New kid on the block Manahatta has just arrived in Manchester from across the Pennines.
It may take its name from the original name for Manhattan, but is, in fact, the brainchild of booming Yorkshire company Arc inspirations.
Hugely successful with two sites over in Leeds already with plans in place to open a third in the student district of Headingley, Manahatta is well loved by Loiners for its stylish NY-style interiors, sassy cocktails, American diner foodie favourites and all-day bottomless brunch.
We’d heard great things about the cocktail menu so naturally we had to head down and give it a proper go ourselves.
Split into three sections tailored to whichever part of the day you find yourself drinking in, the overarching theme behind Manahatta’s cocktail menu is ‘time’ – starting at breakfast and taking you right through to sundown.
Curated by Arc Inspirations’ bar development manager, Mark Austin, and the award-winning team from The American Bar at The Savoy in London – with whom Arc has strong links, having sent many of their top bartenders there over the years – the menu features top-selling gin and vodka favourites from Leeds alongside flavourful whiskey and rum-based drinks that have been specially developed to suit Mancunian tastes.
The American Bar’s current manager Declan McGurk was a bar development manager for Arc 8 years ago, whilst other Arc alumni include Pippa Guy (who went on to become the first female head bartender there in 100 years), Joe Lewis-White (who helped develop the second phase of the Manahatta cocktail menu), and Manchester lad Joe Schofield – who we hear is now working on plans to open his own bar here in 2019.
My partner is a huge fan of all drinks bloody, so opted to start with Manahatta’s take on the time-honoured classic pick-me-up that is the Bloody Mary.
This is a cocktail that bartenders generally hate making any time after 2 pm – and especially hate during the after-work rush hour (the bar was BUSY) because it requires so much fiddling and rolling and tasting. That being said, not only did they whip it up for him with a smile, it arrived at our booth promptly and tasted delicious.
When rushed, a Bloody Mary can be over diluted or – even worse – under-spiced. Made with Russian Standard vodka, Picon Amer (a bittersweet French liqueur with a taste of orange), Manahatta’s own house Siraracha spice mix, lemon, tomato and a little red wine, this did the New York staple proud.
I, on the other hand, opted for a Greenpoint Manahatta – their take on a Brooklyn variant of the classic Manhattan, made the traditional way with bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters.
The Greenpoint takes its name from a part of Brooklyn and first surfaced, as far as I’m aware, in Manchester on the bar menu at Bunny Jacksons when it opened its first site on Deansgate Mews.
Made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Punt e Mes sweet vermouth and yellow chartreuse, this sophisticated stir down is strictly composed of hard stuff only and is completely delicious for it. Great for winding down after a long day.
Post-work cocktail cravings satisfied, it was time to line our stomachs with some classic American grub.
Manahatta’s menu is packed with stateside classics. Think burgers, hot dogs and steaks, plus fried chicken and mac’n’cheese.
Clocking local award-winning butchers Grandpas sausages featured on the menu, I opted for Manahatta’s Uptown spicy dog complete with chipotle ketchup, French’s mustard, jalapeños, dill pickle and crispy onions, all stuffed into a soft and sweet brioche bun. It was soft, tasty and devoured at a rate of knots – perfect bar snack food.
My partner, on the other hand, went for the Aberdeen Angus 28 day aged sirloin served with triple-cooked rock salt chips, crispy onions and peppercorn sauce. Sourced in Ilkley from award-winning butchers Lishman’s and priced at the top end of the menu at £24.95, we were intrigued to see how Manahatta’s steak offering lived up to their award-winning next-door neighbours, Hawksmoor.
Cooked medium rare to order, the steak may have come out a little pinker than we’d have expected for that specification, but was well rested with a nice char on it. Clearly a high quality cut of meat, that jasper-juiciness wasn’t quite there but it was still tasty and hit the spot.
Our server also recommended we order some halloumi fries which, coincidentally, happened to be the best I’ve ever had in Manchester. They came out hot, crispy and gooey in the middle – just perfect. Served with a spicy chipotle ketchup, these went down an absolute treat.
We finished off our meal with another round of cocktails – mine a twist on the NYC classic Penicillin, his a thirst-quenching Cucumber Cooler – and a chocolate brownie to share.
It’s easy to see why Manahatta is so popular in Leeds. We expect it to do just as well over here.
If you’re a fan of classic American cocktails and on the lookout for a new drinking den, Manahatta is well worth a look-in.