The Liquor Store on First Street is the first of two new bars on the stretch, bringing some much needed after work/early hours drinking appeal to the area, making it a more tempting destination.
The Manc meets Yank style mimics the original venue on Blackfriars, with walls lined with famous locals including the likes of Tony Wilson, Liam and Noel, Steve Coogan and Les Dawson. It recently launched with its own walk of fame of Manchester stars on the sidewalk leading up to the bar.
It’s a cheeky place to eat, drink and party, perfectly pitched with a predominantly Manc rock & roll soundtrack. We arrived to Ballad Of The Mighty I by Noel’s High Flying Birds and our feet didn’t stop tapping from there in. Music plays such a big part in the atmosphere here, even our drinks menus are printed on record sleeves containing real vinyl.
The bar is crammed with colourful liquors from around the world. Cocktails are a big part of Liquor Store so we ordered a couple recommended by the bartender. We tried Material Girl, an exotic gin based tall drink with lychee, passion fruit and flowers and Voodoo Child, a much more manly and robust number, smoky with Aberfeldy Whisky.
As far as the food is concerned, it’s a classic American menu, which means big. And when we say big, we mean big. Portion sizes reflect those of our American cousins but, happily, this isn’t reflected in the price.
For starters, Stuffed Jalapenos are a triumph. Big chunky jalapenos are stuffed with spiced cream cheese and wrapped in tasty, salty and crispy smoked pancetta. We loved this starter.
Slow Cooked Brisket Hash looked less assuming in its little pan with soft fried hen egg on top but was equally impressive. The pulled beef, onion and potato were perfectly balanced with the rich egg and well-seasoned. So hearty and warm it’s perfect for a cold day.
We shared a Fish Feasting Board and no scrimping on this either. It comprised soft shell crab with tangy lemon and lime mayo, popcorn shrimp with Cajun spiced mayo; frickles, a new one for me, like vegetable tempura but made with pickled gherkins; mini hot smoked salmon bagels with spinach cream cheese; corn on the cob; and some very good skin-on fries. All on one board. Maybe too much fried food for some people’s taste but we did say think American.
The last dish we managed to squeeze in before we were fit to burst was the Monte Cristo Sandwich. It comes on sourdough eggy bread, and is packed with smoked turkey, Monterey Jack cheese, and tomato. An absolutely fantastic, mouth-watering, juicy, packed sandwich. No dry bread or pulling the crusts off here.
We also enjoyed the Short Mile Bay Chardonnay, served by the glass, as a lot of bars tend to steer away from this once popular grape. It’s a good example of how well suited this full bodied white can be with food, especially food big on flavour, as it’s a white that can hold its own.
The classic American menu is another reason to visit the creative hub on First Street. The Liquor Store on First Street is somewhere you might casually pop in for lunch or for that quick after work cocktail. But just the one mind because it’s the kind of place you just might find yourself still at last orders!