Under New Management (6 Barlow’s Croft, Salford)

Stepping out of our taxi, we looked eagerly around for the legend that is Under New Management.

Down Barlow’s Croft we were pretty shocked to see nothing there, we walked up to the end of the road, turned left and crept back along a narrow alleyway. Gravel crunched under our feet and loud, mechanical sounds boomed and buzzed around us.. where was the bar?

We decided to have another go, I was pretty sure it was my ineptitude keeping us from the cocktails and not the bar itself. Holding my hand to the wall, I walked slowly again down Barlow’s Croft. Passing Number 2 and Number 4, I led my hand over the bricks until I found the black double doors, now glaringly obvious, and a little sign that read ‘Under New Management’.

We were sold. As speakeasy style venues go, this had hit the nail on the head. An understated doorway and inconspicuous sign are all this place needs, as the cocktails scream volumes.

Creeping through the doors, we followed a short corridor to the main bar. A huge, steely blue space opened up before us, shut out from the sunny evening, candles twinkled and low lighting produced a cool and comfortable atmosphere. Giant, red leather booths lay in wait for the crowds to come, and at the bar, a friendly face awaited.

Tony came to be our host for the night, cool and collected, we laughed and joked as he made us some of the best cocktails we’d ever had.

Dragonfly

A light, refreshing cocktail that oozes class and supreme mixology. Vodka and elderflower compose the main body of this cocktail, whilst a hint of citrus is also noticeable. What impressed us the most was the use of white pepper! It enhanced the flavour beautifully whilst the celery bitters also gave it a great taste, something I never would have expected.

Cuckoo Clock Cocktail

One of their most popular drinks, the creative and skillful use of egg whites gives a delicious texture to the gin and lemon. Orange bitters give another dimension to the flavour of this drink, and we noted that it was sweeter than we had anticipated.

Shake A Tail Feather

Gorgeous, frothy and as pink as a flamingo, this sweet and tangy citrus number is perfectly suited being sipped slowly or gulped down. Another one of their spectacular gin compositions, this is made with sloe gin and serves as a fine example of what these experts can do.

shake a tail feather
shake a tail feather

 

Femme Fatal

If you love the taste of parma violets, this is the ultimate retro sweet fix. Violet liqueur is what makes this cocktail so stupendous. Tasting exactly like the classic sweets, with a fruity twist; vodka, raspberry and lemon complete its composition. Beautifully served on one of their hand stamped tissue mats, this is the epitome of girly girl and a fine example of mixology.

Aviation

Not to overload you with violet, but another signature cocktail that receives top marks for taste and ingenuity is this gorgeous creation. Violet liqueur has another starring role in this quality cocktail.

Salford Sling

A bitter grapefruit and tequila mixture, the Salford Sling takes on the Goliath that is Singapore, and comes out fighting. A truly dazzling jewel in Under New Management’s crown, I’m not a fan of bitter drinks personally, but you have to appreciate the brilliant skill and craft put into this cocktail. It goes down very easily too.

Salford Sling
Salford Sling

 

Lounge Lizard

Served in a cute and quirky little vintage glass, this blend of delicious rum, espresso, chocolate and orange bitters screams Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It’s a tart and sweet taste of coffee and chocolate. The best bit is it’s not even bitter, so anyone can appreciate its silky soft and luxurious taste.

Bread and Butter

This cocktail was by far my favourite, as it had all the qualities I look for in a tasty tipple. Sweet, rich and completely new to me, this drink is far better than any bread and butter pudding. Rum infused raisin fuses with bread syrup and is topped off with a vanilla custard cream. I also thought it tasted like cookies, something you can never have too much of in my book.

Lounge Lizard and Bread and Butter cocktails
Lounge Lizard and Bread and Butter cocktails

 

Hot Rod

Something I believe would please the kid in all of us, well definitely me, is this sweet and sour bourbon cocktail. By far the best garnish I’ve ever had, I asked Tony if I could take home the little toy car. Pink, fruity and easy on the way down, this is a great example of why cocktails are the ultimate big kid’s toy.

The perfect garnish
The perfect garnish

We were lucky enough to sample a couple of other amazing drinks on our adventure to Under New Management, as well as watch Tony knock up a brand new cocktail just for my friend, based on what she loves.

These guys are true geniuses in their field, and during the intimate hours of an early evening, they’ll happily chat away and make you your all time favourite cocktails if you can’t see them on the menu. They make as much of their ingredients themselves, and have a wonderful collection of bitters on the bar, which really demonstrate their passion for their work.

Brodie and Tony gave us the best hospitality, undivided attention and a great time, which is why we’ll be back every pay day for the rest of time!

