The Manchester scene has yet again been given something to look forward to. Favourites The Liquorists, aka Tom Sneesby and Jody Monteith, have taken advantage of an opportunity that came their way to showcase to you all a journey. Vodka giants Belvedere have joined forces with the duo and taken over a plot within the stunning Barton Arcade on Deansgate for the next two months. Here, they will bring you into the world of Albert Henry Belvedere,a fictional Foreign Correspondent working for the Manchester Guardian who is venturing on a trip from Manchester to Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong and back again to cover the arrival of the first British Planes to reach the Dominion in 1928.
With this, the aptly named Kowloon Correspondents Club will take you through the likes of New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Tahiti, Rangoon, Mombassa and Cape Town, as well as Henry’s favourite haunts in Kowloon Bay. The Liquorists have devised a menu that covers your journey with the likes of the classic Martini’s to creations such as Mr Stephenson’s Rocket which has Belvedere Citrus and Black Raspberry, elderflower, homemade rhubarb syrup, lemon and spritz. From a Manchester cocktail to a Rangoon delight where you can enjoy a Rifle of the Raj with Belvedere Lemon Tea, lemon verbena cordial, gunpowder tea syrup and Fever Tree ginger ale.
There will be 14 drinks to cover your trip with Henry, with a pit-stop along the way as The Liquorists will be hosting free masterclasses every Thursday, Friday (6 and 8pm) and Saturday at 2, 4 and 6pm). These will cover the history of Belvedere itself and of course how it is created to be one of the top premium vodkas in existence. You’ll also be enjoying two Belvedere cocktails and of course the spirit itself in all its glory. You may also be able to sample (well if you ask Mr Sneesby nicely) the very exclusive Belvedere Lemon Tea, an expression you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the UK.
If free masterclasses weren’t enough, the team are bringing back the Cocktail Hour where on their opening days they will be offering half price cocktails on all their available drinks between 5 and 7pm! That’s a whole load of brand new cocktails to try or a fraction of the price!
If you’re even luckier, you may be able to quiz the likes of Nate Booker, a gentleman who has only just returned back from spending the last part of his life in the sunny climates of Australia, representing Belvedere to the masses. He was present at the launch this last Thursday and was the perfect host to the masterclass.
Once again, The Liquorists have pulled out all the stops. I’ll see you all at the bar!
Check out the rest of the photos of the Kowloon Correspondents Club via my Facebook page.
Ever feel like having a night of luxury? A night of sophistication? Well last week Manchester showcased themselves with a brand that oozes these qualities and more with the ever elegant Belvedere and the ever knowledgeable and glamour of The Liquorists. The usual trait of five bars. five samples and five cocktails to indulge in, with a gathering sporting a mix of bloggers and consumers set the tone for a night that despite there only being the one brand on offer, an excitement rippled through as we met in The River Bar & Restaurant in The Lowry Hotel. I knew from past experience what Belvedere has to offer, but am yet to really see what it can do when mixed with cocktails and food, so when Tom Sneesby gave us a history of Belvedere, I eagerly caught the eye of the Belvedere Polish Zephyr being handed out with a base of Belvedere Pure, pink grapefruit, almond and Fever Tree tonic water that came complimented with passionfruit jelly cubes. Heaven.
To fit so much into a night, you have to experience and savour to the best of your abilities as you’re soon whisked off to the next venue which in our case was The Liquorists own #22redbank. Here, Jody Monteith was busy creating us a bartender favourite – Bloody Mary using the aptly named Belvedere Bloody Mary. An expression I rate well on its own, it was interesting to see it used in its primary use, and also in a traditional form – vodka, Tabasco, Worcester sauce, dash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Complete with celery stick, it was a smooth addition to its rather spicy self when sipped on its own. The added olives and chorizo slices completed the visit to the speakeasy style venue and we were soon whisked off to a relatively new addition to the Manchester bar scene in Kosmonaut. First ventured into on the tequila trail, I was glad to be back and also trying something new to me. Belvedere Citrus made an appearance here with a fresh nose and long, smooth offering on the palate. Perfect then for Kosmonaut’s own Amir Javaid and his trail created cocktail named the Belvedere Triangle. A mix of citrus, Briotett rhubarb liqueur, egg white, clementine juice and grenadine, it served very well with a rather unusual accompaniment, a Mr Kipling lemon slice. Genius!
Driven to the other side of the city, Epernay was back into the trail loop with Belvedere Grapefruit ready and waiting with a black forest gateaux with Belvedere Grapefruit infused cream. A nod to Ernist Hemingway while we were there too as we savoured the Ayala Champagne heavy Hemingway Royale which also housed grapefruit juice and maraschino. Although not the biggest fan of grapefruit, the use in Belvedere doesn’t overpower so it resulted in a rather enjoyable tipple, especially with the nice touch of a vodka based gateaux. Last on our whirlwind tour was to be Manchester’s newest pop-up in The Ski Club.
