“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a famous English-language pangram. Budding secretaries used to type it over and over again to practise their touch typing and ensure all their typewriter keys were working.
And as from today the Quick Brown Fox is also a brand new bar in the Northern Quarter.
So why the name? Did the building used to be a typewriter factory? Is there some reference to its connection with the Alphabet Brewing Company?
The answer is no. The name was chosen, we’re told, for two reasons. Firstly, it sounds kind of like an old man’s pub brought into the 21st century. Secondly, owner Joe Fearnhead thought the reference might resonate with the wealth of designers and creatives who live in the area.
We can’t speak for anyone else, but it certainly tickled us.
It’s the latest venture from the team behind Alphabet Brewing Company and PLY and it’s been two years in the making. Issues such as flooding, power, and planning permission stalled progress on the project, with Joe telling us everything that could’ve gone wrong pretty much did.
But it’s now finally ready to open its doors, and will make a welcome addition to Swan Street – an area gradually being populated with places like Mackie Mayor, Ciaooo pizza and Sammy’s bridging the gap between the Northern Quarter and Ancoats.
It’s located on the corner of Oldham Street and Great Ancoats Street but the tinted windows don’t give much away from the outside. Step through the double glass doors, however, and you’ll find reclaimed wood flooring, lots of hanging and potted plants, and deep, emerald green booths.
There’s more seating in the form of low leather armchairs, sofas and a handful of round wooden tables and chairs. Exposed brickwork painted black adds a refreshingly chic touch.
A gleaming brass bar flanks the back wall, offset by white subway tiling with dark green grouting. Above it hang bare bulbs.
The ethos behind the drinks list is one of environmental sustainability, with a rotating selection of cocktails, natural wines and craft beers served almost exclusively on tap to minimise waste.
Payment is by card only. They will, however, probably be putting a till in too for that one person on a Saturday night who for some reason only has cash.
Much of the craft beer will be made locally at the bar’s brewery just down the road. The rest will be sourced from other local and national craft breweries.
The decision to stock just low intervention, natural wines also adds to the Quick Brown Fox’s environmentally sustainable credentials.
Free from chemical and physical intervention in the winery, this style of production requires farmers to be more hands-on in the vineyards and to adopt water and energy conservation practices that are better for the land, for the wine, and for drinkers too.
It also makes for tastier wine, by allowing the grapes to develop a flavour more reflective of the terroir, climate and vintage.
On the cocktail front, general manager Daniel Smith (aka Danny Keko), formerly of Beautiful Drinks, Kosmonaut and The Liars Club, has curated a list that includes clarified strawberry daiquiris, white negronis and nitro espresso martinis (giving them that freshly shaken look straight out of the tap).
On top of the rotating tapped offering, they have also been working to curate a seasonal wine list that will feature 20 additional wines by the bottle with the award-winning, genre-disrupting Bloomsbury wine bar, magazine and restaurant Nobel Rot.
They’re particularly proud of their new red wine fridge which will keep all bottles at an optimum temperature of 16-18 degrees. Joe reckons the wine you get out and about in Manchester is just far too warm.
Plans for the future include the introduction of a food offering that will see them working with local cheese and cured meat suppliers to offer tasty sharing boards.
Downstairs, there’s room to extend underground and with Joe hoping to create a second room next year for tasting events and maybe even club nights. For the meantime, though, they’ll be running monthly sessions in the main bar.
Alongside places like fellow Northern Quarter newcomer Wilderness NQ, Quick Brown Fox looks to confirm a new trend is fast taking hold of the area. Mindful drinking and environmental sustainability are become increasingly important to consumers, and we can only see these sort of ethically-minded establishments growing in numbers over the coming years. And a welcome change it is, too.
After all, we could all do with some encouragement in adopting more sustainable lifestyle practices. And if we get to drink some exceptional wine whilst doing so, who could possibly object?
1-5 Swan Street, open today and from 5pm every day