New Cocktail Creations Cause A Winter Meltdown At Elixir, Tonics & Treats

Elixir Tonics & Treats

I often get asked where the best bars in Manchester are for a drink. Whether it’s a cocktail, a dram or two, glass of wine or just a good old-fashioned soft drink, there are always venues that spring to mind that can cater for all. Elixir, Tonics & Treats is such a venue that sees itself in my mind as one of the best. If you read my feature on the bar when it first opened, you’ll know that I was impressed with the effort that the team have put behind it, essentially bringing some of the London bar scene to the North, and not losing sight of alienating the Mancunian customers, or indeed the liquids being used.It’s with this in my mind that I went along last week to experience some of their winter inclusions to their cocktail menu.

A re-jig of the current menu sees the main eye-focus train to the Elements Experimental, a look at the earth, wind, fire, sky and water, plus a combination of all five. Speaking to Jamie Strickland, my bartender for the hour, he says that with the heavy nod that Elixir, Tonics & Treats has towards the healing elements of crystals and the powers that the various forms can give off, the look into the elements is the natural course to take, which over the last couple of months has come down to the likes of By The Fire, using a combination of rum and dark chocolate, and Hope Floats with its twist on the White Lady classic.

Mermaid's Teardrop
Mermaid’s Teardrop

But it’s the Down To Earth (£9) which Jamie creates first. A choice of Jim Beam White Label, Rittenhouse or Johnnie Walker Black Label are available for the base, (essentially peaty, dry or sweet) with Jamie opting for the use of Johnnie Walker this particular time. The whisky is blended with Antica sweet vermouth, Cynar, Angostura Bitters and dark agave, topped with Samuel Adams and accompanied by a ‘muddy puddle’, essentially squashed home-made chocolate, a sweet worm and edible stones. Served on a tray laden with grass, the crystal cut tumbler gives off the expected Samuel Adams nose, creating a fresh scent combined with liquorice coming from the liquorice stick used to act like a, well, stick (hopefully you’ve noticed the woodland scene developing). Coming through the two is the Johnnie Walker Black Label, followed by the bitterness from the Cynar artichoke. The Cynar follows onto the palate too, with the dark agave giving a punchy kick alongside the blended whisky. When sipped after a bite of the muddy puddle, the experience is smoothed off and a more velvet texture arises, essentially toning down some of the bitterness. Not a bad start, and one I can see working for beer drinkers to develop into whisky cocktail lovers.

A Mermaid’s Teardrop (£8.50) came next, combining the base of Stolichnaya Red with Kwai Feh, coconut and ocean syrup (essentially lemon-grass and seaweed infused into neutral syrup). Accompanied by a teardrop ice bomb and chocolate sea-glass shell, once again the presentation was extravagant yet subtle. Housed in a stylish coupette, plenty of fresh lavender and lychee from the Kwai Feh are noticeable, acting rather enticing to sip quicker than you expect. An incredibly well-balanced drink awaits, Plenty of citrus notes are dancing around, but the sweetness from the Kwai Feh tones it all down, with the length from the Stolichnaya becoming more noticeable.

Fantastic.

Utopian Cascade
Utopian Cascade

Into The Ether (£8), and one of two on the new portion of the menu that twists a classic cocktail. An Old Fashioned is a personal favourite of mine, especially using a spirit with a good, heavy base like rum or whisky. Although I’ve had many a tequila based Old Fashioned, especially in Elixir, Tonics & Treats itself, I saw it as a brave move to serve with a side-order of citric acid and an intensifying flavour vapour! Jamie opted for a spot of blue food colouring to really show off what I can only describe as a bubbling orb can do to your Sauza Blanco Old Fashioned. Truly the elements at work! As you can imagine, plenty of fresh citrus on the nose, with the tequila noticeable on the palate once you’ve calmed down the reaction. A cocktail aimed for the ladies of the group with the array of colours available, as well as the interaction you have when you have to finish off the cocktail yourself.

