Manchester’s highest restaurant has launched a new bar menu this month – and it’s worth shouting about from the rooftops.
Headed up by bartender David Stanley, the team has created six seasonal new drinks full of festive cheer. And there’s definitely more to them than meets the eye.
We tried them all – in the name of research, of course – to find out more.
“Using seasonal ingredients is very important, as the quality of the products we use to create these drinks is the foundation of what ends up in the glass in front of the customer,” says David, who has been instrumental in creating the new concoctions.
“We are utilising a lot of new and old techniques, including fortification, fermentation, carbonation, and more.”
We start with Let’s Get Figgie With It, a light, fruity drink packed full of autumnal flavours.
“It’s one of the most traditional cocktails on the new menu,” says David about the puntastic new creation which consists of Belvedere vodka, fig cordial, apple and cardamom.
The fig cordial is made in-house from scratch, the fruit vacuum packed with sugar to draw out the flavours. A bit of tartaric acid (an organic acid that occurs naturally in many plants, most notably in grapes) brings the sweetness back down and stops it becoming cloying.
If you wanted to pair it with food, David suggests perhaps a game bird, which sounds perfect to us. Hello, autumn.
Next up is Cream & Green – a thoroughly original creation made with Hendricks gin, black pepper, lemon, pickled cucumber syrup and sour cream.
The ingredients sound like they’d be more at home on a bagel with smoked salmon, to be honest. We look slightly nervous.
“It’s definitely the most out-there!” says David. “But milk punch is actually a historical drink, and so this is our modern take on one.”
The cucumber is pickled in-house for a month and strained with sugar to make a syrup. In the last week they introduce the rest of the ingredients and leave it in their cellar for about three days, before straining.
It’s definitely unusual – strong, sharp and unashamedly grown-up.
And then we’re back to the puns, and they don’t come much better than Nicholas Sage: a lighter and slightly savoury drink presented simply and without unnecessary flourish.
The base is Tanqueray 10 gin, combined with sweet pineapple, zingy lime, and a tincture made with sage and Aperol.
“We take whole bunches of sage, salt and lavender bitters, let it mix in Aperol and then strain it, and so you get a very intensely flavoured version of Aperol that we make ourselves,” says David, who suggests it would go perfectly with lamb dishes if you wanted to try it with a meal.
Fortified Tepache is another drink that you won’t find anywhere else in the city – weird, wonderful and five days in the making.
“Tepache is an old historical Mexican beer made with pineapple and sugars as a base, and it makes a rustic beer,” explains David.
“We put cloves, cinnamon, star anise and a little bit of scotch bonnet in our homebrew. There are two fermentations, then we add two types of tequila.
“There’s a kind of sour flavour to it – complex and interesting. I don’t know any other bars that are brewing their own tepache.”
If you’re looking for something sweeter, Doctor Doctor is a dessert-like creation full of peach liqueur and Guatemalan rum.
It also contains byrrh, an aromatised apéritif made of red wine, mistelle and quinine created in 1866 and once popular as a French apéritif.
Finally, Tiki Stories is the bar’s short and strong take on a zombie, topped with a beautiful picture of blustery palm trees printed with edible ink.
“It’s a zombie taken up 20 flights of stairs,” laughs David.
The petite but intoxicating concoction is made with a whopping four types of rum: light Havana 3 Year, coconutty Koko Kanu, dark caramelly Lambs Navy, and super-boozy Wray & Nephew with its mouth-watering banana and toffee flavours.
As if that isn’t enough, it also includes a ‘zombie jam’ made in-house with grenadine, grapefruit syrup, angostura bitters, lime, and absinthe. Not that it needs any more of a punch.
“It’s the smallest new drink on the menu, but it knocks your socks off!” says David. He’s not wrong.
20 Stories know a thing or two about cocktails, of course. Selling a staggering 3,101 per week, they aim to increase this number with the new bar menu additions.
From what we’ve seen, they’ll have no trouble. See you at the bar.