Dry January is over! Here are 12 tipples made in Manchester you should try including gin, rum and real ales
Manchester has both a fine tradition of creating drinks and contemporary independent producers brewing up something special.
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For many people these days the start of a new year is marked by something of a health kick, as they act on those New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym, improve their diet and banish the booze by doing Dry January.
But the month of sobriety is now over and with the hospitality industry still facing a very uncertain future with the cost of living crisis and soaring costs, it’s time to raise a glass to toast your January achievements or simply enjoy a drink after work.
Manchester is an excellent place to say cheers, with a wide range of bars and pubs from traditional watering holes to high-end cocktail bars. And the city is also home to an impressive array of independent producers creating an array of alcoholic drinks to try out. Here are a dozen drinks made right here in Manchester to try out during the rest of 2023.
What better place to start than with a pint which literally bears the city’s name? Marble has carved out a space for itself as one of Manchester’s most successful real ale producers in recent years and this is one of their most popular creations, a traditional bitter which is 4.2% and a deep golden colour.
Decorrum brings the sophistication and glamorous of the 1920s to a glass of rum, taking its inspiration from Art Deco and The Great Gatsby. It’s made with homegrown honey from Manchester Printworks’ very own bees together with lashings of rhubarb and vanilla.
Didsbury-based founder of Decorrum, Lucy Wolfenden, recommends serving it with cola and fresh lime or as a cocktail with fiery ginger beer, fresh mint, lime and white sugar.
It’s hard to pick just one beer from Cloudwater as the cult craft beer brewer’s range is huge and ever-changing. Head along to the online shop on the Cloudwater website or to its taproom not far from Piccadilly on an industrial estate and it would be hard to imagine someone struggling to find something to drink.
The brewery loves the American craft beer scene and produces lots of ales in styles derived from the IPA, which are generally strong (between about 6% and 9%), pale-coloured, hoppy, fruity and hazy.
Another obvious candidate for a list of Manchester tipples, given its name, this gin has been created by The Spirit of Manchester distillery which is run by Jen and Seb Heeley-Wiggins. The business now produces everything from vodka to vermouth and also has its own celebrated bar, Three Little Words.
Taking its cues from the city it calls home, the gin features dandelion and burdock for extra depth of flavour alongside the usual botanicals which make their way into a bottle of gin.
Honeycomb Pale Ale
A popular special created by the Seven Bro7hers brewery, which as you might have guessed was founded and is run by the seven male McAvoy siblings. It’s a 4% pale ale which combines an attractive golden colour with a sweet honey flavour. It’s also suitable for vegans.
You can order Seven Bro7hers beers from the website or head along to a venue like its taphouse in Ancoats opposite Halle St Peter’s.
Four Sis4ers is a spirits distillery created by a quartet of female siblings from the same family as Seven Bro7hers (in fact the two producers have just merged to create one business showcasing the family’s talents).
Their signature gin has landed them a bronze accolade from the World Gin Awards and it also comes in four infused editions, including a Strawberry Gin which has also picked up a prestigious prize at the global awards. Long distillation and a vapour infusion process gives Four Sis4ers’ gins a particular smoothness.
Sureshot, which only started putting its beers out for Mancunians to try in 2022, is another brewery where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get as it concentrates on producing high-quality ales in small batches. The brewery has been founded by James Campbell, who has been involved with a number of successful breweries over the years. While the exact recipes of the beers are ever-changing, Sureshot says it is focusing on hoppy IPAs, clean lagers and pale ales which are easy drinking without skimping on the flavours.
Ancoats Blackberry Gin
The Ancoats Distillery produces gins, ales and rums in a neighbourhood which has undergone a complete transformation from a run-down industrial area to one of Manchester’s hippest neighbourhoods. The story behind the place goes that two friends saw blackberries growing among what was left of a derelict pub, and the idea of making drinks to celebrate the area was born. There are 14 botanicals in this gin, with blackberries leading the way and at the forefront of the flavour profile.
Sonoma is a bestselling pale ale for Manchester real ale brewer Track, which is located in two units at the Piccadilly Trading Estate not far from the railway station and also has a popular taproom.
Sonoma is a refreshing session pale ale at 3.8% alcohol strength with a combination of malts and generous hops giving flavours of citrus, mandarin and grapefruit. It’s also vegan-friendly for people looking for drinks compatible with a plant-based lifestyle.
Salford Rum Dark Spice
The Salford Rum Company takes its inspiration from the rum and spices which were imported into the city’s docks back in their heyday. Its Dark Spice is a blend of Caribbean rums matured in former whisky casks with vanilla, coconut, burnt caramel and cloves. It’s presented in a very striking black bottle which has on the front an historic map of Salford Docks created by a local artist.
Runaway Pale Ale
Microbrewery Runaway has created something of a modern Mancunian classic with this, a 4.7% pale ale. It manages to be crisp, light and refreshing while packing in flavour from American hops and secured Runaway a bronze at the 2022 North West Regional Bottled Beer Competition. Runaway also makes ales such as American browns, stouts and porters and a summery saison.
One Point Six
We’ve rounded off this list with a second example of The Spirit of Manchester distillery to ensure we got a whisky into this dozen-strong selection. Whisky making might be more associated with the highlands and islands of Scotland than with the urban landscapes of Manchester but the team at the distillery are determined to put the drink and the city together. The idea behind One Point Six is to create complex and fruity flavours which develop the longer the drink matures, and their ways of doing this include long fermentation, careful choices of malt and experimentation with different yeasts.