Housed in Spinningfields, its decor, as you would imagine, resembled a ski club, complete with melted cheese fondue, meat and cheese platters and Belvedere Intense. This version in their portfolio was saved till last with its instant mouth-watering effect that seemed to last for ever. Food a plenty and a gathering that all easily got on well together made for a great ending to a night that promoted luxury, glamour and excitement.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
During the Manchester Food and Drink Festival last month, a Manchester based company named The Liquorists held 3 different trails around the many bars and restaurants Manchester has to offer. The Liquorists themselves are Jody Monteith and Tom Sneesby, 2 guys who know everything and anything about drinking in Manchester, so ideally the perfect hosts for 2 nights of exploring!
Due to commitments for the London Cocktail Week, I missed out on their ‘Trail of the Flowing Bowl’ which involved some of the city’s best rum bars. Never one to become distraught over missed opportunities, I signed myself up for their ‘Nominees Trail’ on the Saturday. This trail involved visiting a selection of bars and restaurants who were nominated in the festivals awards including best bar, best restaurant and best newcomer.
After gathering in the festival’s hub in Albert Square, Tom lead us to our first stop of the night, Vertigo. The site of the ex. Japanese restaurant Ithaca, it nows houses a modern European menu created by Head Chef Ian Armstrong. Making our way up the stairs to the top floor (the restaurants split over 5 levels), we all gathered round the rooms center bar, where Tom gave us an introduction to what the night had to offer, a little about the company he works for and the drink he was creating in front of us, a Jameson’s whiskey sour. Now I have to admit, I didn’t finish mine. I’m not a fan of whiskey sours but there were plenty of offers in the group to finish it off! We also enjoyed a small beetroot risotto with a herb sour cream to accompany.
After making our way down the flight of stairs, we walked over to Australasia in Spinningfields. Located underground, the entrance looks almost like a shard of glass sticking out of the paving stones. Walking down the flight of stairs, a long, sand coloured room is ahead of you where the seating of the restaurant is, with the bar behind. Here we enjoyed a Grey Goose mix in an Australasian Iced Tea or Fonzerelli’s Punch. Whilst sipping a two rather delightful cocktails, platters of Sushi were brought out (my heart sinking as I’m not the best when it comes to chopsticks!). Rather cunningly, I used the safe bet and re-named the platter ‘finger-food’!
The Alchemist was next on the trail, located just round the corner from Australasia (check out my review on The Alchemist here). The new Bacardi Oakheart was on the agenda, with Oakheart Mojito’s being crafted for us while we enjoyed crispy King Prawns on skewers. After taking in the wonderous setting, we hopped into a taxi and travelled to The Lowry. Their first floor bar was host to Galliano Ristretto Coffee shots that were handed out to be sipped and savoured, followed by a new creation named the Black Forest Gateaux cocktail. We enjoyed the ‘dessert’ part of the night on the balcony overlooking the River Irwell, while waiting for us inside were chocolate fondant’s with salted caramel, and I can safely say they were being made short work of!
The last bar of the night was a short taxi trip to Blackdog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter. Brugal Golden Mojito’s were created for our arrival as we made our way past the bar to the pool tables. A very sweet Mojito cheesecake finished the offerings off well, with a few games of pool to round off a great evening.
The next night, The Spirited Ventures trail took place (the theme of the night was that all the restaurants we will be visiting are owned by Living Ventures). Once again, we met in Albert Square and Tom hailed a taxi for us to travel to our first port of call – Grill on New York. A smaller group than the previous night, we were able to sit round one of the restaurants circular tables, and enjoyed the cocktail White Lady. The drink called for the use of Oxley gin, Cointreau and lemon juice to create a great appetizer! Duck spring rolls were brought out for us to compliment while we introduced ourselves to each other and Tom talked a little about The Liquorists and Living Ventures.
Grill on the Alley was next up, just a short taxi ride away off Deansgate. Sitting next to the bar on high tables and boothed-like seating, we were served a PPP Caiproska (pepper, Pernod and passion fruit) and Thai fish cakes, both being given thumbs up by the group! Live music entertained us from a far, with the restaurant bustling both upstairs and down. A short walk to Australasia (see above for last nights visit) culminated in an Australasia Pornstar with the use of Grey Goose vodka and a range of Sushi to tickle the taste buds.
PPP Caiproska – Grill on the Alley
Unfortunately, Living Ventures new restaurant, The OastHouse was not completed by the time the Manchester Food and Drink Festival rolled around, so we made our way round the corner to The Alchemist for two different offerings in the same bar. Hot Cognac laced mulled wine was a great winter warmer on a chilly night, with chicken skewers being brought out as we sat on the Union Jack leather couches at the end of the bar. Now me being me, i talked about one of The Alchemist most popular drinks, the Smokey Old Fashioned, pretty much all night. Low and behold, a tray of Makers Mark Smokey Old Fashioned’s were place on our table! Fantastic! A round of applause was given to our host as he had to scoot off to help de-construct their tent at the festival hub, while we finished the night sipping and enjoying our Old Fashioned’s, Cognac muld wine and some tasty looking mini burgers.
Two very good nights were enjoyed by all, with Tom showcasing the best that Manchester has to offer in a relaxed, yet almost without knowing it, busy night. Hard to believe by the end of one night, you’ve enjoyed 5 bars, 5 fantastic cocktails and 5 different light-bites.
The Liquorists are hosting a Vodka Trail next, and you can bet you’ll see me on that one!