Pop down to Oskar’s Bar in Dabbous in Fitzrovia where Oskar Kinberg has created The Drink With No Name combines Woodford Reserve bourbon, greengage ginger ale, lemon and Einstök Pale Ale, all in one delicious drink.

With summer just around the corner, give Dad the tools to make the ultimate gin and tonic or vodka and tonic. Like adding salt and pepper to a meal to enhance food, the equivalent in the drinks world is a dash of cocktail bitters, which are made from aromatic oils, herbs and spices.  The Bitter Truth are committed to sourcing the very best ingredients in the world to create these tinctures which add depth of flavour, balance and aroma to drinks. 

The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters are easy to use and are a great and simple way to pep up a drink; just drop two dashes into your drink.  It’s especially good if your lime or lemon is looking a bit desperate, as the Tonic Bitters gives the drink a lovely sherbety taste.

Made with natural ingredients, Tonic bitters are made using Grapefruit, Sicilian lemon, lime and Seville oranges These leading flavours are backed up with herbal notes from juniper berries, coriander seeds  and spices such as mace creating a grassy-fresh bouquet like that of Japanese green tea.

Another bitter within the Bitter Truth range that is great for the home bar isThe Bitter Truth Orange Bitters. It provides an essential ingredient for classic cocktails such as the Martinez and the Manhattan and is also super with a few dashes dropped into a gin and tonic to bring out the citrus botanicals.

Where to buy: The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters are available from The Drink with an RRP of £14.42 as are The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters (£13.96):

Where to try: Shrub and Shutter in Brixton has just launched its new cocktail menu and uses The Bitter Truth Orange bitters to bring out the fruitiness of the rums in the Citizen Kane cocktail.  The cocktail is an old fashioned style drink using St George’s Agricole & Atlantico private cask, smoked sugar and angostura.

Enter The Coco Lopez And El Dorado Cocktail Challenge

A £1,000 cash prize is up for grabs for the winner of this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge, in association with Hamilton Beach , to be staged at The Liar’s Club in Manchester on Tuesday, March 18 from 3pm, on the first day of the Northern Restaurant & Bar Show.

Bartenders and mixologists should register as soon as possible for the competition, organised by Bennett Opie, which distributes Coco Lopez, a natural cream of coconut product, in the UK .

Opie’s cocktail expert James Coston said: “Competitors will need to submit two drinks. One must be a Twisted Pina Colada, the mixologist’s own twist on the classic cocktail, containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.

“The second can be a cocktail invention of their choice, though it must contain at least 20ml Coco Lopez, and again the three or five-year-old El Dorado Rum. Both drinks must be blended with a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender, which will be provided.”

James said the Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge was a test of all-round skills, imagination and wit.

“Banter and performance will score highly and ingredients, measurements, garnish and vessel are all determined by the bartender and can be as outrageous as you like,” he said. “The use of Bennett Opie cocktail cherries for garnish is highly recommended.”

Entrants should email James with their recipes. Judges will pick their 10 favourites and their creators will be invited to demonstrate them in the final.

“The best cocktail in the top 10 wins its creator the £1,000 prize and a bottle of 21-year-old El Dorado Rum,” said James. “The creator of the best Pina Colada wins a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender.”

Entrants should email James Coston at with their recipes by midnight on Saturday, March 1 with the following information:

Name of competitor
Name and location of the bar where you work
Email address
Contact phone number
Ingredients in ml
Method (of second drink)
Cocktail names

The top 10 entrants will be contacted by email at noon on Saturday, March 8 and invited to the March 18 final.

For further information visit the Coco Lopez Cocktail Challenge Facebook page.

Coco Lopez is available from good stockists including For more information about the product, contact the Bennett Opie sales team on 01795 476154 or visit

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.



Corks Out Winter Tasting, Manchester Review

Last week carried on something that has been proving popular in recent years – the Corks Out tasting evenings. Back with a bang at the Castlefield Rooms in Manchester, they brought along with them a host of brands in both wine, Champagne and spirits. With the promise of a wide selection from producers including Morton, Franschhoek and Cattier as well as spirits that included El Dorado rum, Hayman’s gin and Auchentoshan whisky, you’d think there would be plenty to go around. Oh no. To cap off the selection, Wrenbury cider were at the Castlefield Room’s to shed a bit of local prestige to the afternoon’s proceedings. With the Corks Out team on hand to lend their expertise to the public, an afternoon turned quickly into an evening of not only being given the chance to try bottles that ranged from £6.99 to £39.99, but also the opportunity to purchase on the night and to learn the trade by signing up to their collaboration with Manchester Wine School. With much to experience, I tried to keep to brands and styles that I had either never come across or had not previously had the chance to sample, so below I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Franschhoek Statue De Femme Sauvignon Blanc 2012, South Africa – 13.5%

Tangy tropical and citrus aromas on the nose with hints of grapefruit and pineapple present on the palate. Considerable length.

