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…

Vogue’s Fashion Night Out at Frog Flowers Review

Susie - Vogue

Fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue came to Manchester last week with their Fashion Night Out event being held for one night only, collaborating with the likes of Manchester heavyweights Selfridges and Harvey Nichols as well as stores such as DKNY and Top Shop. With various drink brands coming on board to showcase their names with fashion designers, I took notice of something a little more intimate.

Frog Flowers is located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, away from the usual trendy places like Deansgate and King Street. Offering Manchester a unique experience in the art of flowers, the florist used its innovative and contemporary ideas that utilised a wide range of flowers & foliage. Working alongside them were Jean Jackson Bridal Wear, a South Manchester staple since the 1980’s. In return, a stunning boutique setting over three floors. Its ground floor offered me the most delight though as Manchester bartender and fashion icon in her own right, Susie Wong, offered her services to create for Frog Flowers three Vogue themed cocktails – Penelope Tree, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. The 60’s icons were immortalised in Susie’s creations, with each recipe written on a Vogue magazine cover instead of a menu adding the glamour touch.

Susie Wong
Susie with her Penelope Tree creation

Penelope Tree came in the form of a relatively new gin, City of London, built with The Bitter Truth Violette liqueur, tonic bitters and topped with grape soda. A recipe that Susie took with her to London after impressing the judges at the recent Bitter Truth cocktail competition held in Manchester, she took great pride in showering her creation with glitter and flowers to really set the scene for the evening. Another of her creations, Jean Shrimpton, again had a gin base of City of London, but this time shaken with Cointreau, Blossom Syrups Strawberry and cranberry juice. Helped by fellow bartender Edoardo Arcesi of Epernay, the use of strawberries and orange gave a fantastic aromatic floral nose, and came complete with a peacock resting on top. Her last creation was a simple affair, putting together Cointreau and The Bitter Truth orange flower water and topping it with Fentimans Rose Lemonade, complete with a lollipop!

With a display of spirit bottles being utilised to not only show-off Susie’s creations, but also adapted to be a part of the venues display-works (see the photos from the link below), Frog Flowers showcased the very best of the boutique styles that Manchester has to offer and display them in a way that only they seem to create. Having Susie come on board make perfect sense, with myself enjoying many a cocktail from the lady in the past, her style and approach to her creations doesn’t surprise me in her being a part of one of the biggest fashion nights out in the UK.

See, it’s not just the big boys who come out to play on these nights. And I mean that in both ways. Well done to Susie, David of Frog and the team at Jean Jackson.

Check out the rest of my photos via my Facebook page. Also see snaps from the official photographer Danielle Boxall.

© 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.

Appleton Estate

Appleton Joy

Appleton Estate is one of the world’s most well-known rum brands, hailing from Jamaica and offering up expressions used by all, from cocktails to served over ice. I finally get myself out to Jamaica soon to check out their home, but it’s got me taking a sneak peak before i jet over!

The first known documentation of rum production at the Appleton Estate dates back to 1749, however the origins of the Estate date back as far as 1655 when the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish. Frances Dickinson took part in that British conquest and it‘s believed that the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley, St. Elizabeth was part of the land grant that Dickinson received as a reward for his services. His grandsons were the earliest known owners of the Appleton Estate. In 1845 the Appleton Estate changed hands from the Dickinson family when it was acquired by William Hill and later changed hands again when it was purchased by one of Jamaica`s most successful merchants, A. McDowell Nathan. He unfortunately died in an earthquake in 1907 and his vast estate, including Appleton, was eventually acquired by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. who still own it to this day.

Appleton Estate also comes with a rather unique approach to their production.

The Estate grow their own sugar cane and ferment using soft water from a spring that originates through the limestone hills within the estate. A natural culture of yeast in the fermenting process is also used that has been handed down through generations. Small batch copper pot distillation is the preferred method, blending the rum between both copper pot and column stills. Maturation takes place within 40-gallon Number One Select American Oak barrels and when selected by the Master Blender, Joy Spence, incidentally the first woman to be appointed Master Blender in the world, they are then blended to create the Appleton Estate range. After blending, the rums are set to rest, which allows the marrying of the various components and brings the blend together.

