Taking over the former location of Neon Tiger on Bridge Street, Juicebox's second venue hopes to emulate the success of its Didsbury counterpart. The new bottle shop and natural wine bar in Manchester specialises in all things organic and low-intervention, with the aim to help you discover an upgrade for that standard supermarket sauvignon you usually bring home.
After being greeted warmly by the team here, we settled into our seats and were taken through the menu, with all bartenders poised to make expert recommendations from the wealth of options. Grey concrete-look walls enveloped our cosy corner table, while light poured in from the front of the bar stool-filled venue and a DJ was spinning tunes - definitely laid-back yet date-worthy.
Much like Juicebox Didsbury, the Bridge Street branch has an affordable £5 corkage fee, meaning you can take retail-priced bottles off the shelf to drink in - avoiding some of those pesky mark-ups usually seen at bars. Clever. Wanting to try a range of the drinks on offer though, we decided to go for cocktails, craft beer and wine by the glass. Despite finding the house negronis tempting (a bargain at just a fiver each), a classic margarita (£9) and an old fashioned (£10) won out in the end. My tequila tipple was a great balance between sweet, sour and boozy, whereas my partner's was another great example of a classic.
Food was next on the agenda. Our selection spanned a generous amount of smoky house salumi (£11.50) topped with pickles, the tangy and creamy blue cheese plate (£8.50) - glorious slathered in honey atop its accompanying oat cakes - and smooth, moreish hummus with pane carasau (£5). Washing down this tempting trio was my Pepin Orange (£5 a glass), a blend of six different grapes giving a robust tangerine flavour alongside a slight spicy finish; a combo that made a particularly good pairing with our blue cheese. The drink of choice for him was Juicebox lager, which went down so easily that he shortly ordered another.
Feeling greedy, we also grabbed a couple of sarnies: the house sandwich (£7.50) and weekly special (£7.50) to be precise. Both came with buttermilk chicken thigh as the main filling and a mountain of perfect fries. The former was slapped next to blue cheese, hot sauce, lettuce and dill pickles, while the latter made a nod to Italy with pesto and parmesan. Thanks to tender, juicy chicken and fluffy focaccia, these got a massive thumbs up from us - especially when you consider the large portion sizes. Sandwiches are available from 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and in even better news, you can nab any flavour alongside a glass of house wine for just £10. The bargains just keep on coming.
While my other half drank that second lager with our food, I'd gone for the Herrigola Rioja (£5 a glass). Fewer tannins than you usually get from a Rioja and no oak made this wine feel youthful, fruity and fresh; the perfect red for end of summer sipping to round off our September visit.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Juicebox might just be Manchester's most affordable wine bar - and that's before you even consider the fact they specialise in natural, organic and low-intervention, which often come with a higher price but here start at just a fiver per glass. The £5 corkage fee to drink bottles from the shop is an absolute steal too. Plus, with those generously sized chicken sarnies and tasty small plates to top it all off? There's no avenue these guys haven't thought of to ensure you have the best (and most pocket-friendly) experience. A winner all round.
💰 The damage: Around £75 for six drinks, two sandwiches with fries and three small plates.
📍 The location: 62 Bridge Street, M3 3BW.
👌 Perfect for: Wine lovers who'd rather not need to raid their bank accounts.
⭐ Need to know: Small plates are 3 for £15 between 12 and 5pm all week.