Lastly, Jamie created for me the Utopian Cascade (£8.50), seen as the mecca of all the elements combined. Jamie kept this one until last due to the heavy spirits used including Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, Calvados, Five Spice syrup, pressed apple and lemon juice. It also combines an Elixir signature so-to-speak with the drink served over Star Anise and clove cascaded dry ice, topped with a dried apple and cinnamon star. A great flavour concept, seen as pure and clean with plenty of fresh apple, cinnamon and underlining Calvados notes on the nose. Although a light start on the first sip, the buds develop with spiced apple and hints of lavender present. Despite the finish being short and dry, it’s mourish, meaning a night on the Utopian Cascade is not generally out of the question.

It seems that Elixir Tonics & Treats have kept up the form. Subtle extravagance through their showmanship and presentations keeps the newcomers flocking, and the twists on classics and new-age statements prove that they can offer something unique to the Manchester table. I still love the way that the venue is brave to use liquids such as Cynar and Calvados within their work. There’s simply not enough bartenders being creative with these lesser-known brands and categories, let alone see them featured on a menu in what still is one of Manchester best cocktail bars.

Get down, try them all, especially the Mermaid’s Teardop which came as a surprise hit for me. One of the best.

© 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.

Diageo Still Popping Up At The Edinburgh Fringe

Get yourself to Edinburgh and check out a whole host of pop-up bars from Diageo –

tanqerayTanqueray Secret Garden

56 North, Tanqueray Gin and Diageo World Class are delighted to present the “Secret Garden”. Located behind the home of Scottish Gin at 56 North this previously unused space is being transformed into a summer garden for the Fringe Festival 2014. Be sure to try the Tanqueray No.TEN Grapefruit & Chamomile Fizz.

don julioDon Julio at Festival Square

Make sure you visit the Don Julio hut in the heart of the festival, Festival Square and grab a Don Julio frozen margarita before you shoot off to see a show.

zacapaThe Zacapa Experience at Chaophraya

Situated at exactly 23 metres above street level is ‘The Zacapa Experience’ at Chaophraya with unparalleled views over Edinburgh’s famous George Street. The must have drink here is the Zacapa 23 vanilla and banana smoked pina colada, best enjoyed with sunshine.

johnnie walkerJohnnie Walker at Harvey Nichols

The Harvey Nichols rooftop terrace has had a makeover and transformed into a Johnnie Walker experience complete with a World Class cocktail menu. If you get time you can even warm up for the Ryder Cup by practicing your putting skills whilst sipping on a Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

The Briton’s Protection Review

The Briton's Protection

Classed as Manchester’s best bar for whisk(e)y, The Briton’s Protection has got it all. On the corner of Great Bridgewater Street, the outside decor gives it a traditional pub feeling, and with hanging baskets from every window, it oddly doesn’t look out-of-place nestled in Manchester. Once you step foot inside you enter the long bar area where your greeted with a smile by both barman and customers. On my most recent visit, I of course opted for a whisky, but they do have other varieties available including Guinness, Staropramen, Strongbow and Carling on tap, and a range of spirits including the new Kraken spiced rum and Monkey Shoulder. Wines are available as well as ales including Tetley, Beartown and Angel Tears.

The Whisk(e)y range

As mentioned, my most recent visit I opted for a whisky. You are handed the whisk(e)y menu (something that has never happened to me before!) and can browse through their quite stunning selection. You can scan there backbar that includes the Scotch Glenfiddich range and Johnnie Walker, the Irish Jameson’s as well as American Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Knob Creek but the menu indicates some little gems that you can miss. Their selction also includes a Czech and Welsh whisky which im going to have to go back and try. I went for a Dalmore 15yr (check out my tasting notes on the Dalmore 15yr here – https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/dalmore-whisky-masterclass-review/ )

Whilst sipping on The Dalmore, I couldn’t help but notice they have a certificate hanging predominantly on the bar with the words ‘Whisky Bars of the World 2011’. I couldn’t agree more! With nearly every whisk(e)y available, you will surely find something that will take your fancy, and if not, the barman seem more than capable in offering you their advice which although probably mandatory in the job description, always makes you feel a more welcomed.

If your ever in the Manchester area, this is one of the must-see places on your to-do list and when you can pick up a Glenfiddich 21yr for just £7.50, even Jamie Milne, the Glenfiddich UK Ambassador, is pleasantly surprised!