Considering it’s a stone’s throw from the City Centre, on the corner of Blackfriars Street just off Deansgate, The Liquor Store seems like a reasonably well kept secret. After opening in November 2012, its chilled mix of Manchester tunes, great cocktails and funky décor has meant it’s furrowed a place right in Manc hearts as somewhere where you’ll always find a welcome atmosphere and good friends. Guided by our Moustachioed bar Guru Danny, we headed down on a Saturday night to see what all the fuss was about.
The venue is a pantheon to Manchester’s cultural forefathers - pictures of Hatton, Gallagher and Partridge are scattered over walls and amongst the stag skulls and embarrassing team staff shots. Some of Manchester’s finest lyrics are emblazoned sporadically amongst the eaves of the bar’s low ceilings (“Step On”) and the furniture’s a plush medley of worn blue wooden lines and soft, leather upholstery. It’s not big, but that’s kind of clever, as the place always feels like it’s got a buzz about it, even if it’s just you and a few mates catching up after a long day. There’s an outside area just outside the entrance that’s just below street level where every Friday The Liquor Store are putting on a BBQ from 4-7pm, and a smaller area just off the main bar where you and a group of friends can have a bit of the venue all to yourselves.
The Clientele and Atmosphere
All week The Liquor Store's open till 3am so it draws in a lot of people who’ve just finished serving drinks all night and want one for themselves, but you’ll also find young professionals and city centre workers taking the edge off a busy day. The nice thing about the Liquor Store is that it really is for everyone, and its location and vibe means that it’s unlikely that you’ll see any trouble or come across any unsavoury types. Our night at The Liquor Store was soundtracked by a load of tunes that we once loved but had forgotten we did – ‘Peaches’ by The President's of the United States of America anyone? Just us? – and, of course, a whole raft of Manchester anthems.
The Food and Drinks
Food at The Liquor Store consists of light bites and nachos, deli boards, bar snacks and soup, and is never going to cost you much more than a fiver. It’s all fairly delicious, but really it’s a complement to the cocktails, which are the real main event. The cocktail list is pretty hefty, divided into different groups dependent on what you fancy. There’s also, naturally, a section with cocktails inspired by Manchester’s music greats – and Tina Turner! We tried more than a few, one of our favourites being the Rum Raisin Royale, with raisin infused Havana Especiale, Fig Liqueur, Orange twist and Prosecco, which brings a whole new meaning to fizz. Danny’s recommendation was the Wild Thing, a twist on a mint Julep with Wild Turkey Honey, Mint, Vanilla Sugar and Pomegranate, that had all the flavour of whiskey with none of the harshness. Elsewhere on the menu there’s a delicious Breakfast Martini that comes with freshly made French toast and marmalade and we were literally finished off by the Dead Man Walking – a £20 Zombie Apocalypse in a glass that’s (usually) for two to share and consists of a shedload of rum with a drip of fruit juice for good measure.
Everyone’s got that favourite place to hang out and relax. For some it’s the local, others the launderette. The Liquor Store might just be a new favourite, somewhere where there’s always space to drink, dance, chat or just chill with fine drinks and food if you fancy. A real city centre treasure, its late opening times and easy atmosphere mean if you’re looking for a great night out in Manchester with none of the stresses of big queues or drunken morons then there really is nowhere better than The Liquor Store. If you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, then book here now.