So how does the range fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Appleton Estate V/X – 40%

*NOW DISCONTINUED* A blend of rum of at least 5yrs. Light on the nose with an oak aroma coming through near the end. A slight pepper is also present. Dry spice is immediately apparent on the palate, with a vanilla flavour mixed with the oak creating a long, dry, lingering finish.

Appleton Estate Special Gold – 40%

A blend of rums distilled in pot and column stills. These are matured separately before being hand-blended, then aged in refill Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey barrels.
Plenty of caramel on the nose, although becoming lighter with hints of sweetness following. Very light on the palate, rather thin, with a slight sweetness, blended with butter flavours.

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend – 43%

Launched in 2000 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Appleton Estate and uses minimum 8yr old Appletons. Lots of orange on the nose, with hints of hazelnut and soft fudge. Smooth on the palate, developing warmth. Honey, toasted fudge and hits of citrus on the lingering finish.

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12yr – 43%

A blend of rums between 12 and 18yrs. High notes of vanilla and banana on the nose, which follows onto the palate with a punch, although it mellows with a creamy texture. Creates a long, rich ending.

Appleton Estate 21yr – 43%

Following maturation, this was blended and married in casks for two years and uses minimum of 21yr aged rums. Bouquet of floral aromas and nuts. Cocoa and vanilla swirling around slowly. Plenty of nuts, thick, stewed fruits and hints of rich molasses. Long, fresh with hints of dryness.

Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend 25yr – 45%

This special blend commemorates Joy Spence’s 20th anniversary as master blender. A combination of rums aged for between 25 and 35 years.
Fresh demerara sugar upon the nose, with hints of fresh ripe banana, clove and oak coming through. Ripe notes of red apple, dried cinnamon sticks and coffee, moving to a bold kick of cocoa and toffee. A long, fresh finish, becoming quite moorish.


A cracking range of rum from Jamaica, with versatility to offer cocktails such as;

Applton - Joys Cocktail

Joy’s Cocktail; crafted by the Master herself.

Glass –


Ingredients – 

25 ml Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
75 ml Ginger ale
Slice of orange
5 drops Angostura bitters
Orange peel (garnish)

Method – 

Squeeze the orange slice into a rocks glass and then drop it in the glass and muddle it. Add ice and build in remaining ingredients and stir.

Worth seeking out a couple of the Appleton Estate range for your cocktail evenings, and at least one to sip when the occasion calls for! I’ll be sure to update as and when i experience straight from Jamaica itself!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2018. 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.

Kahlúa Coffee House Tasting


Kahlúa have taken over Manchester. Well, more Market Restaurant on High Street in the Northern Quarter but taken over non the less. Transformed into the Kahlúa colours of red, yellow and black, with bottles lining shelves and menus covering everything from Mexican char grilled chicken to Espresso Martini’s and White Russians, Kahlúa has taken the ever intrigued Manchester scene and created something just that little bit different.


Take for example their free master classes. Ran upstairs in their Salon de Kahlúa, collaborative partners The Liquorists and Coffee Circle explore the heritage of Kahlúa, whilst enjoying a cocktail or two. But to really stand out, you spend some of the session blind-folded. Fantastic idea! After an introductory  drink of replacing rum with Kahlúa in a coffee based Mojito, your host, in our case Jamie Jones, asks you to become departed from your senses and spend the next few minutes in darkness, hands on the table. In the middle is placed a dish containing 4 spoons, one with a rum based sugar cane cube, one with vanilla, one with a jelly coffee cube and the last with vanilla coffee cream. Of course, you have to guess what you have just tried, and many expressing how simple the ingredients are to creating the finished product of Kahlúa.

After a history lesson in coffee by Coffee Circle, you are then treated to a shot glass of probably one of the world’s most famous coffee cocktails – The Espresso Martini. A mix of Kahlúa, vodka and espresso, shaken to create a creamy layer on top and decorated with a couple of coffee beans. Simple, perfect.

