El Gato Negro is to step back in time with an exclusive evening of social (and secret) drinking pleasure to toast Repeal Day on December 5. The day when Prohibition – a ban on the manufacture and sale of alcohol – came to an end in 1933.
Food and wine aficionados are invited to take part in the clandestine event, which will be held in the acclaimed Black Cat – the upstairs bar at the top of the heritage building with Manchester’s only retractable roof. Treasures sourced from local antique dealers, add character and vintage glamour – a perfect Prohibition hideaway.
Guests can shake their tail feathers behind blacked out windows to live swing band The Prohibition Swing Club or sit back and take in the speakeasy flavour with specially created cocktails. The exclusive cocktail menu will include the Bee’s Knees, a delicious blend of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, wild blossom honey and orange blossom, the White Water Rickey, a chilled mix of Buffalo Trace Bourbon and homemade strawberry iced tea soda and the Branca Brew, a dark blend of Fernet-Branca, fig liqueur and dry lager.
Though the full recipe is a secret, Fernet is made from a number of herbs and spices. It was handily classified as ‘medicinal’ during the Prohibition era, cementing its popularity in San Francisco and elsewhere. Do like the San Franciscans do this Repeal Day and give your merrymaking a healthy makeover.
The intimate event at the Black Cat starts at 1900. No booking is required, but access is recommended via the backdoors on South King Street in order to elude prying eyes. Discounts will be offered to those who have secured the secret passcode or to those in 1920’s glad rags.
El Gato Negro is to join the worldwide fiesta celebrating the unique Sherry Wines of southern Spain as it hosts the official launch of International Sherry Week on Monday 7th November, in conjunction with Sherry Wines UK.
Food and wine aficionados are invited to take part in the event, which will be held in the acclaimed Black Cat – the upstairs bar at the top of the heritage building with Manchester’s only retractable roof. Guests will sample the diversity of Jerez Wines and enjoy new and emerging trends in cocktail making, including a Sherry Masterclass, hosted by Federico Sanchez-Pece, Brand Manager of Bodegas Lustau.
The Black Cat will also unveil an exclusive cocktail menu for the week. Specially created cocktails will include the Pimento Fino, a delicious Fino Sherry paired with Padron Pepper Liquor, the Chamomile Snapper, a chilled mix of Manzanilla Sherry, plum tomatoes and gin and the Grenache, a dark blend of Amontillado Sherry, Dark Rum and Walnut Bitters.
Manchester’s discerning drinkers know that good food works even better paired with a good drink. The very finest Sherries will be offered with bites to match. Specially selected food pairings will be on offer across all floors of the restaurant, with the Ground Floor Bar offering its own unique menu for the week.
Adam Day, Head Bartender, said of the event: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host the launch of the 3rd International Sherry Week at the Black Cat. Sherry is one of the most emblematic elements of Spanish culture and one that has long been associated with tapas. We’re looking forward to taking our guests’ palates on a journey with an adventurous array of Jerez Wines, Sherry cocktails and pairings.”
For the first time, Sherry Wines UK will launch a nationwide schedule of events for International Sherry Week 7-13 November across four different cities, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh, with each one hosting unique Sherry events.
The event at the Black Cat runs from 1800-2000. With limited places available, booking is required. Tickets are priced at £20 per person – the event will include three cocktails and small bites to complement. For more information please visit www.sherry.wine/sherryweek.
The team at Buffalo Trace came around to Manchester once again to host their annual cocktail competition, but armed with a twist that saw the bartenders of the North West face a variety of challenges in a couple of unique settings.
Hosted at El Gato Negro, the competitors found their way to the final by offering a unique Buffalo Trace serve, but knowing that if they got through, a set of challenges awaited them. Hailing from the likes of Epernay in Manchester, Salt Dog Slims in Liverpool and Filter and Fox, also in Liverpool, the competitors were joined by UK Brand Ambassador Tim Giles, who alongside his team at Hi-Spirits (the UK distributor of Buffalo Trace) of Ross and Jack, set the day off with a ‘Buffalo Migration Tour’. Asking the bartenders to work on their starting clue, this led them to one of four venues across the city of Manchester, where once found, they were set a task that would test the knowledge of each individual when it came to the world of Buffalo Trace.
Tasks included getting the correct barrel maturation letters and numbers out of a series of 8 to choose from, a blind tasting of a selection of the Sazerac whisky range, including Buffalo Trace, as well as the family tree of the company itself. If correct, the competitor receives the key to the mystery box that contains items that can be used within their migration cocktail, if wrong, they have to pick an item, but not one you would necessarily find within a classic whiskey cocktail!
Once all 4 challenges have been completed, a rendezvous back at El Gato Negro kicked off the main portion of the cocktail competition, as each competitor had to re-create their Pioneering American cocktail that they entered with, as well as a Buffalo Trace cocktail using the ingredients won (or lost) over the four challenges.
With myself, Tim and last years competition winner Joe Ballinger judging, each competitor showed off their skills in creation, as well as their knowledge of Buffalo Trace and the links from this to their ideas, both in the original recipe, as well as their quick-fire migration cocktail.
The top three will be showcased here today, so in third place saw Liverpool represent with Beth Leigh of MOJO Bar. Her original Pioneering Creation saw her create the ‘Trial by Jury’, which saw Buffalo Trace mixed with a spiced porter syrup, Giffard’s dark cacao, almond milk and egg white, served with an atomiser which contained White Dog whiskey, almond and chocolate bitters. Her Mystery Migration cocktail though saw her create the ‘Bloody Long Derby’, offering up Buffalo Trace, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, mint, Antica Formula and sugar, topped with San Pellegrino Lemon and garnished with a mint sprig and fresh cherry tomatoes.
