The first rule of The Washhouse. You don’t talk about The Washhouse. But as it’s the season of giving, we’ll let you in on one of Manchester’s best kept secrets.
To the untrained eye, The Washhouse is nothing more than your average laundrette, sat unassumingly in a row of otherwise ordinary shops, a stone’s throw from the Northern Quarter and the Arndale.
But there’s more to this place than meets the eye. There’s no washing and no drying. Just drinking.
The only way to tumble into this mysterious chamber is by pre-booking over the phone. You’ll be given instructions for when you arrive, which will have you side-stepping the suds through a secret door and straight into the belly of this cocktail cavern.
Low-lit, exposed brick and leather clad booths make up the aesthetic of the bar, with a wall of gleaming, bottled spirits turning the otherwise understated setting into an enchanting bejewelled cave, complete with enchanting potions.
After being escorted to one of many buttery-soft booths, our cocktail master, Max, guided us through the latest menu cycle concocted by the creative geniuses behind The Washhouse.
The drinks centre around the theme Our Manchester, giving each creation a story or link to our fair city, from punchy, industrial-inspired crafts to homages to born and bred icons who helped mould Manchester into the place it is today.
This concept gives the menu energy and soul, making it full of pride and flavour to give both locals and out-of-towners a true taste of the town.
Our first round featured Up Stream and Wafflin’ On. The first was an infusion of Manchester’s own Three Rivers Gin, aquavit, smoked salmon and lemon vapour, delivered with drama complete with glass dome and billowing smoke.
Don’t be put off by the uniqueness of its contents. This is a tried and tested formula, fragrant, refreshingly zingy and expertly paired with crème fraîche crowned blinis.
Wafflin’ On is a deep and sensual affair. Warming and rich, one sip will have you journeying to a toasty cabin in the Alps, and arrives complete with a stroopwaffle and snowy scoops of ice cream.
If you’re a serial cocktail sinker, the next round will pique your interest. The Soft Brex-Fast combines a sweet blend of liquor, served with your recommended 30g portion of Coco Pops.
You’ll be advised by your cocktail advisor to combine the components and grab life by the bowl. This is an indulgence enjoyed best when glugged down with gusto – it’s wickedly sweet and a gleefully sinful tipple.
Each and every cocktail is delivered with wild extravagance. The bartenders are expert in what they do and are happy to direct you to a drink which will appeal to whatever mood you’re in, offering you a bespoke experience with every visit.
With prices varying between £9 and £15 for single servings, this is average fare for most specialist cocktail joints, with few delivering the same decadence as The Washhouse.
This is more than just a drinking den. This is an experience filled with drama at every turn and an opportunity to witness pure alchemy. If you’re looking for an exceptional evening out on the tiles, head to The Washhouse for a date night with a difference.
But don’t forget. There’s a strict bookings only policy, so make sure you call 0161 839 5287 to secure yourself a space. And leave the bin liner full of washing at home.
19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF