Describe the perfect date? Aside from April 25th, my idea of the ultimate date night in Manchester would consist of drinks, food… and more drinks. From hidden bars and sexy restaurants to quirky classes, the city is bursting with ideas for a romantic evening. But when you fancy all that under one roof? There’s Three Little Words.
Sandwiched between Spinningfields and Oxford Road, Three Little Words occupies the space under three restored railway arches on Watson Street. It’s the brainchild of the team that brought you Manchester Gin, so it goes without saying that there’s going to be a whole load of botanical-based creations on the menu.
It’s hard to miss the softly glowing bar; it’s got that classic industrial bare-brick style, while simultaneously kitted out with contemporary fittings and art deco barstools. On the left there’s the restaurant - scattered with glowing drop lights and cosy corners - then on the right is the distillery. That’s where my date and I started.
With a signature G&T (£9.50) in hand, we joined the group that had gathered for Gin School (£85) in The Spirit of Manchester Distillery next door. Surrounded by stills of every size, we were introduced to the history of gin; from its reputation as Mother’s Ruin and the origin of ‘blind drunk’ over to how the industrial revolution affected its production. And then - the main attraction - time to distil our own gin.
Scattered with two rows of copper stills, tasting glasses and instructions, the blending room was where the magic happened. After a tasting of Manchester Gin’s top blends, it was onto another G&T and a lesson on botanicals. In addition to the usual juniper, angelica and orris root, I loaded my concoction with everything from almond and pink peppercorn to dandelion and bay leaf. Then it was time to up the heat and watch as my mix came to liquid life.
Armed with our personalised bottles, we moved onto dinner and drinks in the restaurant. Sticking to gin, I kept it simple with a Bed of Roses (£10). Matching raspberry gin with hibiscus, rose water and a top of prosecco, it was a sweeter choice in comparison to my date’s bergamot, lemon and Earl Grey-infused Berga & Earl (£10.50). Equally as impressive as the drinks, food ranged from small plates like flavour-packed chicken bhajis (£7) to a tart scallop ceviche (£8.50) that balanced apple, radish and citrus with jalapeno and fennel.
Mains were just as drool-worthy, with my crispy duck leg (£12.50) resting in a tangy plum, sesame and soy sauce and paired with a beansprout salad. Across the table, braised oxtail (£13) swam in a sea of polenta and pickled onion. Stepping things up with a heady mix of gin, Pedro Ximinez sherry, amaro and pear with a bourbon-soaked cherry, Making Moves (£9.50) was exactly the bold pick that my dinner date was after. With it being our anniversary weekend, I couldn’t resist ending on the ironically named Grounds For Divorce (£11) and with overboard gin, orange-aged rum, Tonka syrup and a drop of Mr Black, this was the perfect counterpart to a port-laced sticky toffee pudding (£6).
The DesignMyNight Digest
After drinks, dinner and the chance to distil your own gin? Whether you’re after one or all three, this intimate all-in-one should be on your list. Skip Spinningfields, Ancoats and the Northern Quarter and head a little far afield where Three Little Words has got the kind of low-key glamour that makes for an unrivalled date night.