Category: drinks

elixir tonics & treats, manchester

what is it about cocktails that keep us going back?

obviously, the answer for many people is the hidden alcohol content – but there’s something about the artistry of being able to make a great cocktail that really draws me to bars like elixir. and man are they artists.


the welcome is more than you could ask for; it’s a little bit dingy and dark, with brick walls and exposed pipes, perfect when you want to hide away after a long day at work! our bartender quickly came over to talk us through the menu, offering us some flavoured (cucumber) water whilst we made our choices.

i went for the lovelace martini after reading about it on yelp. served with a shot of prosecco topped with lemon sorbet, it was deliciously fruity and a real treat for the eye, especially as it was topped with a sugar lace pattern.

WP_20140115_004the other half drank his tequila based concoction after ordering quite blindly – the majority of alcohols are listed by their brand as opposed to type, so you do have to be a bit of a buff. however, there’s no shame in asking and the guys behind the bar are more than happy to explain and discuss your tastes.

WP_20140115_002unfortunately, we were already heading to lucha libre for dinner, but the food menu sounds – and, judging by some photos i’ve seen, looks – amazing. massive sandwiches and sharing platters all washed down with these stunning cocktails?

watch this space.


arts club, liverpool

walking past the arts club, it was like i hadn’t learnt anything from living in manchester as, for a moment, i thought it was actually an arts centre. little did i know that, inside, i would find one of the best chilli dogs i have ever eaten.

2013-12-07 14.19.432013-12-07 14.19.30nursing somewhat of a hangover from the morning before, i needed something delicious, filling and, most of all, naughty.

the menu offered predominantly burgers, with some larger plates of chilli and fried chicken with biscuits, but i couldn’t quite handle those! instead, we went for a chilli dog each, a portion of mac&cheese (with bacon – always with bacon), and triple fried chips. these were listed in the starters/small plates section, and were so well priced it felt like a complete steal.

2013-12-07 14.45.46the chilli dog in all its glory. we’re talking properly, chunky, pieces-of-steak chilli. with just the right amount of spice. the meat fell apart and the hot dog, surprisingly, held its own. nothing from a tin here!

WP_20131207_002the mac&cheese was simply heavenly, and a must try with some chilli – the flavours just work! it was thick with cheese and chunks of bacon, but somehow not overly heavy, and a really great portion.

it turns out triple fried chips have the most amazing amount of crisp, which is my absolute must when it comes to chips, though i wouldn’t be surprised if the fries were equally as good.

WP_20131207_003this is me, staring lovingly at my food.

don’t be fooled by the exterior, like i almost was. here is the perfect place to read a magazine, tuck into some solid, well made grub, and while away the afternoon.

unsworth’s yard, cartmel

having never been to cartmel, i had no preconceptions as to what would be there – all i knew was that it is the home of sticky toffee pudding and seat of l’enclume.

little did i know, it’s also the home of the absolute gem named unsworth’s yard.

with a brewery, cheese shop and deli, and wine store/coffee shop all sharing one courtyard, this really is the place to be on a sunny day. there aren’t many tables available so, if you manage to get one, keep hold of it.

2013-09-28 15.11.36you can sample the beer from the microbrewery, which is situated at the back of the yard, and right next to the entrance of the methodist church. beautifully thought out.

if you’re not a beer drinker, you can simply press your nose against the glass of the brewery and marvel at how professional it all looks.

2013-09-28 15.11.53before you decide on what to drink, take a look in the cheese shop – where you’re given a sample of pretty much every cheese they sell. you’re bound to come away with something to nibble on. not a cheese fan either? how about one of these doughnuts instead?

2013-09-28 15.10.28now you can get settle in the sun. i had a small bottle of prosecco to sip – it was the perfect size and companion to the afternoon sun.

2013-09-28 15.29.24there was also an array of cocktails on offer, using a variety of spirits and mixers to suit everyone’s taste.

come in the sun, stay for the afternoon. come in the rain, stay anyway.

manchester food and drink festival

it’s virtually impossible to ignore the food and drink festival when it descends onto albert square.

a free gathering of everything food and drink related, it’s the perfect place to indulge and discover new flavours and vendors.

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i work practically next door, so have taken a few trips, though not all of them resulted in photos of my choices – snapping photos at my desk raised a few eyebrows, so i quickly stopped!

my first two trips were lunch related where i visited both the chaophraya and mumma schnitzel stands for pad thai and some morsels of chicken goodness.

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2013-09-27 13.03.48the pad thai was really good, filling and something a little bit different, easy to transport back to the office. peanuts and chilli were optional, but i had both, and for £4 i was happy with my choice! mumma schnitzel is famed for its chicken burgers but, already having a salad prepared, i went for some baby popcorn chicken bites, which were tasty, though they didn’t blow my mind away. i’ve heard only good things about the halloumi, so i think i chose wrong (again)!

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WP_20130929_009last night saw us revisiting due to a bare fridge, and we went straight for the pizza peddlers’ pepperoni. not only was the pizza great, with really meaty pepperoni and topped with rocket and garlic oil, but the guys were really happy to have a chat, asking whether we’d been before etc. northern hospitality at its finest!


2013-09-29 19.09.19we also couldn’t resist the pull of the harvey nichols stall, offering up bubbles & dogs to the discerning. a glass of prosecco goes perfectly with a chilli cheese dog – who’da thunk it?

the stalls are changing soon enough and another wave of delights will be upon us.

sorry waistline.

guerrilla eats, manchester

the guerrilla gorilla strikes again.

last friday, the big blue signal of street food had another outing – this time, we were back in the empty lot across from salford central station, ready to feast on offerings from around the region.

2013-08-30 18.27.38it being a friday night, we were naturally drawn to the bar. a gorilla punch and punk ipa later, we were ready to eat!

first out of the gate were some ball-shaped treats from the amazing mr meatball. we tried both options from the evening – pork/beef & oregano and steak & chorizo – and both were tasty. i preferred the former and it was a good tongue readier for the evening ahead. simple but effective.


next up was firm favourite barnhouse bistro. now, i would literally follow this van around if i could – wherever they are, service is always friendly and food is consistently amazing. after their regular burgers have become a hit, they’ve branched out into chicken. mighty fine chicken.

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bourbon and chilli grilled chicken in a jalapeno cornbread? i was all over it.

the ‘burger’ was the highlight of my night by far. the bread was spicy with great texture, chicken soft but packing a punch, and just the right amount of sauce to cool it down (so you can take another bear-sized bite.)

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although we’ve been to plenty of events with a moocher foods stall in attendance, we’ve somehow never been.

it has to be said that this event was on the quiet side for the gorilla – we did head in early, to ensure our favourites hadn’t sold out, but there was something slightly lacking. this being said, it meant we could get served instantly without any queues. bonus!

2013-08-30 18.48.06we went straight for the wild boar ragu with cheesy polenta from these folks; everything looked delicious, especially the actual set up, but how can you say no to wild boar? the meat was really rich and worked well with the polenta. the only downside was that i felt like going to straight to bed afterwards!

though that may have been the various gorilla punches.

WP_20130830_005our final stop was to arepa! arepa! arepa! as an avid twitter user, i’ve seen the tasty morsels they serve up and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. we even saw them being made!

WP_20130830_009after some deliberation, we went for the shredded beef option. i really enjoyed the meat, though the actual dough was quite unusual – a little bit sweet, with a grainy texture. hopefully next time i’ll be able to get my mouth on some empanadas!

WP_20130830_015until next time you big blue primate.