Manchester’s highest restaurant has this week shaken up its bar menu, creating six new seasonal cocktails full of the joys of Spring.
Headed up by bartender David Stanley, the new menu uses old and new techniques including fortification, fermentation, milk punch clarification, rotary-evaporation, shrubs, tinctures and more.
It may sound very technical, but the results are deliciously drinkable. We tried them all – in the name of research, of course – to find out more.
David suggests we split the six cocktails into three ‘courses’, starting with the lightest and moving towards the heavier and sweeter drinks.
First up is a Milk Coke Royale, made with Milk Coke, Belvedere vodka and champagne.
“Milk Coke is something I discovered online, and it’s quite divisive,” laughs David about the concoction, which is exactly what you’re thinking: milk and Coke.
“We wanted to try it to see what it was like. We make it here, and carbonate it.”
The idea is that the Coke and the milk pair well with the champagne. And does it work? Yes, absolutely – though it’s a pretty unusual combo.
The creaminess of the milk complements the butteriness of the champagne, and the sugar in the Coke pairs with its acidity.
Next is the drink that’s certain to get people talking: Asparagus Fizz.
Made with Ketel One Vodka, homemade English asparagus syrup, lemon and soda water, and garnished with a vivid green spear, the super-seasonal tipple is certainly unusual – but asparagus fans will love it.
“I really wanted to get asparagus on the menu, while it’s in season,” explains David.
“I went down so many different routes trying to infuse it in a drink. But we came back to simplicity, and went for an asparagus syrup.”
The syrup is made by roasting the asparagus on a low heat and then blending it with sugar and water, and the result is light, zingy and refreshing – with a hefty hit of asparagus, naturally.
The drinks start to get more full-bodied with Zacapa Sarsaparilla, which is made with Ron Zacapa 23yr rum, byrrh (an aromatic wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle and quinine), homemade sarsaparilla cordial, and Bobby’s cola bitters.
“The original idea was based on how the Spaniards enjoy red wine and Coca-Cola together,” says David. “But it’s gone so far past that, it’s beyond recognition.”
The homemade sarsaparilla cordial brings the flavour of root beer, and there are notes of brown sugar, licorice and fennel seeds.
The cola bitters are made in-house, a time-consuming process but one which packs in flavour.
“We use a rye base and add liquorice, fennel, Coca-Cola, star anise, and a mixture of herbs and spices and let it sit for three months,” explains David. The result is delicious.
Master Huntsman is stronger again, made with German herbal liqueur, Cointreau and lime.
“It’s a simple twist on a margarita, but we use a German herbal liqueur instead of tequila,” says David about the short drink, which is infused with aromatic anise flavours.
As for what the German liqueur is, you can probably guess (its name translates as ‘hunt master’, and you’re probably more used to having it as party shots), but here it’s much more grown up and elegant.
Pear Cobbler, made with Fino sherry, pear infused Hennessy VS and cinnamon syrup, is the first of the ‘pudding’ cocktails, but it’s not too heavy or sweet.
“We make a pear infused brandy by leaving the pears in brandy for 24 hours then straining it,” says David.
“We use a dry Fino sherry, and to balance the dryness we use a bit of cinnamon syrup. It’s a different type of dessert cocktail, going for a sherry base. A bit of a palate cleanser.
“It’s kind of like the way you would have an espresso at the end of an evening rather than a hot chocolate.”
But chocoholics won’t want to miss the next drink: Death By Chocolate.
It’s a boozy mix of Hennessy VS, Patron Silver, Don Julio Reposado, Agave, angostura bitters, and chocolate ganache.
“It’s not shy, alcohol wise,” warns David about the chocolate milk-like concoction, not overly sweet and served in stylish matte black glassware.
The chocolate ganache is made in-house using 54.7% dark chocolate and double cream.
“It’s quite intensive to make, but well worth it,” smiles David.
We couldn’t agree more. It’s simply stunning.
One thing’s for sure – this latest cocktail collection is guaranteed to put a spring in your step.