There were probably some sore heads in Manchester this morning following last night’s Imbibe UK Drinks List awards.

Three of the city’s bar teams were up for awards: Wolf at the Door (previously Wilderness bar + kitchen), Cottonopolis and The Liars Group.

The Avant Garde Drinks List award rewards bars with imaginative menus that are pushing the boundaries around the country.

This year’s shortlist featured more northern bars than ever with previous winners Cottonopolis losing their crown to NQ rivals Wolf at the Door. Their Aperture cocktail menu was considered by judges to be the most visionary of this year’s entrants.

Concept, content and execution all came together for bar manager Adam Day on the natural menu, which was designed to mirror the seasons with cocktails that put flavour first, using both traditional and cutting edge techniques.

Inside Wolf at the Door’s sleek first floor bar

The Liars Group, meanwhile, beat stiff competition to take home Imbibe’s Group Drinks List of the Year award. The award honours the bar group with the best drinks list in the UK, noting the skill and creativity required to craft imaginative and unique menus for multiple sites.

It’s a big win for the group and a big win for Manchester, as it further cements the trailblazing reputation of the city’s bar scene.

And every year it gets trickier to impress – especially when you consider the growing consumer hunger for authenticity in bar and restaurant choices, and the growing competition to deliver them.

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But this year has seen The Liars Group, whose portfolio includes drinking institutions Cane & Grain, Science + Industry, Crazy Pedros, The Bay Horse Tavern and The Liars Club, push forward with some innovative menus and even develop in-house spirits and beers unique to each site.

In the summer they rolled out their Bay Horse Tavern gin, which features signature botanicals like hay and bay leaves, and more recently the group introduced a Crazy Pedro ‘party brew’ pale ale in partnership with Camden Town brewery.

And no doubt there are more exciting things to come.

Lyndon Higginson, founder and director of The Liars Group and Wolf at the Door commented:

“The response we’ve had to Wolf at the Door has been incredible, we really wanted to offer a menu that showcased effortless yet quality drinks at the same time. Creating drinks with a modern approach but using traditional methods and only the best ingredients is at the core of what Wolf at the Door offers, and it’s amazing to see that we’re clearly doing it very well!

“We started The Liars Group with one thing in mind, to be different and to create concepts that are interesting and far removed from what everyone else is doing. At first, people genuinely thought we were mad, we’ve obviously exceeded expectations and our concepts have a global following – not bad really. Recognition like this is hugely rewarding and a sign that we’re doing the right thing.”

Winners in other categories were highly London centric. The American Bar at The Savoy took home the hotel drinks list award, Brigadiers London whiskey list of the year and Wokingham bar The Leafy Elephant took home the award for gin list of the year.

Londoners Lakikane received the award for rum list of the year, Anthracite Martini Lounge for classic drinks List of the year and Lab 22 Cardiff took home the themed drinks list award.

The overall winners were Blue Bar at The Berkeley, London, who took home the drinks list of the year award.

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