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Inside Sonata – a new basement cabaret lounge in a hidden Manchester alley

With table service, live music every night and classic cocktails, Sonata has a ‘speakeasy’-style entrance and a laid-back feel

Tucked away in a basement on St Ann’s Alley, new piano and cabaret lounge Sonata is set to open its doors this week – and it looks to be a new favourite for music-loving Mancunians.

The new late-night live music venue is inspired by the cabaret clubs of New York and Berlin.

But, says owner Dale Bassett, despite the international inspiration, there will definitely be “a warm Manchester welcome”.

Dale, a trained singer and cabaret artist who left performing for a career in education and business, decided to return to his musical and theatrical roots with his new venture.

Opposite Mr Thomas’s Chop House, guests will enter Sonata through a ‘speakeasy’-style entrance.

Head down the stairs, and it’s an elegant space with a state-of-the-art sound system and a stage complete with baby grand piano, as well as selection of tables and high stools.

It’s quite the transformation from its previous incarnation – the basement storeroom of the former Boots.

“This is a brand new space that’s never been open to the public before,” says Dale about the basement bar.

“It was like a concrete bunker – but as soon as I saw it I knew it was absolutely the right space for Sonata.”

Sonata will be open seven nights a week from 5pm until the early hours, for drinks before or after dinner or the theatre, with live music every night from 9pm.

There will be full table service, with a range of classic cocktails – and for those who fancy a bite while they enjoy the evening’s entertainment, a tempting selection of cheese, charcuterie and vegan platters will be on offer.

“The table service means there’ll be no crowding, no queuing at the bar,” says Dale.

“You know once you’re in, you’ve got a table and you’ll be taken care of – you can just relax.

“I want it to be really friendly, really welcoming.

“We want people to feel like it’s their space, somewhere they can come and just chill out.”

No cabaret lounge is complete without some classic cocktails, and Dale is celebrating local suppliers with his drinks menu.

“We’ve got an extensive cocktail list, but it’s all about doing the classics really well,” says Dale.

“We’re working with Manchester Gin – they do vermouth and rum as well as gin – so our signature martini is based around their gin, vodka and vermouth.

“And I have to say, it’s a damn fine martini.”

When it comes to the live music, there will be a variety of local, national and international talent in a highly eclectic programme, says Dale.

Acclaimed West End star Alex Young, cabaret icon Paulus and distinguished jazz pianist and vocalist Jeremy Sassoon are among those leading the bill.

The line-up features outstanding local musicians including songstress The Chanteuse, soul singer and pianist Charlie Cooper and pop sensation Passmore, while husband and wife duo The Retrosettes will host a regular residency.

And Sonata will also showcase some of Manchester’s most exciting up-and-coming talent, says Dale.

Will Dale himself be performing, given his musical background?

“Not too much,” laughs Dale. “I’ll mainly be focussed on running the venue and making sure the guests have a good time.

“But I can’t promise I won’t take the mike every now and again…”.

Sonata opens on Thursday 23rd June on St Ann’s Alley, and will be open daily from 5pm. Tables can be pre-booked, and there will be space for walk-ins.

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