Anthony Hogan of Epernay, Manchester earned second place with his two cocktails. His Pioneering Cocktail, named the ‘Bottle Shock’ saw Buffalo Trace built with a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon juice and blueberry with bluebell soda, garnished with mint and fresh blueberries. His on the spot Mystery Migration recipe, named ‘Hunters of Kentucky’, saw him build a recipe with Buffalo Trace, peach and Red Bull syrup, fresh tomato juice, Antica Formula and Peychaud’s Aperitivo, garnished with a peach fan and lemon zest.
The winning serves though, both seen as equal and of a high-standard when we were discussing the drinks in general, came from Will Meredith of El Gato Negro. His original entry saw him show off the ‘New Orleans Fizz’, a blended serve containing Buffalo Trace, egg white, milk and cream, homemade Creole New Orleans ketchup (fig, date, prune and cayenne pepper flavoured) and a corn, malt and rye syrup. His Mystery Migration serve saw a thrown creation of Buffalo Trace, Peychaud’s Aperitivo, a mango and Dijon mustard syrup, topped with Stella Artois, capped with the fantastic name of ‘Celine Dijon’.
So congratulations to Will, who wins himself a trip to the home of Buffalo Trace in Kentucky! A great idea for a cocktail competition, really getting the competitors to immerse themselves in the brands history and heritage, bringing it to the forefront in their Pioneering America cocktail, and testing their skills with the Mystery Migration serve. All whilst having their knowledge tested, really bringing out the best bartender in the North West and earning their stripes as they head to America.
Manchester has a new venue to impress its ever expanding customer base, and a dose of Yorkshire is hitting the pitch.
Reolcating from Ripponden, West Yorkshire after 9 years to the heart of King Street, Manchester, the award-winning El Gato Negro shows off three floors of Spanish delights in the form of two bars and an open kitchen restaurant.
Upon arrival, expect to be greeted by friendly faces as they welcome you to the bar for a quick drink before the feast. With a drinks list devised by Garry Foy, he’s embraced the Spanish flavours with a delight of tonics, serves and creations, including the Pineapple & Sage Sour (£9) which sees Pisco, Dark Rum, pineapple, sage and sherry vinegar that comes together for a sharp hit on the sherry, before balancing out to the pineapple and Pisco flavours. Catching your eye as you take in the menu include the likes of their House Tonics (all £8.50), seeing Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum & Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup & Soda, orange bitters, lime, apple slices and cinnamon sugar being brought to the table, or perhaps Bloom Gin and Thomas Harvey Tonic, mint, lime, vanilla sugar and strawberry for a fresher start to your visit. It’s not all about tonics though as the Agua De Valencia (£8.50)
is Spain within a glass as it combines the elements of gin, the Spanish Solerno blood orange liqueur, orange juice, lemon and Cava.
Once finishing your welcome, expect to be whisked upstairs to the 1st floor, where the sight of a long, thin room invites you to sit on the quaint tables and booths, or if you’re lucky, the Chef’s Table in view of the busy open kitchen. With a food menu ladened with delights, the team recommend 5-6 dishes between two people to really experience the flavour of El Gato Negro. Indeed, the likes of Pork chicharrón with crackling, apple purée, olive oil and toasted sourdough (£6), or the Fillet of line-caught hake, parsley sauce and buttered new potatoes (£11), which incidentally offers some of the finest cooked fish in Manchester, are highlights to rival the stunning Confit of belly pork with rosemary-flavoured arrocina beans (£9.50). Keeping the sherry element going, try the Sourdough bread with olive oil and Pedro Ximénez balsamic (£2.50), or perhaps the classic meatballs with tomato fritarda sauce (£7.50) that’s fresh with a light, creamy sauce, perfect to accompany a bottle of Celler del Roure Setze Gallets 2012, Valencia (£29), picked by Master of Wine Miles Corish.
The surrounds of exposed brick, soft lighting, toned red booths and authentic Spanish artwork are a perfect transport to bringing Spain to Manchester, but The Black Cat could top off your El Gato Negro experience. Especially if the weather is kind. Just head to the 2nd floor to finish.
The Vísperas (£10) offers you a combination of Belvedere, Sipsmith gin, dry vermouth, olive brine, Lagavulin spray and Balsamic Caviar as you sit in the lounge area, adorned with table service from the knowledgeable barkeepers. Perhaps the Boulevardier (£10) which offers to you Eagle Rare Bourbon, Antica and Campari, could be a winner, especially when served within a glass pipe. And if it’s sunny in Manchester? Expect the magic of El Gato Negro as the roof of The Black Cat will retract and offer you the rays that adorns King Street every once-in-a-while.
Spain, as expected, is well served across all three floors, with Moritz, Estrella Damm and El Gaitero cider available to enjoy, plus the best Sherry menu Manchester has to offer, mixing the well-known Emilio Lustau range with examples of Rodriguez La-Cave Manzanilla ‘Barbiana’ and Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Anada 2013, Montilla Moriles.
I suppose what I’m trying to get across is, if you love Spain, appreciate its culture, its food and its drinks, El Gato Negro is the place to top the list. The hype is heard and rewarded, the service is as expected for an award-winning venue, the drinks fit the style of both the decor and reasoning behind El Gato Negro, essentially offering you a Manchester gem, and the food is beyond exceptional.