The last treat of the evening though highlighted the Salon de Kahlúa cocktail menu created by The Liquorists – an Americano. Not your usual coffee drink, but more a combination of Kahlúa and vermouth spritzed with a coffee infused Pernod absinthe spray. Served in a cup complete with saucer of course. This gave an insight into the drinks list as there are 8 drinks to choose from, ranging from The Flat White (Kahlúa, Chivas Regal and Pedro Ximenez Sherry), The Mocha (Kahlúa, Olmeca Altos Reposado, Cherry Cola and Chocolate Ice Cream) and The Affogato (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlúa and Espresso) which is a de-constructed White Russian that you drink with a spoon.

The session lasts for 45 minutes and as it’s free, spaces are snapped up quickly, especially with what is on offer for you. Masterclasses are held at 6:30pm on Thursdays, and at 6:30pm and 8:30pm every Friday and Saturday. Book yourself on, grab a bite to eat, watch a film in the speakeasy and enjoy many a Kahlúa beverage because April 27th – IT’S GONE.

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

© 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.

Tea Rooms of Manchester Part 1


One category that Manchester has a lot of, and indeed excel at, are tea rooms. Most you will find around the Northern Quarter, nestled away down side streets, in converted buildings or built from scratch. Some you will see in more established venues in areas you don’t expect to find a range of herbal teas or home-baked scones, others incorporated into new ventures as a way to capitalize on the ever popular ‘Afternoon Tea’ scenario.

I myself visit a lot of these tea rooms for meetings and catch-ups and after a bit of tweeting between myself and other like-minded drink lovers, it came to my mind that being a ‘Drinks Enthusiast’ doesn’t necessarily have to be towards alcohol. I’ve dabbled previously into mixers which can enhance or create a different tone towards your favourite tipple, but never a venue that prides itself on offering more towards the hot drink sector and home-baked goodies.

With this in mind, I’ve tasked myself into experiencing the tea rooms of Manchester, looking at what makes it stand-out from the rest, the quality of the produce and the overall glamour of this theme.

First to Home Sweet Home – an independent place from the guys who brought you Socio Rehab, Almost Famous and Luck Lust Liquor & Burn. They call themselves a gourmet bakehouse and coffee bar, and specialize in home comfort food i.e. pull up a chair as there’s something for everyone. Located on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, the long open room as you step in houses simple square tables and chairs on either side of a wooden clad bar upon which cake stands galore adorn. Its simple decor of wallpaper, books and pictures in frames creates the mood of its name-sake.

Burger at Home Sweet Home
Burger at Home Sweet Home

When I went myself I tried something a little different from my usual Americano (£2) and Sausage Roll (£3.50). I opted for the simply named Burger (£7.95). A hand pressed double burger topped with cheese on a soft brioche roll. Lashes of pickle, relish and tomato supplied with a side of fries and coleslaw finished it off with a bottle of Goose Island 312 (£3.50) wheat beer to wash it all down with. Yes perhaps not what you expect to hear from a gourmet bakehouse, but when the sausage rolls are consistently good, and you see mains like Mac and Cheese, Jerked Ham Sarnie and Chilli Dog in a Blanket next to sandwiches of New New Yorker, Southwestern Club and Cajun Chicken and Chorizo, you just have to give in. One ‘traditional’ item of a tea room did catch my eye though – Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares. I had two for the good reason of they were hand baked, drizzled with chocolate, and overall savory goodness.

Next is Annies Restaurant. This is a classic example of a venue that has taken advantage of its surroundings and offers you everything an afternoon tea should be about. Set in an environment that houses comfy high backed chairs, coffee tables, soft music and elegant paintings and mirrors, it’s as if your in your grandmothers living room – and you just can’t bring yourself to leave. Especially when the Afternoon Tea (£14.95) is served on a china stand, complete with matching cups and saucers for your choice of tea (loose leaf, fruit and flavoured all available) or coffee. Delicate finger sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber and ham were available below warm, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and a generous helping of strawberry jam. The bottom tier gave way to the pastries and cakes including one of the best flapjacks I’ve ever had the enjoyment of. Ecclairs and fruit tarts rounded off the collection, as did the added extra of a glass of Champagne (£19.95 overall).