One Night in Bangkok

It’s a long way to go, but if you’re in the area…

Bangkok is bigger than you can dare to imagine. Buildings tower above you and engulf any sense of direction you had. Lights twinkle, headlights glare, and flashing colours dance along the walls at night. Renowned for being a party capital and playing host to the lads in The Hangover 2; it’s only natural to want to have a go yourself.

Thousands of backpackers arrive from every inch of the Earth to start their travels here, but with most only spending one or two nights, hidden gems and cocktail caverns can be hard to find.

As fate would have it, however, I managed to wangle a cool, or rather hot and humid, two weeks in Bangkok in April. Just in time for Songkran (Thai New Year); I got to experience a three day water fight, amazing street food and a bundle of delicious cocktails which are quite a steal given the exchange rate. So, if you’re passing through, I’ve compiled the best and most beautiful places to sink drinks or go wild and party in the city.

Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar – The Marriott Hotel, Sukhumvit

The ultimate rooftop bar in Bangkok, start the night in style with this stunning 360 degree view of the city. A lift takes you up to a sumptuous terrace, glowing under twinkling orange lights and buzzing with chatter and music. Tempting as it may be to whip out your phone and start posting selfies to Twitter, climb the small stairway up to the very top from here, and wait for your breath to be taken away. A totally panoramic, unspoilt view of this metropolis awaits; spin around on the spot or dare to peer over the edge as glass panels are all that separate you and the sky.

take it all in from the top of Bangkok's plushest rooftop
take it all in from the top of Bangkok’s plushest rooftop

I must admit I can’t remember what I drank here, as the view was simply jaw dropping. It was of course, given the standard and exceptional quality of the venue, a great cocktail. My friend sipped a fruity number from a ceramic coconut, whilst mine was sharp and sweet. The main selling point of this venue is the view, you must absolutely visit Octave to get the most spectacular view of Bangkok. A cocktail here will set you back between £6-8, so it would be rude not to stop for at least one.

The Alchemist – Sukhumvit

I know what you’re thinking if you’re from Manchester, Oh My God there’s an Alchemist bar in Bangkok?!! Erm, well no, actually, it’s not the same chain we are familiar with in Manchester, but I reckon it’s equally as delicious and you can be sure it’s a fraction of the price.

This delightful little gem of a cocktail bar is tucked in the middle of a little curved road bustling with booze and bars. Pull up a stool at the understated wooden bar and take in the charm of the exposed brickwork and casual atmosphere. The staff are quick and very friendly, easing you into your spot for the night. A wide mix of music is played depending on what kind of night it is, but as a rule it’s what you’d normally expect from a bar on holiday.

the best hidden gem in Bangkok
the best hidden gem in Bangkok

By far my favourite cocktail here, and possibly my favourite ever was the Love Potion. Sweet, fruity and obviously pink, I fell for it instantly. Another confession I have to make is that, again, I didn’t make a note of the ingredients that made it so amazing, but hey, that can’t have people going around copying it can they?

For the best in budget cocktails that rival the mixology standards of the west, I’d definitely pay The Alchemist a visit! The little road it’s comfortably nestled into is abundant with cool drinking spots and very popular with the locals, so you know it’s good stuff. Give them a follow on Twitter, check out their photos and see if you can get that Love Potion recipe out of them! @thealchemistbkk

The Nest – Sukhumvit

This has got to be my guilty pleasure in Bangkok; catching the lift to the rooftop bar, passing a little pond of colourful fish, walking across the sand and sinking into a massive beach bed with a cocktail. This venue has the longest list of cocktails I came across in Bangkok so you’ll never run out of choices. Chilled out or sometimes live music is played in the background as you peruse the menu for your favourite flavour. I was about to choose a white chocolate tipple but changed to a tangy citrus one at the last minute because it was garnished with a chilli.

choose one of many, many cocktails at this indulgent venue
choose one of many, many cocktails at this indulgent venue

This is a place you can enjoy high end luxuries and treatment for what you would class as a cheap night out back home. Waiter service at the beds and staff prepared to go the extra mile in the name of outstanding service, The Nest has everything you could want for a casual yet classy night of the finer things in life.

Khao San Road – Banglamphu

Okay, so we’ve done the best view, best cocktail and best place to kick back in Bangkok, but what people really remember about Bangkok is Khao San Road. Revered as the centre of the backpacking universe, this is where every weary traveller goes for the ultimate party. Teaming with bars flooding out onto the street, food stalls, kids selling tat – it’s all you could want from the main drinking strip anywhere. Our favourite place to go was the ‘No ID Bar’, it does have a real name like Golf Bar but we spotted the “we don’t check ID” signs way before we found that out. Grab a bucket of strong, fruity cocktails for a few quid and get ready for the best time you’ll ever have.

the one and only Khao San Road
the one and only Khao San Road