It may come as a surprise to some but there is more to Manchester than top flight football. As well as being home to two great teams, Manchester’s music scene has influenced the UK for a generation and the city boasts more than its fair share of world-class cocktail bars. It is little wonder that the BBC relocated from London to Manchester. In fact there are so many good bars in the city that we will be returning to Manchester and exploring some more. This week and in no particular order, we are going to take a look at three of the best.
The Liars Club is a popular Manchester tiki bar and to say it is on fire would not be an understatement. This basement bar is located just off Deansgate in Manchester and is owned by the Black Dog Ballroom which will feature in a future article. Olly Foster and Lyndon Higginson are the mixologists behind the excellent cocktail menu and while it has a very tropical holiday feel about it, the list is far more adventurous than margaritas and mojitos.
As you might expect in a tiki bar there are plenty of fruity classic and sharing options but the specials list is just that, special. The Zombie is an all-time classic, one of the Liars Club’s best sellers, even though it is limited to just two per person. The Captain’s Rum Fizz is named after ‘Captain’ Lyndon Higginson, owner of the bar and its mix of rum, fresh fruit and vanilla make it another favourite among the regulars. For those with a sweet tooth, the blend of fresh mango, Koko Kanu coconut rum, condensed milk and fresh lime finishes with spiced paprika make the Man-Go-Coco-Loco a must try.
The club’s decor is warm, snug and cleverly done. The ceiling is palm leaves and straw giving the impression of being inside a beach hut, while the deep use of rum reds and barrels for tables make for a convincing and very welcome illusion. This really is a fun place to be.
Almost Famous is completely famous for its burgers. Mancunians will tell you that they are the best burgers in the country and they might just be right. However, this blog is all about cocktails so we are going to focus on that side of the menu and if you hear a Mancunian telling you that they are the best cocktails in the country, they might just be right again.
The new venue is larger than before, much much larger, seating around 200 and open from noon to 11:00pm for food but thankfully the upstairs cocktail bar goes on a little longer than that. There is no doubt that Almost Famous is driven by the boundless energy of its founder Beau Myers and his irreverent sense of fun but it is the team around him that make it all happen and first among them is world class mixologist Jonathan Leathley.
There have been Mexican restaurants in the UK for decades but they have become really trendy over the last few years and Lucha Libre is one of the best. Situated right next door to Almost Famous, Lucha Libre has a more creative menu than most modern mexicans, serving dishes that have their foundations in the street food of Guadalajara. However, the decor and ambience are colourful and stylish and couldn’t be further from a mexican street scene. Thankfully there isn’t a single, cheesy sombrero in sight either. What they do have is a really strong cocktail list and quite naturally, many of those are tequila based.
Conor Foley is a resident mixology maestro and tequila specialist with a knowledge of the cocktail menu that is second to none, which is good because the list is comprehensive and filled with flavour. There are homemade, bottled sparkling cocktails, Los Gecko punches for 2 to 3 people and my favourite the Mayarita.
El Jimador Blanco Tequila
Giffard Tripple Sec
Fresh lime juice
Dash of agave syrup.