Grand Pacific (The Avenue, Spinningfields)

Sheets of fine raindrops swept across the white paving stones of Spinningfields. The floor reflected the darkening sky with a medley of blue and grey hues, interrupted by bursts of twinkling orange and yellow. Delicate fairy lights, coiled tightly around a young tree, drew me in like a moth to a flame. I felt my thin shoes splash through those glittering puddles towards the tree, and found myself outside Grand Pacific.

I instantly felt Manchester fall away, out of my peripheral vision, and before me stood a beckoning white porch. Filled to the brim with exotic plants and leaves, more twinkling lights peeked through the flora, whilst benches laden with white, blue and oyster cushions stretched across the length of the veranda.

Inside, your senses are transported back to a time of colonial opulence; whitewashed wooden tables and stools, tall, deep chairs, simple yet sumptuous furnishings and plants over ten feet high. The bar is aglow in orange light that cascades into yellow then lime light.

I found the cocktail menu straight away, and what’s interesting about it is the descriptions are limited, encouraging you to strike up conversation with the friendly staff. I met a fantastic barman called Kris, he navigated the tall shelves amazingly: with fluid movements he was able to reach any ingredient in the blink of an eye.

Kris recommended one of his favourites, the Tom Collins.

A classic cocktail that has been around since at least the 17th Century, the Tom Collins is delightfully simple and astoundingly refreshing. A serving of gin, squeezes of lemon juice, a sprinkle of sugar and topped with soda water, this drink quenches the strongest thirst and excites the tastebuds. At Grand Central they add a slice of cucumber. Now, personally I hate cucumber, but this cocktail convinced me that there is a place for it in the world. The cool, subtle flavour adds another layer to the drink and smooths the texture, calming the fizz.

Tom Collins
Tom Collins

On my next visit to the bar I selected Round The Twist, as it reminded me of the TV show I watched as a child and since Grand Pacific is linked to Australasia, I wanted to imagine they named the cocktail after the Australian show. When asking Kris about the ingredients I realised it was something I would never have chosen if had I seen the description, as the flavours were bold, adventurous and new to me. But I braved the unknown and wasn’t disappointed.

Boasting flavours of ginger, lychee and lime, Round The Twist is an enticing cocktail that buzzes with sweet and sour tones, but always invites another sip. Composed out of vodka and an exquisite Caribbean liqueur, Velvet Falernum, the cocktail goes down easily if not a little too quickly. Definitely a new favourite of mine and an absolute must try when visiting Grand Pacific.

Round Thw Twist @Australasia
Round The Twist @Australasia

Liquorice Bar (50 Pall Mall, Off King Street)

What can only be described as a delicious hidden gem! I literally stumbled upon this place after weaving through the narrow back streets in town, trying to find my way back onto a road I recognised. It had been a long day of bar hopping for my boyfriend’s birthday and I found this place impossible to resist, one more stop before tea.

It was early evening in January. The dark of night was creeping into every corner of the street and my fingers were cold with the icy bite of the air. Straight ahead I saw the glinting candles in the windows, and the two barmen setting up for the night: the calm before the storm.

We headed inside and perched on some bar stools next to a long oblong display unit. Encased in glass was a proud display of the fine spirits and liqueurs they had to offer.

I made a beeline for the cocktail menu and knew I was onto a winner…

We all know after a while that traditional cocktails like sex on the beach and blue lagoon just don’t excite us like they used to. Nor do they make our hearts flutter in anticipation or mouths water. But here I found a tempting range of cocktails I didn’t know existed. Another bonus was the 2 for £11 offer! I made my selections and speed walked to the bar to place an order…

RASPBERRY AND PASSIONFRUIT MARTINI:

Vodka, passoa, raspberry, lemon & passionfruit syrup. Amazingly simple and lusciously sweet, this is a beautiful take on the martini. Anything that uses passoa is good in my book and this cocktail gave it a whole new lease of life for me. Fruity flavour combinations scream ‘cocktail’ and ‘holiday’ to me and this little treat in the heart of winter gave the night a burst of vitality.

JAM DAIQUIRI:

Gold rum, elderflower liqueur, strawberry, strawberry jam & a zing of lime. This may sound like another sweet toothed dream but in fact the lime juice, tart of the jam and deepness of the rum mellow the flavour to a much more mature level. I had this straight after the martini and it definitely wasn’t sugar overload. I much preferred this cocktail despite absolutely loving the first, I believe it was the discovery of something completely new. The delicious, refreshing strawberry taste left me wanting another.

Jam Daiquiri @liquoricebar
Jam Daiquiri @liquoricebar
2 for £11 @liquoricebar
2 for £11 @liquoricebar

We All Love A Good Drink!

I’m not a drinking expert. I’ve not had grape lessons; I like my wine with a simple screw top and I can barely drink a bottle without collapsing into a mess, but what I love are cocktails.  There’s nothing I’d rather write about than these luscious, sweet, boozy and sometimes terrifying tipples.

Living in Manchester I have the freedom to explore all corners of the city. The Northern Quarter is a force to be reckoned with, especially on a hot summer’s day, when the intention to visit every bar can be overpowered by a beguiling cocktail from the second place you stop at. Deansgate, if you can make it that far afterwards, has an exquisite array of bars and restaurants to discover: boasting Spinningfields at one end and Castlefield at the other.

I do however like to venture further afield, with a huge list of places to sample on my next expedition out of the city. So; if you’re stuck for ideas, love trying new drinks and places, but aren’t particularly an expert either, I’m going to bring all the amazing cocktails I find right back here for you to nosey at (pretty pictures included!)

Enjoy!