Bar consultant and creator of Drinks Enthusiast, Dave Marsland, returns with all the latest behind the scenes news from Manchester's bar and cocktail scene. 

Drinks Enthusiast

Dave Marsland is a consultant and drinks guide working with some of the best bars in Manchester.

It's certainly been a busy couple of weeks in the city of Manchester. There have been master classes and shows to attend, rum and whisky to enjoy... and yours truly was in the thick of it all. 

The Manchester Whisky Club 

The Manchester Whisky Club rolled back into The Lass o' Gowrie two Thursdays ago, with founder Andy Duckworth bringing along six expressions to form his ‘Old and Rare’ evening. With names such as Secret Stills, Tormore, Littlemill, Linkwood and Glen Keith, any whisky fanatic would know that these are not to be overlooked. With the club expanding over the next few months, there will be plenty of opportunity to come down and enjoy the delights of whisky in an informal environment. Next month, Stephen Carberry, the brand ambassador of Jameson, will be coming down to talk about all things Irish whisky!

Appleton Rum Trail

Fast-forward to Tuesday, and Appleton rum came into town, offering a trail to a host of VIPs and taking in sights such as Black Dog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter, the new DogBowl on Whitworth Street, The Northern Quarter Restaurant & Bar, and finishing in The Liars Club. We tried out some of the classic rum cocktails including an Appleton Mai Tai using their VX, Grand Marnier, lime and orgeat syrup, a Jamaican Buck and a Dog Rum Punch that came with a heavy dose of Appleton, pomegranate, pineapple and ting. Tots of their 12yr expression were also consumed, as were canapés and ribs that topped off a worthwhile evening. Expect to see more of Appleton in the coming months as they launch their #DiscoverRum evenings.

The Boutique Bar Show and Cocktails in the City 

The Boutique Bar Show is written into each bartender’s calendar as soon as the date is announced. The North’s biggest drinks only trade show played out at the Manchester Town Hall on Wednesday and brought along with it names such as Chase, Sipsmith, Ron Zacapa, -ish, Sloane’s and Konik’s Tail. The Boutique Bar Show, created by Andrew Scutts, gives the drinks industry the chance to ‘try before you buy’ new expressions, up and coming names and to re-acquaint with industry folk. Without this, Manchester would be lagging behind with the trends, and would never be able to host the biggest cocktail master class in the UK – Cocktails in the City.

Cocktails in the City  

Cocktails in the City saw 18 of the best cocktail bars in Manchester come together for a giant cocktail masterclass

The Town Hall was transformed the next day into a room full of pop up bars. The idea is to pitch a brand alongside a venue and come up with a cocktail to showcase to the public on the night. As you can imagine, a fair few signed up including Harvey Nichols and Chase Marmalade, Cloud 23 collaborated with Ron Zacapa, Calle 23 went with Mojo and El Dorado showcased with The Liars Club. I was lucky enough to be a judge on the evening, looking for the best cocktail, bar and personality. The winners haven’t been announced yet, but make sure you check each out for the crème de la crème that Manchester offers!

Brugal Rum Cocktail Competition

Speaking of judging, I helped crown the winner of this week's Brugal rum cocktail competition on Wednesday. Competing teams from Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester had to create a Brugal punch utilising their city's heritage, teamwork and of course cocktail making skills! The ‘Manchester Tarts’ won the competition - aka Susie Wong and Clementine Beach of Epernay, and Charlene Holt and Veronika Bartakovičová of Apotheca. I’m sure if you ask nicely, they’ll recreate their winning delight!

The Manchester Tart


The Manchester Tart was the winning entry created by staff at Epernay and Apotheca

Check out Drinks Enthusiast for bar news, cocktail recipes and more.

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