Annies is one of the newer establishments in Manchester, located on Old Bank Street just off St. Anne’s Square. I’ve been once before on there preview night and jumped at the chance to come down again. Chris Farr and Jennie McAlpine have helped themselves to rave reviews, and for an afternoon tea that is really good value for money, I can join in the applause.

Another favourite of Manchester is Teacup on Thomas St, located surprisingly enough on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. A sizeable venue which stretches back to include a mini mezzanine level which houses the kitchen. As you walk in though is where some would say the magic happens. Greeted and seated by staff and handed a menu of both baked and cooked delights, you’re rather spoilt for choice. I opted for a Pot of Tea (£2.50) and a piece of Flourless Chocolate Cake (£4.00), although I was torn towards the milkshakes and Fentimans despite the bitter coldness outside. Some interesting combinations on the cake menu too including White Chocolate and Poppy Seed, Carrot & Coconut and the locally named Manchester Tart.

Cappuccino at North Tea Power
Cappuccino at North Tea Power

Eating within a decor of metallic coloured walls and striking dark red beams that carry on to the iron cast table legs, it’s more simple than homely. Inviting non-the-less, the wooden tables compliment the colour scheme rather well, and a packed crowd at 4 in the afternoon does this justice too. Teacup is simple, yet daringly extensive with what it offers. The staff I can not fault either. Courteous, friendly and most of all I am yet to wait for that piece of cake or pot of tea as there are plenty of them around to attend to your needs.

A firm Manchester charm is Sugar Junction. Nestled down Tib Street in the Northern Quarter, I opted to try this one out as soon as it opened. For one reason and one reason only, every time I have been past, there’s not a seat in site! As you can imagine, this would intrigue anybody, and I now know why. Fantastic yet simple décor of mismatch wooden tables and chairs, coat stands, miniature tea sets within the exposed brick walls and three stunning chandeliers hanging along the front of the wooden bar. Scanning a sizeable menu, I opted for a pot of loose leaf English Breakfast and a Triple Decker BLT (£5.50) – locally sourced bacon, baby gem lettuce, tomato and lashings of mayonnaise, served on white toasted bread. Fantastic portion, warm and came with home-made coleslaw on the side.

Would be rude not to look at the cake menu when you’re at a tea room, so I decided to go for the first item on the ever-changing board, Chocolate Guinness Cake (£3.50). Wasn’t really a cake, more a slab of rich, incredibly moorish and dare I say, heavenly cake. Perfectly balanced with hint of Guinness coming through on each bite. To wash down, a ‘standard’ size Latte, complete with a China coffee cup. Great to finish off the experience, listening to jazz and 50’s music whilst watching the world go by. You really do get the sense that you’re in a different era, especially with the staff dressed in more vintage clothes than jeans and t-shirt, and politeness that you rarely find.

Triple Decker BLT at Sugar Junction
Triple Decker BLT at Sugar Junction

The latest of my tea room adventure involved a visit to North Tea Power. Situated along the mezzanine level on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter, North Tea Power invite their patrons in via the display of sandwiches and cakes on the counter, located ideally in the window as you pass – simple marketing but affective! I myself got caught in this crafty ploy, and chose myself a Cappuccino and Ham and Cheese French Toast drizzled with maple syrup. Perfection and rather unique too. Nothing too much trouble either as you sit on wooden tables with chairs and stools looking like they’ve come straight from a school library. Nothing wrong with this of course as it balances out the books, art and flowers that adorn each table and wall.

As you can expect from the name, a wall of various teas are located within glass jars, with a collection of strainers and equipment that makes North Tea Power look like it really does care about your experience for something that is rather a simple day-to-day passing. With great background music of Indie and Folk, you get that sense of quietness and charm, whilst sipping on your drink (cappuccino art always looks impressive too) or munching your French toast with glee as it warms you up.

