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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!

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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

Edinburgh Gems

There’s nothing quite like the sun shining on a crisp, cold afternoon. Walking in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, I explored the bright, airy streets of his home, admiring the dazzling red door to his house and the famous street lamp at its entrance.

After a long walk it was time to sample the well known boutique cocktail bars of the area – New Town. I crossed the vibrant greenery of Queen Street Gardens and headed for Thistle Street. The name alone was delightfully Scottish and the narrow passageway dwarfed by the towering buildings felt very continental, but also reflected the style of the old Edinburgh streets where many people lived above one another in buildings so high the daylight was concealed from ground level.

I reached my first stop: The Bon Vivant (55 Thistle Street)
The interior was dark and cozy, vintage posters enhanced the causal yet chic atmosphere and the stunning wooden bar served as an alluring centre point, drawing your eye towards their huge variety of tipples. I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone, with ingredients typical of Scottish mixology trends such as ginger jam and bitters… I went for the Flor De Muerto.

FlorDeMuerto
FlorDeMuerto

A cool, refreshing, tequila based cocktail with a surprising hint of thyme. Fantastically sophisticated; honey, lemon juice, peach bitters and soda finish the composition of the drink. Bitters feature in a lot of Edinburgh’s cocktails, echoing the older methods of cocktail making which are observing a comeback. This is not a sweet drink but it has a fruity kick that invites you to drink slowly and savour the complexity of the flavours.

My next destination was a complete guilty pleasure, the cocktails were more akin to the traditional cheap and cheerful drinks we expect to find on offer in pubs and clubs rather than a luxurious bar. But, I am no cocktail snob, and the themed interior made for a really enjoyable experience.

Jekyll & Hyde (112 Hanover Street) This is one of four pubs in the Eerie Pub Co group. The concept is described as a “ghoulishly gothic theme” and it absolutely delivers. It offers a range of cocktails amusingly named after the 7 Deadly Sins and 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, of which Death is certainly the strongest! Full to the brim with rum, grenadine and fruit juices it is a tasty treat and great value if you want to get very drunk! Lust is a gorgeous drink similar to a cosmo, Sloth is the equivalent of a screaming orgasm cocktail, Gluttony is a sex on the beach and Pride is similar to a blue lagoon. These will set you back £4 each and if you can manage all 7 Deadly Sins there’s a free t-shirt thrown in!

Hidden Toilets
Amazing Themed Bar #secretdoors

jh2 jh3

Find an eerie pub near you: http://www.eeriepubs.co.uk

Bramble Bar (16A Queen Street – underneath the alterations shop) Do not miss this hidden gem! I couldn’t find this place on my first attempt, but as I crept down the steps and into the bar I felt like I’d stumbled on an undiscovered wonder!

hiddengem
hiddengem

Thriving beneath Queen Street; white brick walls, dim lights, large benches and shabby chic furniture create a cool, secretive vibe like you are part of an exclusive, trendy, boho club. There is a copper tap rising out of the bar which keeps you topped up with water as you sample the delights on offer.

the interior @BrambleBar
the interior @BrambleBar

bramble4

The bar staff are wonderful hosts, talking you through every aspect of your drink and detailed descriptions of the ingredients. I’d advise getting down early (it opens at 5pm) to take advantage of their extensive knowledge. I was lucky enough to be served by Jon, who made the UK final for Bombay Sapphire’s World’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition – an astounding accolade.

Butter-Scotch: Not what it seems! The name is derived from the use of butter to adapt the Monkey Shoulder malt scotch whiskey (I still don’t quite understand how it works) to create a smooth texture and flavour. This ingredient is prominent in many cocktails in Edinburgh and despite being excellently crafted, a bit too strong for my tastes. Luckily the kind bartender watered it down with more orange juice for me. More Scottish features  of the drink were the ginger jam and widely used bitters. The flavour was sweet but with a strong accompanying taste of whiskey. Sipped slowly you can appreciate the craft of the drink and the creative mind behind the recipe.

Butter-Scotch
Butter-Scotch

The Espresso Experiment: Another drink that turns your perceptions on their head. A real accomplishment in mixology – a variety of flavours such as vanilla, caramel, cream and sugar are distilled and captured, then ingeniously mixed with Bacardi. This is also done with extracts from coffee beans and syrups to create a blend that smells and tastes exactly like a strong coffee, with subtle notes of all the other flavours. What is most mind blowing, however, is that it’s completely clear! A must try for coffee lovers.

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!