Just under a month after Tim Bacon’s memorial service at The Albert Hall, I went along to pay respects to the late Living Ventures boss and celebrate the birth of his latest incarnation: The Red Door Manchester.
The Red Door is discreet on Deansgate’s high street. Located next to The Botanist, there aren’t any signs to scream and shout of its whereabouts. Perhaps over-promoting a new Living Ventures joint is needless; the crowds will come. There’s something a little bit naughty about entering through the red light doorframe into the basement bar around its well-to-do peers. It is immediately cooler - like a stunning young woman leaning against a back wall with a fag in hand. This feels like a grown-up slice of the Northern Quarter hidden in a nook in D-town. On the left of the bar is a performance or DJ space with an LED “Red Door” sign (perhaps the one they decided not to put outside) and to the right is a horseshoe bar surrounded by bar stools, high-top tables and leather booths. There are various posters painted onto the wall – everything from Steve McQueen to The Smiths - emphasising a Mancunian “I’m cool and I know it attitude".
The Food and Drink
What’s a Living Ventures drinks menu without alchemy and theatrics? The bartender prepared the Bunsen burner and copper pan before creating our Caramelised Rum Punch cocktails (£8.50 each). A fire show later, and we received our drinks. Served long – and with a generous pour of freshly caramelised sugar – they were absolutely delicious. We then opted for a twist on the classic French Martini, comprised of Vodka, Chambord and cranberry finished off with pineapple foam. If we had more time (and more people!) we would have ordered the Disco Ball Sharer cocktail that looked dazzling and prime for the party crowd. Clearly, there’s no expense spared here. Nibbles came in the form of Thai-style fish cakes, southern-fried chicken and various other treats, showing that the notoriety of Red Door isn't merely reserved to cocktails.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
We attended the bar’s launch party, which was speckled with Manchester’s finest socialites, food-and-drink journalists; a wide range of ages, heights and incomes hung around the tables, chatting happily. We spotted a nonchalant Ray Quinn perched by the bar and there were no doubt other famous faces within reach. If it’s anything like its Liverpuddlian bro, The Red Door will attract a younger crowd than the fancy Living Room types a few doors down. We’re expecting DJs, dancing and dates for those who want a step-up in refinement from those crazy NQ kids or boho dives.
Tim Bacon’s legacy clearly lives on at The Red Door. Changing the world one thoughtful cocktail and drink at a time. Pop in and raise a glass, I’d say.