There are other tea rooms in Manchester and I’m sure their will be cries that I’ve missed off names such as Richmond Tea Rooms, 47 King St West and Hey Little Cupcake, but never fear, with so many to choose from, this article would become a little too long to keep you in the tea room loop, so instead I’ve opted to write in stages, so you’ve read Tearooms of Manchester Part 1, and coming very soon will be Part 2!

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

© 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 Blue Pig Review

One sight that you will never see leaving is the opening of a new venue. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, something is always popping up, filling gaps you never thought were their or shouting to the masses with outlandish fronts. In Manchester, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with the new offerings, but I did manage to get myself down to a place that has been making a name for itself, despite only being open for around a month now. The first time I ventured into The Blue Pig was as part of The Liquorists rum trail numero 3, and I promised myself that I would return for a few reasons. One – the decor. Two – the food. Three – the drinks, Four – the service and Five – the atmosphere. These sound like pretty bog-standard reasons that should apply to all eateries, but you can sometimes struggle to name a good list that acquire themselves to the basics. I feel however that The Blue Pig can stake its name right up their.

Located on the corner of Back Turner Street and High Street in Manchester’s snazzy Northern Quarter, its distinctive yet subtle blue floor to ceiling frames can entice you well to peer in, with the hanging blue pig as their sign a mere photo taking opportunity in its own right. Outdoor seating a plenty, it looks like a quaint coffee shop setting, until you step inside that is. With an entrance way that is entwined with vines, ivy and plants, you enter a room that could easily have you thinking you stepped back into a different era, with lots of dark colours that become complimented with the huge amounts of light striking through from the large windows. Two items that immediately catch your eye are the deli counter and the bar. Both oozing Parisian styles, stocked to the brim with delights in both food and drink. Specials boards hang from the ceiling, lit up by large hanging lanterns or old-fashioned lamps attached to scissor beams. One special that caught my eye was their 333 offer. ‘The Blue Pig presents our ever so seasonal, weekly changing menu featuring some of the finest produce around today sourced from both local and continental suppliers. Featuring 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 puddings, choose one dish from each for just £20.00 or individually priced dishes to suit.’ What better way to dive into the unknown!


Well to be fair they do have another way, they offer sharing boards – 5 styles including fish, meat, cheese and veg that have a host of delights mixed on them from salmon and monkfish terrine to chicken liver and ale pate. For this visit though I opted for a starter of Potted Duck that came with cumquat butter, toasted beer bread and onion pickle. Created from fresh (instantly recognisable from the first bite), and presented well with the duck housed in a small jar, propped with two warm pieces of toast and pickle with salad to dress. To wash it all down with, I gave the bartender a ‘freedom of choice’ i.e. I’d like a G&T but I want you to choose the gin. And choose well she did, offering me Berkely Square and Fever-Tree tonic. No sooner was I sipping away, the next course was being placed in front of me – Slow Roasted Fillet of Beef. A healthy portion of braised ox tongue, watercress and chervil puree, crushed new potatoes and veal and red wine juc. Heaven! The juices soaked straight into the piping hot ox tongue creating a mouth-watering bite every time. It was rather disappointing to demolish it though as anything that is presented in a layered effect, the ox tongue balanced upon the crushed potatoes, i think is a masterpiece in its own right. Speaking of masterpieces, i had a tipple that oddly complimented the course – a Negroni. Using Beefeater gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth, it seemed to offer a new take on the flavours that the ox tongue gave, becoming a little softer after the infusion of red wine juice.

The third and final course offered me a Chocolate and Raspberry Terrine with raspberry coulis. Not too rich and perfect for someone who is a chocoholic, but may not like it too bold. Chocolate and raspberry have always complimented each other, and this delivers straight away, with again presentation being spot on too. Now I have to admit, this was my second desert of the day here. When I arrived I ordered myself something unusual, Gin and Tonic Strawberries, gin soaked strawberries set in tonic and cucumber jelly. The power of twitter meant I had seen this posted online before, and despite not being a fan of jelly, my gin demon (or hero) told me to give it a go. Housed in a rocks glass, its freshly cut strawberries look fantastic with a dusting of icing sugar on top and the thin slices of juicy cucumber work well. A theme that has set itself during my visit started with this dish too – presentation. To cap my visit off, I yet again asked for one of the staff to choose any style cocktail for me, and i was presented with one of my personal favourites in an Old Fashioned. Using Woodford Reserve, Angostura Bitters and maple syrup, it was a fantastic way to end an afternoon.

