19 Cafe Bar is known for its independent spirit, generous portions and a brunch menu that lasts all the way til 3pm.
It’s almost hidden away on Lever Street, but once visited, never forgotten. You’ll soon find yourself heading back for a second sample of their eggs benny or big breakfast.
At 5pm, Thursday to Saturday, the brunch and lunch menus are packed away, and the cake covered counter disappears. Out come the cocktail shakers, Martini glasses, and the signature cocktail menu.
Themed around New York City, it features a combination of classics and bespoke creations. In the public interest, I selflessly volunteered to act as guinea pig and try one or two for you. OK four. I tried four.
As I needed a little pick-me-up (it had been a long day), my first selection was an Orange Espresso Martini.
Making use of espresso from our own Heart & Graft roasters, it’s blended with vodka, orange liqueur, and coffee liqueur to create a fruitier version of the classic.
The orange works incredibly well with the coffee, and there’s a rich chocolate note that sweeps across it. It’s moreish. Very moreish. It contains a double shot of espresso, so more than two might see you dancing on the tables.
Not one to miss out on a gin cocktail – never ever – my second selection was a Staten Island.
Our own Manchester Three Rivers Gin is shaken with pineapple, apple, lemon, creme de cassis and local honey. Whilst it sounds like a real sweetie, there’s a definite fruity sharpness to this, that’s softened by the honey right at the end.
I continued the stateside tour with one for the whisky lovers – a New York Sour. This edgy classic uses bourbon, egg white, lemon and sugar, before the top is drizzled with just a little red wine. It takes the sweet and sour nature of the cocktail to another level, adding a little kick of fruit.
Both this and my last recommendation are not shy about the alcohol. Much like the daytime menu, 19 Cafe Bar is generous with its servings.
My final choice was a Brooklyn Old Fashioned, which swaps the classic bourbon for a rich ballsy rum that’s sweetened a touch and stirred down. It’s sweet, heavy and boozy, and the perfect cocktail to finish on for me, like a sticky toffee pudding ending to the cocktail tour.
Alongside these specialities, and the creative gin menu, you’ll find classic cocktails like the Bramble and Pornstar available til late (and on two for £10 til 7pm), making this the perfect place to start your Friday night out, or finish your day in the city.
19 Lever St, Manchester M1 1BY
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