Franschhoek Vineyard Barrel Fermented Semillon 2011, South Africa – 13.5%

Ripe tropical fruit and tangy citrus on the nose entwined with vanilla and spice on the palate.

Franschhoek Stone Bridge Pinotage 2010, South Africa – 13.5%

Nose of pepper, spice and bright red berry fruit. Soft on the palate, with red fruit and slight vanilla blending on the palate.

Franschhoek The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, South Africa – 14%

Lots of dark berries on the nose with blackcurrant and dark chocolate melting on the palate.

Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Argentina – 14.5%

Fresh and fruity on the nose with lots of spice lingering whilst the palate enjoys a splash of sweet tropical fruits.

Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2009, Argentina – 14.5%

A mix of vanilla, spice and red fruit on the nose, yet soft once it reaches the palate with dark fruit to create a long finish.

Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc 2012, New Zealand – 13.5%

Lots of ripe tropical fruit on the nose and creates a fresh, long finish on the palate.

Cypress Terraces Chardonnay 2010, New Zealand – 14.1%

Soft melon and peach notes on the nose develop into more grapefruit characteristics on the palate.

Two Rivers Pinot Noir 2010, New Zealand – 13.9%

Bold aroma of spice and dried fruits on the nose leading to an herbal palate mixed with red fruit.

Cypress Terraces Syrah 2008, New Zealand – 14.2%

Strong nose of pepper to begin with a hint of plum following. A mix of chocolate and dark fruits blending on the palate.

Weemala Pinot Gris 2011, Australia

Almond and peach dominate the nose with apple making an appearance on the palate. Rather sweet but a dry finish.

Picaroon Margaret River Sauvignon / Semillon 2011, Australia – 13%

Lots of citrus and herbal aromas on the nose with a fresh hit of blackberry and lemon around the palate.

Logan Shiraz 2009, Australia

Aroma of pepper, mixed berries and plums with a full flavour hit on the palate that has a long spiced finish.

Orben Rioja 2007, Spain – 14%

On the nose there’s lots of bold plum and cherry notes mixing well with the ripe fruit on the palate and hints of spice coming through.

Pouilly Fume Domaine du Petit Soumard 2011, France – 12.5%

Strong honey note on the nose followed by a blend of apple and gooseberry on the palate.

Sancerre Charmilles 2011, France – 12.5%

Lots of citrus aromas on the nose with a sharp palate of grapefruit flavours.

Chateau du Terrefort Lescalle 2010, France – 12.5%

Blackcurrant and plums heavily present on both the nose and palate for this easy drinking wine.

Dasvin Bel Air Haut Medoc 2008, France – 12.5%

Fresh red fruit on the nose becoming mouth-watering on the palate with a good length.

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2009, South Africa – 14%

Creamy nose with hints of almonds coming through. Lots of citrus flavours on the palate.

A range of spirits were also on offer

The Chocolate Block 2011, South Africa – 14%

Bold spice on the nose is instant with a blend of ripe plum and dark fruits blending onto the palate. Long finish.

Portia Ebeia Ribera del Duero 2010, Spain – 13%

Fresh on the nose with hints of raspberry that develops once onto the palate. Vanilla is also present as it nears the end.

Pyrat XO Rum – 40%

Tropical fruits and oranges on the nose with an instant hit of banana and sweet orange on the palate that creates a long finish.

Patron XO Cafe – 35%

Instant blend of coffee and sugar on the nose, but smooth once it hits the palate. Velvet texture that becomes long with a slight dryness at the end.

Glen Garioch Founders Reserve – 48%

A light, corn led aroma on the nose, with sweet vanilla, fresh green fruit and citrus on the palate that creates a fresh finish.

Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Classic Blend – 40%

Spice and mixed berries on the nose with a sweet yet light palate of citrus and honey.

Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Rare – 43%

Lots of floral notes with pepper and citrus also making an appearance on the nose. A rich, malt flavour on the palate with a hint of honey for a long finish.

Cava De Don Agustin Reposado  – 38%

Deep nose of agave and herbs with sweet, earthy flavours present on the palate with hints of wood following.

Calvados Pere Magloire VSOP – 40%

Heavy apple aroma on the nose with a crisp, fresh flavour bursting on the palate. Well rounded.

Hayman’s Sloe Gin – 26%

Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.

El Dorado 5yr – 40%

Dry nose of tropical fruits leads to caramel and coconut with hints of vanilla at the end of a long offering.

El Dorado Finest Demerera 12yr – 40%

Tropical fruits on the nose with a small hint of spice lingering around. The spice is more known on the palate with rich fruits complimenting to a dry finish.

Gosling’s Family Reserve – 40%

Dried fruit and oak notes on the nose with a rich flavour of prunes and dark fruits on the palate with a hint of smokiness that creates a mellow finish.

An incredible selection that covers a host of countries including Argentina, France, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a Calvados for good measure.

The event was a great chance to not only try something different in a variety of categories, but also the opportunity to talk to both the ladies and gentleman behind the brands and Ruth Yates herself who was more than willing to chat to anyone and everyone about her favourite hobby.

