Last week has been all about music, on Friday it was Post Modern Juke Box at the Albert Hall in Manchester and on Wednesday it was the Puppini Sisters at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. For the Friday Alison had booked us into the Victoria and Albert Hotel, so we could stay over. We got into Manchester about 12:30 pm after braving the snow on the way in and we did a little shopping. For lunch we thought we would try El Gato Negro a new tapas restaurant and bar that has opened on King Street. When we arrived we were informed that the restaurant was full but that there was space in the downstairs bar, where they have a small Charcuterie menu, we took a seat in the window and the waitress brought us the menus and some water flavored with rosemary and coconut. We ordered a bottle of rosé (Centelleo Tempranillo Rosado 2014, VdT Castilla) to drink and Padrón peppers with Halen Môn sea salt, roasted corn kernals, gin-cured salmon with Greek yoghurt and truffled honey on coca bread, pork chicharrón with crackling, apple purée, olive oil and toasted sourdough the waitress also suggested that we try the Bikini (toasted sandwich with jamón ibérico and Manchego). The food was lovely and we were glad we were persuaded to have the Bikini!
We were not going to have a desert, thinking we would go on somewhere for cake and coffee, but the waitress again persuaded us to have a look at the desert menu and we ended up choosing the chocolate fondue, marshmallow and fresh fruit which again was a good choice. The service was a little slow and haphazard, but I think this was due more to the fact that it had only recently opened and things were still “bedding in”. After we had finished we got taking to the manger who told us about future plans and offered to give us a tour, which we took up. The ground floor is the bar area with a small charcuterie area, in the summer the front window wall will open up onto King Street, where there will be tables and chairs. The next floor is the restaurant which has large windows overlooking the street, the kitchen is open with passé bar which I am looking forward to trying. On up to the top floor which is The Black Cat at El Gato Negro cocktail lounge, with its retractable roof! It looks like it will be a great place to sit in the sun during the day or watch the stars at night, weather permitting. There is a lot of bare brickwork Edison lamps and the large windows let in lots of daylight, even on a snowy gray Manchester day! We will definitely be back to try both the restaurant and the cocktail bar.
From there it was off to the hotel, the Victoria and Albert hotel, which was originally a warehouse built in 1844 on the banks of the River Irwell, check in was quick but we did have a little trouble with the key card, the room was a good size, warm, with a very big comfy bed and in the wardrobe there was plenty of proper coat hangers!
After getting washed and changed we made are way to Épernay champagne and cocktail bar, where we met Alison’s daughter Jess for a few drinks before the gig. Alison started off with a Sloely Going Crazy (Botanist gin, sloe berry infused plum sake, Dolin dry vermouth, spiced cranberry syrup, orange juice and orange bitters), Jess had a Candy Shop Sling (Absolut raspberry vodka, Briottet fraise de bois, Vimto liquer, citric acid solution, lemonade garnished with gummy bears, cola bottles and sour cherry sweets) I went for a Cobbled Together (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Grahams port, orgeat Luxardo Sangue Marlacco and ginger ale. Next it was a classic Mojito for Alison, Cinema Highball (buttered popcorn infused Diplomatico Blanco rum, Coca-Cola topped with popcorn) and I had an Inedit Damm. We have been to Épernay a couple of times and it is somewhere we like, it is especially nice in the summer when you can sit on the balcony.
After saying goodbye to Jess we went across the road to the Albert Hall for the gig, this was our first visit to the Albert Hall, which is an old Wesleyan chapel, it is a fantastic space and great for a gig, with its large open space, balcony and the stage backed by the organ pipes and stained glass windows.
The show was excellent and they are a very talented bunch of artists, if you get the chance to see them do go and defiantly take in the videos on their website or YouTube channel. Afterwards we got to hang with them too!
From there it was off to Mr Cooper’s House & Garden one of our favourites, where Alison had a French Martini (vodka, Chambord, and pineapple juice) and I had a gin and tonic (Gin Mare, garnished with olives and rosemary), we also had some of their caramel, chilli and black pepper popcorn, we followed this with a couple of espresso martinis to finish off the evening. Then back to the hotel, where we had some fun getting into the room. The room card did not work and there was a do not disturb sign on the door we had not put there! The night manger was very helpful and we got back into the room and more importantly it was no one in our bed!
The next morning it was up at the crack of 11:00 am and of to 47 King Street for breakfast, which was a smoked Scottish salmon and cream cheese bagel for Alison and a full English for me accompanied by two Engl-ish Breakfast Martinis (Ish gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and orange marmalade)
Wednesday Started off with a meal at Linguine in Sale, we have been before but not for some time. When we got there is was very quite, but it was early on a Wednesday evening. We where told we could sit were we liked were given the menus and informed of the specials. For starters it was Salmone Affumicato (smoked Scottish salmon, with
a pink pepper corn and dill dressing) for Alison and Bruschetta alla Linguine (cherry tomatoes, grilled peppers, goats cheese and mushrooms) for me. Mains were Taglitelle alla Sorrentina (Tagulitelle cooked with chicken, courgettes, pine nuts, chilli and pesto) for Alison, which she said was very tasty and Filetto Rossine (Fillet steak cooked in a red wine sauce, with pate on a toasted crouton, served with seasonal vegetables) for myself the steak was perfectly cooked and tasty, with this we had a bottle of Vero Sangiovese. From there is was over to the Waterside to see the Puppini Sisters, as they let you take drinks int the auditorium we got a prosecco for Alison and a Black Sheep for me, The gig was very good the Puppini’s close harmony was a joy to listen to and there band were very tight. One of the numbers they did was a compilation and there was a prize of a double brandy for the person who guessed how any songs there where in it, we won this, I think mainly due to my big gob! After the gig we stayed to get a CD signed and have a little chat to the girls. Again check out there videos on their website and You Tube. From there it was over to Vida for a cocktail, we went traditional with a Porn Star Martini and a Long Island Iced Tea. The owner came over with a bottle of Limoncello and a couple of shot glasses, he had just become a granddad and so to celebrate poured us a couple, then a couple more, then a top up! After giving him our congratulation we left and where going to go home but somebody suggested the Steamhouse Alison said it was me, I am sure it was her! Once there Alison had a G & T with Monkey Shoulder gin and I had a beer brewed in Chorlton, sorry I can’t remember the name! Both where good, we also got chatting to two girls who had been at the gig. At chucking out time we made our slightly unsteady way home…..
For those of you that are interested we now have an Instagram account #cocktailsfortwouk.