Gin and Tonic Strawberries

I’m not one to rave about a venue too much, but the concept that The Blue Pig have come across is spot on, and I couldn’t recommend any higher. The service by all staff was friendly, the atmosphere was relaxed with chilled out music been played at a good level, the food was great and the drinks on par with any high-end bar. The decor has that ‘homely’ feel to it, but also has an up-market look which you can easily spend a good few hours sitting in their window booths or single table seats.

It’s a rarity that I plan on coming back to a restaurant so quickly, but in a few days you’ll see me trying out the rest of their ever-changing menu. Come down and join me!

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 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.


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.

Socio Rehab Review

Socio Rehab has been called many things since its time on the streets of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and since its January refurb, those already positive words on their cocktail making skills can be used while sitting in modern comfort. I swung by a few days back for the first time this year for two reasons – number one was to have some damn good cocktails, and number two was to show the rest of the world what their missing!

Although a flying visit, Max, one of the Socio Rehabs friendly bartenders, created for me a Blantons bourbon heavy Manhattan whilst flicking through what can only be described as a comic book of cocktails. Unique, quirky and it works. Recipes that jumped out at me included Lemon Rusky (vodka and limoncello shaken with fresh lemon juice and sugar, topped with grapefruit juice), Fish House Punch (Remy Martin cognac, Havana Club light rum and peach brandy liqueur shaken with strong cold tea, freshly wrung lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda) and a Orange Blossom Martini (Hangar I Orange Blossom vodka, (Benedictine, limoncello, dry vermouth rinse) stirred with mint leaves and a single smashed berry, finished with a Clementine zest).


With low wooden stools at the bar, there’s leather sofas with faded Union Jacks printed on overlooking the high street and nestled between big indoor potted plants. A simple singular tall table is at the other end of the bar next to the almost floor to ceiling windows, followed by a row of stools at a wall mounted side. Well known lounge music set the mood to chilled setting, with candles flickering against maroon coloured walls. Surprisingly, the colour scheme goes well with the tiled floors and red brick bar, as does the back bar itself.

With a fantastic range of spirits that meanders its way across the whole of the wall, there’s something literally guaranteed for all palates. Noticing brands including Woodford Reserve, Mamont vodka, Belvedere, El Dorado rum, Patron tequila, Bulldog gin, Ron Diplomatico and the Sipsmith range, this bar goes one further with the word variety. Theres even a bottle of Smith and Cross, a traditional blended Jamaican rum aged up to 3 years.

Smith & Cross – 57%

A mixture of tropical fruits and wild spices on the nose, with a slight ‘high alcohol’ aroma following. A kick of banana, vanilla and caramel on the palate, but is rather short on longevity.


Cocktails isn’t all that Socio Rehab serve though, with wines and beers including Heinekan, Moretti and Asahi available amongst an array of soft drinks. Next on the cocktail list for me however was a Culross which involves Bacardi Superior, Lillet, apricot liqueur and lemon juice. Served in a rather stunning gimlet, much to the envy of two fellow patrons, it was a fantastic end to a unfortunant brief visit.

Socio Rehab also host many events including cocktail nights, masterclasses and even the chance to jump behind the bar and have a go yourself! Friendly bartenders who know what they’re talking about – but use simple terms that can mean non-bartender folk can order without feeling out-of-place, an inviting setting, and some great drinks to try, Socio Rehab still hits the nail on the head when it comes to a city centre cocktail bar.

It’s a must try venue.

Check out more photos of Socio Rehab on 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.

