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Manchester cocktail bucket list: a dozen of the best drinks to try before you die


It’s true. Manchester has no shortage of good drinks. But, some drinks are better than others. Some are so special, so memorable, symbolic, or downright delicious that they’re beyond good. They’re bucket list worthy. The kind of drinks you absolutely have to try before you die. Or just leave Manchester altogether.

For those of you who know your Manhattans from your Martinis and Pina Coladas from your Porn Stars, here’s our picks of the best cocktails in the city, just in time for May 13th – World Cocktail Day.

So get out there and try them. Probably not all in one go though.

Polski Pear – Arcane

Tucked away just off Deansgate you’ll find Arcane Cocktail Bar, a moodily-lit cosy basement space that’s been stripped back to reveal the Grade II listed building’s bare brickwork and original white tiles. Arcane’s skilled bartenders mean business. They’ve made waves by slinging cocktails that are both approachable and inventive. Choose from quirky flavours like the sage and onion daiquiri or the tantalisingly tasty Polski Pear. It’s a fiery drink with a base of pear-infused Zubrowska Vodka topped with Nochello Hazelnut and walnut liqueur, black pepper, lemon and egg white. You’ve never tasted anything like it. If you want to find this covert watering hole, look for the sign and the books in the window. It operates under the alias of a bookmakers. Blink and you might just miss it.

2 S King St, Manchester M2 6EX

Judge Fudge – The Liquor Store

Judge Fudge is sexiness in a glass. It’s a luxurious blend of vanilla vodka, white chocolate, ice-cream and walnut topped with a squirt of cream. The Liquor Store is one of Manchester’s original hidden gems.  Venture away from the beaten track of Deansgate bars towards Salford and you’ll find a cool, unpretentious crowd in a basement bar enjoying great Manchester music, fantastic cocktails and a wicked atmosphere. Think New York cool meets Manchester rock ’n roll. It’s open every night of the week too til 3am. Order yourself a Judge Fudge, kick back and tell them we sent you.

40 Blackfriars Street, Manchester M3 2EG

Porn Star Martini – Dusk Til Pawn

Try the signature Porn Star Martini with vanilla vodka and butterscotch schnapps with a free side of champagne sorbet. Veiled by neon lights and misleading pawn shop facade, Dusk Til Pawn packs a powerful punch for such an unassuming spot. With a jukebox, killer cocktails and a speakeasy vibe, Dusk til Pawn is one of the best bars in the Northern Quarter. They even have an entire list dedicated to Bloody Marys.

Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1FB

Apprentice Manhattan – The First Floor Bar, Cane & Grain

A man’s drink this one. Woodford reserve, bitters, brown sugar and brandy. No gimmicks. No sparklers. No smoking. It’s the sort of drink you’d sip whilst discussing current affairs, Brexit or perhaps a Steinbeck novel. It’s simple yet perfectly sophisticated and probably the best Manhattan you’ll drink this side of New York. Find it in the Science and Industry first floor bar at Cane & Grain. You might want to bring a book and perhaps a pipe to smoke too.

49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA

Rasberri Flosssi – The Laundrette

Head down after work and spend the afternoon sipping on classic cocktails as well as a couple of less common drinks. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, ask for the Rasberri Flossi – Drambuie, Limoncello, apple, cream and grenadine then finished with a ball of candy floss. The Bubblebath is another good bet. One drink here might turn into five but hey, who’s counting?

13 Jack Rosenthal St, Manchester M15 4FN

The Golden Thicket – Wood and Co.

The bar’s called Wood & Company and comes from the folks behind two of Northern Quarter’s most popular venues, NoHo and Dusk ‘Til Pawn on Stevenson Square. Blink and you might miss it as your walk down South King Street. You won’t want to miss this cocktail though; gin, strawberry and balsamic all blending together in a firecracker fusion. It’s a winner.

39 S King St, Manchester M2 6DE

Mercado – El Capo

Sandwiched between Kosmonaut and The Whiskey Jar, El Capo is a downright dirty Mexicana drinking den. It does a mean Mercado and that’s the main thing. It’s infused jalepeno Aquariva, passionfruit, lime, agave and hibiscus foam and packs quite a punch for such a little thing.  If you’re coming with friends the El Jefe is the one to go for – brugal blanco, creme de peche, cazcabel honey, lime, guava, vanilla and topped with prosecco. It’s enormous and comes in a decanter as big as your head. Yes, everyone in the room is looking at you, rock star.

12 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF

Martini Royal – The Milton Club

Martini Royal is part of the elite cocktails range. Expertly crafted concoctions made from the finest exclusive ingredients with snazzy eye popping garnishes to finish. This drink’s no joke- Beluga Russian Vodka, Chambord Blackberry Royale De France, Briottet Creme de Mure, Perrier Jouet Champagne and rose and gold caviar shipped from Paris. If you want to live the lavish life for a night, this one’s for you. Mind you don’t get carried away- at 20 quid each a couple of these badboys will have you booking an appointment with your financial advisor.

244 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4BQ

Espresso Martini – King Street Townhouse

This frothy drink is a classic, made with Wyborowa, Kahlua liquor and a shot of espresso. It’s a magical mix of a drink (rumoured to have been first created for Kate Moss who wanted something to ‘wake her up and f*ck her up’). Grab yourself the classic concoction and head up to the south rooftop terrace to watch the sunset. Or have your breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Ahem.

10 Booth Street,  Manchester M2 4AW

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – The Alchemist

Two words. Molecular heaven. Harry Potter’s master of the dark arts has nothing on these guys.  Every cocktail is made with an obsessive eye for detail and presented in a way that’s bound to bedazzle, bewitch and set the scene for a stellar night out. As a sharing cocktail, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is arguably the star of the show. It’s Ketel One vodka, citrus, elderflower, Cointreau and summer fruits served with a side of snazziness.

Bajan Persuasion – Cloud 23

Feeling like you need a holiday? Not many of us can afford one right off the bat so forget the plane ticket and head up to the clouds (Cloud 23 that is) for a flavour trip around the globe. Sit back, relax and fasten your seat.  I mean treat yourself to an exotic mixture of Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Pouilly Fumé, passionfruit, goji berry and ginger ale. Close your eyes and you’ll be transported straight to the crystal shores of Barbados. Almost.

Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ

Furry Cup – Behind Closed Doors

Keep an eye out for the newest cocktail bar to hit Manchester. Behind Closed Doors is hidden behind a closed door (no surprise there then) and down a narrow stairway lies this drinking den of debauchery and indulgence which opens later this week. This sleek, sexy and downright sleazy throwback bar is one of those that has to be visited to be appreciated. Order yourself a Furry Cup, a mix of Absolute Kurant Vodka, Gifford Creme De Mure, lemon, egg white and white peach and shaken hard for a foamy top. If you’re feeling kinky, maybe try the 50 Shades of Earl Grey.


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