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.
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.