Bacardi Oakheart Reviews

Unfortunately due to work commitments, I was unable to participate in the launch of Bacardi’s new spiced rum – Bacardi Oakheart. The event was hosted by the Manchester based ‘The Liquorists’ in the setting of the BlackDog Ballroom in Northern Quarter. My two friends, who I was to be attending with, went along and below are their reviews on how the night went on –

Free Spiced Rum Masterclass and Introduction to all things Rummy!!!

This event was based at the BlackDog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. The Drinks Enthusiast representatives were warmly greeted at the entrance of the bar by a member of The Liquorists who directed us to a private room where the rum tasting was to take place.
First impressions were very impressive as The Liquorists had obviously put a lot of effort into the atmosphere by providing candle-lit lighting, mellow music and lots of Bacardi Oakheart rum advertisements around premises.
Straight away we were greeted by a cheerful bartender who instantly provided us with a Bacardi Oakheart rum, coke and lime which for want of a better word was awesome. The fact it was served in a Bacardi glass was a nice touch as well.
Because we hadn’t attended an event by The Liquorists team before we really didn’t know what to expect and was happy to find out that we would be trying a variety of spiced rums whilst being given a thorough overview of the rum-making process, its origins and how it has developed into the modern world.
The information was very interesting and was well presented by such an enthusiastic host and worked well in tandem with the dispensing of beverages.
After a short break, our host then involved the participants with a fun exercise where we blindly tasted four rums and evaluated their attributes based on distinct categories including: its “woodyness”; “citrisity”, “fruityness”, “spice” and “nuttiness”.
This process was conducted by a group vote on a scale of 1-5 (but in some cases up to eight)8) 1 being low and 5 high. After all votes were in for each category the host was able to complete a radar chart/spider diagram for each individual rum to see how well-balanced the flavours are.
This was an extremely fun exercise and in some cases acted as a deterrent for sub-standard spiced rums and in addition save on unwanted purchases.
It was highly evident that the Bacardi Oakheart rum was the most successful as it had an overall balanced flavour range and was favourable to all participants (which made the night’s objectives successful). Lambs Navy Spiced Rum and Sailor Jerry’s were also appreciated, but Morgan’s Spiced was reviewed very badly with its dominant vanilla flavour, and as our host described it: “like drinking death”.
The session ended after three hours with a final round of Bacardi Oakheart rum, coke and limes which we drank whilst listening to the host promoting the next drinking courses available (
Overall the event was a very exciting and enjoyable experience and has encouraged us to attend scheduled future events, especially with people who appreciate rum to the level that we do!

Review by Gary Clough

Rum Tasting Review


I should probably start by saying I have never been to any kind of alcohol tasting event before and so had no idea what to expect – but I jumped at the chance for the rum tasting session.  I know BlackDog Ballroom quite well as a drinking venue, the bar was made even friendlier by the welcome from Tom and Jody who both work for the company The Liquorists.
 The event kicked off with a bit of a chat and a couple of Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libres – large shot of rum, topped up with coke and two good twists of lime – the result was refreshing and very tasty, and already knew that the Bacardi was going to live up to expectations. Not too sickly with vanilla like some spiced rums, but carried a lot of flavour.
As the evening went on, Tom explained the history of rum and Bacardi – a very interesting story.  With the explanations of course came the rum tasting – Bacardi Superior White, Bacardi Gold and Bacardi 8 Year Old – each had a story behind it, with the differences between them explained.
After the break, we were given a blind taste test, with flavour wheels to fill in. It was amazing to see the difference between the 4 rums – 2 of which I drink on a regular basis – comparing them made me realise they are not as good as I thought.  The all-round favourite was of course Bacardi – and when compared with Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Lamb’s Spiced Rum, it was easy to see why. The flavour is very rounded, making it an easy sipping rum as well as a good cocktail rum, there isn’t the synthetic sickly taste you get with SJ’s and Morgan’s.
All in all, it was a great night, and something I would definitely try out again.  I would recommend going to one of these evenings, as they are really interesting and is a chance to try a range of different drinks on an evening out.
Lastly – I would say that Bacardi Oakheart will be my spiced rum of choice when on a night out!!
Review by Victoria Armstrong
Click here to check out The Liquorists website –
Check out the venue BlackDog Ballroom –