The Liquorists Tequila Trail Review

Last week I took part in the latest installment of the hugely popular spirit trails hosted by the ever knowledgeable The Liquorists, with this night focusing on that sometimes forgotten category – tequila. A ‘veteran’ so to speak of these trails (I’m now on eight and counting – living up to my Drinks Enthusiast name!) With five bars to view and five tequila brands to explore, you could sense both an air of excitement and worry as the gathering learnt about the history of tequila from Tom Sneesby, whilst having the nagging thought of ‘will he be bringing out the salt and lemon’??

Starting off at The Liqourists HQ, #22Redbank , we were treated to one of the more well-known brands of the tequila world – Jose Cuervo. However instead of the standard gold and silver liquids you find in most pubs and clubs, we were to be on the good stuff, the Tradicional. Coming with a slight harshness on the nose, it softened nicely until it hit your palate. A short, sharp but fresh blast set you up nicely for the complimenting cocktail, the traditional and classic Margarita. Served up by Jody Monteith, the simple blend of triple sec, agave syrup and a double dose of Jose Cuervo Tradicional went down as quickly as the food – barbequed sweet corn, tacos and nacho pots with lashings of salsa, guacamole and cheese.

A short taxi ride to Apotheca, a bar that is no stranger to hosting a spirits trail, had Don Julio Reposado waiting for us. The first luxury tequila to hit the spirit market gave the gathering a sense of the difference that tequila can offer between Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo. As you can imagine, the ‘rested’ tequila (meaning it has been aged for a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels) had a little more sweetness to it, with a spice which went well with our Mango and Rosemary Margarita complete with a rosemary salt rim.

Tabatio Anejo Blanco at Kosmonaut

El Jimador Blanco was to be the next offering in one of Manchester’s favourite bars – Socio Rehab. Comparing the El Jimador to our starter brand of Jose Cuervo, the El Jimador created a more peppery nose but a mouth-watering palate which balanced well against the Paloma cocktail created by Manchester’s finest and involving pink and white grapefruit. Hula shook the night up though with their blanco brand Casa Herradura Plata. Complete with a Tommys Margarita that uses agave nectar for a twist on the classic, the soft nose counteracted the spice start on the palate, but re-wrote the rules on longevity.

Last but not by any means least, the new addition to the Manchester bar scene was to be showcasing Tabatio Anejo as Kosmonaut came complete with a long cocktail of tequila sweetened with the ever favourite crème de cassis.

As mentioned before, I’m a veteran of these trails, but can easily say i still get rather giddy when these approach, especially when it involves brands that even I have never got round to trying. It’s also introduced me to Kosmonaut and taken me to old haunts which make you truly appreciate that these bars really know what they’re doing on a wider scale when on the topic of spirits. As for The Liquorists though – well, 5 cocktails, 5 venues, 5 spirits with food thrown in? You’ll be foolish not too. GET ON THEM

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© 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.

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© 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).

Manhattan

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.

Culross

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.

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© 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 Vodka Trail Review

Last night was another installment into The Liquorists busy calendar, the vodka trail. Following the same concept of their Nominees & Spirited Ventures trails last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different vodka’s, 5 different vodka cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Finlandia Caiproska at Blackdog Ballroom

Starting the night in the Blackdog Ballroom in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, we gathered in the bar’s Ballroom, a quietly tucked away private member’s bar which is perfect for events like this. Mr Tom Sneesby would be our host for the evening as he explained a brief history on vodka, what The Liquorists are all about and why we had a shot of Finlandia in front of us. Finlandia is a perfect example of how a spirit can get better when mixed properly. Although nice on its own, the Finlandia Caiproska that came after brought this Finnish vodka more alive. A small bite to eat followed in the form of breaded chicken strips and chips and then we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, 24 Bar & Grill.
Cariel Vodka was the choice of vodka at this newly re-branded bar (formerly Obsidian), and one of my personal favourites in the cocktail world, the Pornstar Martini, was made to perfection using Cariel’s vanilla flavour. Nestled at the end of the bar in their boothed seating, we enjoyed small pineapple and coriander salsa pastries to accompany the cocktail, as well as a shot of Cariel vodka to finish the visit off.

Pornstar Matini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar and Grill

Epernay was the next port of call, with the stunning champagne venue offering us Belevedere vodka to sip while French 76 cocktails were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Tom gave us a little history lesson on Belvedere, and mentioned that the building on the front of every bottle is the Polish presidential palace Belweder, with the vodka being named after it. From Poland to Sweden, Absolut vodka was next to showcase themselves at Hula, with a tiki cocktail being elaborately concocted while we munched on what I can only describe as a volcano of sweets – literally. Sherbert straws were on hand in our tiki drinks, while we drank amid a beach bar with hammocks and fire (no joke with the fire part!).
Our last bar for the night was in Manchester’s mecca when it comes to cocktails in the Northern Quarter – Socio Rehab. The French vodka Grey Goose was sipped, while Grey Goose le Fizz cocktails were brought over to us amid vegetable and meat toasties to warm the cockles of the rainy weather outside.

Grey Goose le Fizz at Socio Rehab

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Tom by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as the trail was a great idea for an early Christmas present, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with Hula and Epernay his highlights. As for me, all 5 bars are favourites of mine for various reasons, but the Pornstar Martini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar & Grill would be the recommendation of the night, but this is coming from a guy who loves vanilla!

They’ll be more trails coming up in the near future, so keep an eye on The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.