The Park Royal Winter Tasting will be next on the agenda, and I strongly suggest you get yourself down. Get involved!

Check out more photos from the event 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 Rum Trail 3 Review

Last night was the beginning of something which is now familiar within the Manchester bar and restaurant scene, so familiar in fact that it’s now accustomed to hear the words “so how many have you been on?” when meeting like-minded drinks enthusiasts for the first time. I am of course talking about The Liquorists and their spirit trails. I myself have seven trails to my name (six for your viewing pleasure are located under ‘The Liquorists header down the right-hand side), with The Liquorists bringing along their 3rd installment of the world of rum to add to the ever-growing list of categories explored. This time however, they’ve gone one better. Last night was the start of an unprecedated 6 bars compared to their usual gather of 5, with the sixth being described by Tom Sneesby as ‘something a little bit special’.

Tom, one of the founders of The Liquorists, had myself and eleven other food and drink fanatics meet at one of Manchester’s well-known Tiki bars, Hula. Located along Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter, this basement den of cocktails rum and good cheer, complete with beach huts, sand and a tropical fish tank started our night off with Plantation rum. Part of a collection of unique Caribbean treasures, every barrel is individually sampled and only those that show traditional characteristics of the area of production are selected for bottling. This soft rum is aged in oak barrels for a number of years before being transported to cellars in Cognac, France where they are finished in Cognac casks. This well-balanced result was perfect for our cocktail creation, Atlantic Boat Club Daiquiri, and the fruits of banana and toasted pineapple. Next on the agenda was the short trip to Keko Moku, Manchester’s original Tiki bar. Huddled around wooden barrels with El Dorado 12yr being handed out, fire was being produced for a customers rum fuelled cocktail which does beg the question of ‘how is this place still standing?’. All is soon forgotten though with the Sanguine Swizzle cocktail which involves the Guyana based El Dorado 12yr and Blood Orange housed in a jam jar. Blended from different vintages, the age statement of the El Dorado works the same way as whisky produced in Scotland – it indicates the youngest rum in the blend, even though the oldest may be many years older.

Speaking of age-statements, Odd Bar was our next port of call. Having been in the Manchester scene for seven years now, Odd gave us a surprising insight into how a non-cocktail venue achieves some good times when it comes to enjoying rum. The Dominican Republic based Matusalem was their rum of choice, with a tot of the Clasico 10yr being enjoyed by all as we sat around their corner booth. Mojito marinated chicken skewers were handed out to compliment next which can only be described as ‘Odd’. Having a tot of Matusalem Platino in one glass and Steerage ale by the brewery Titanic in the other, the idea was to take a sip of each one after another. A good idea, but one that seemed to divide the group in half! Going from old to new next with Tusk being our home for a splash of Wrey and Nephew. This relatively new bar is next door to the equally sharp Walrus, and houses comfy leather sofas, fish tanks, and enough over-proof rum to floor a rhino . . . . or walrus. At 63% abv, water was on stand-by to ‘soften the blow’, as were truffles and homemade sticky toffee pudding. To counteract to a sweet-tooths delight, we were created a Hipster Daiquri that came with a lime infused salt rim a’la Margarita style!
With the rum flowing around the room, and with a slight tequila sense mixed in, we crossed the road to one of Northern Quarters newest bar and restaurant, The Blue Pig. This lively venue was enjoying its soft opening (with the launch night happening tonight) but you could easily mistake The Blue Pig for having been open for months. The bustle of the diners mingled with the bar patrons next to the Parisian influenced decor, as we ourselves sipped away at Apple Daiquiri’s using Brugal as its base. Alongside this Dominican Republic rum came a platter of homemade cheese, pickled pear, duck pate and pistachio meat with a jar of juniper and apple chutney on the side. However, no sooner had we enjoyed the flavours of the last sip, we were being whisked away to our last place on the tour – 22 Redbank.

Hipster Daiquiri in Tusk

This is The Liquorists HQ, the ‘something a little bit special’ that Tom had mentioned at the start of the night. To commemorate this, a bottle of the original navy strength Pussers rum was opened and poured for our taste-bud pleasures. At 54.5% abv it was one to make you stand up and listen! Navy style mugs were handed out too with the aptly named Painkiller being served side by side to a cocktail umbrella and Thai curry and satay to finish off. Lounging about in the HQ in comfy chairs and sofas was a fitting end to a night of various styles of both rums, bars and restaurants. I for one have never experienced The Blue Pig or Tusk since they have been open, but will be making my way back their post-haste. As for the rums, personal highlights were the El Dorado 12yr and Plantation, with Brugal closely following. Compared to their last rum trail, it was good to see and experience a new set of rum brands compared to ones that you can easily pick up from any pub or bar. That’s the beauty about The Liquorists and their trails – sauce sessions with a difference.

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

For more information on The Liquorists and their spirit trails, check out their website and Facebook page.

Check out last nights fellow enthusiasts too – Manchester Bars, North West Nosh, Mancunian Matters, Old Fashioned Susie and Melanie Hughes.

© 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.