Manchester Tourist

Be a tourist in your own city!


It’s so easy not to notice what’s around you and to take what’s on your doorstep for granted. But pick up some of Manchester’s iconic buildings and put the Town Hall, Central Library, The Palace Hotel or Manchester Central into another city abroad, and we’d all be snapping away and raving about how wonderful it was.


Manchester Town Hall


My point is, that because we’re not on holiday we just forget to look around us.

Having spoken to lots of visitors to our city, the general conscensus seems to be that Manchester is “much better than we expected!” It makes me wonder just what they were expecting – but it’s nice for people to be pleasantly surprised!

Did you know that Manchester has it’s very own sightseeing bus tour with live tour guide commentary? Click here to read all about it.


Manchester Tour Bus


Over an 18 mile circuit it covers these famous Manchester and Salford landmarks:

  • Manchester Town Hall
  • Manchester United FC
  • Salford Quays
  • Imperial War Museum
  • First Passenger Railway Station
  • Trafford Park
  • John Rylands Library
  • Manchester City FC
  • Lowry Arts Centre


It’s a brilliant way to get around if you’ve only got limited time in our city – but it got me thinking about what I’d put on my own itinerary of favourite Manchester spots. Our secret Manchester that the tourists (in between Old Trafford and Primark) don’t usually get to see.


Manchester sign post


Favourite parts of Manchester


We ran a competition to find out which were your favourite parts of Manchester, to see if we could unearth some hidden gems! Here are some your top spots:


“Shambles Square love the look of the old and new combined so closely.”

“China Town – such a vibrant atmosphere.”

“Castlefield – outside Dukes 92 by the water on a sunny afternoon.”

“The Northern Quarter – full of street art, retro shops, funky cafés and cool bars.”

“The Gay Village and Canal Street.”

“Afternoon tea at The Raddison Edwardian.”

“Manchester Cathedral.”

“Manchester Art Gallery,  Manchester Museum and The Whitworth Art Gallery – we’re spoiled for choice.”

“Love the old Printworks building and all the restaurants and cinema.”

“Heaton Park especially to visit the alpacas.”

“The Deaf Institute – it’s a great place for a bite to eat and a drink before watching a gig!”

“The Hidden Gem Church (St Marys) dating back to 1794 – a true gem hidden away on Mulberry Street.”

“The Museum of Science and Industry – it’s the very heart of Manchester.”

“Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road.”

“The Curry Mile in Rusholme during Diwali is amazing.”

“Manchester’s underground tunnel network – it’s super spooky”

“The site of the Old Hacienda – for old times sake!”


I’d add the outdoor cinema in Spinningfields, Ginger’s Ice Cream Parlour in Afflecks Palace, The Royal Exchange, St Peter’s Church in Ancoats and the new big wheel in Piccadilly Gardens.


Be a tourist in your own city


It’s really good fun to be a tourist in your own city. Pretend you’re on holiday and head out with a camera to capture everything that catches your eye – from the grand to the smallest detail.

Even better, turn it into a minibreak! There are lots of Manchester Hotels – take advantage of their last minute deals, book a baby sitter (worst case scenario you won’t have far to get back in an emergency), throw in dinner and a show and save yourself a late night cab fare.



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples















Manchester Food & Drink Festival

We look at the nominees for this year’s awards




It’s the Manchester Food & Drink Festival at the end of the month (26th September – 7th October 2013).

We asked our restaurant blogger Elaine to have a look at the nominees for the Food & Drink Awards, tell us who she’d vote for and see if there’s anyone she felt had been missed off the list.


Over to you Elaine ……



I see from my telly box that another vote hungry reality show has started again. Myself I prefer to put my voting energies into something a little more worthwhile (and not requiring the use of a premium rate phone call)

So the recent announcement of the shortlist for the Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards has naturally been cause for discussion and debate amongst my friends and work colleagues.

We all hold our favourite haunts dear and even if we have yet to experience some of the establishments that have made it we have an opinion on what we think they might be like.


Room Restaurant


There can be no doubting the popularity of the festival itself, last years was a record breaker. It is estimated that it brought in a cool £2.8 million spending boost to this fair city of ours through the festival village itself and in the transport and hotel rooms of foodies from near and far.

Last year all 70 businesses shortlisted for an award reported an increase in customers and revenue once the voting was opened (so really everyone is a winner in their own right).


Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards


I know some who are sceptical about how the shortlist comes about but although businesses can self nominate there is still a panel of judges who decide the final lists and it is their mystery visit scores as well as our own votes that decide the overall winners.

So who would get your vote? I have given mine some thought, and although I have not been to all the choices available I have still chosen who I prefer for each category – some based on where I would most like to go.


Restaurant of the year



  • 63 Degrees, City Centre
  • Yuzu, City Centre
  • Michael Caines Restaurant, Abode Hotel, City Centre
  • Cicchetti, City Centre
  • Damson, MediaCityUK, Salford
  • The French at The Midland, City Centre

I’m going for 63 Degrees for this one. The menu had appealed greatly to me and I finally went for dinner before Christmas with the ladies from Manchester WI. The food was more than lovely and I have to admire a restaurant that can manage a large table without delays, mistakes or glares from neglected other diners.


Newcomer of the year



  • Luck Lust Liquor & Burn, City Centre
  • Solita, City Centre
  • The Albert Chop House, City Centre
  • Damson, MediaCityUK, Salford
  • Artisan, City Centre
  • The French at The Midland, City Centre


Fish dish


I have been to a couple of the places in this category and I am giving my vote to Albert Square Chop House. I am a fan of its older brothers Sam and Thomas and enjoyed it’s more refined version of classical British fayre.


Pub of the year



  • Marble Arch, City Centre
  • Station Buffet Bar, Stalybridge
  • The Magnet, Stockport
  • The Eagle Inn, Salford
  • The Baum, Rochdale
  • The Oasthouse, Spinningfields, City Centre


The Oast House Manchester


I am a fan of The Oast House it has to be said. Post work pints in the afternoon (it’s just around the corner) and plenty of seats indoors and out.

I like the beer options and the fact that we can take my nephew (he’s four) without worrying we will disturb other patrons. It has a good family feel and a wide range of customers.


Food pub of the year



  • Hearth of the Ram, Ramsbottom
  • The Wharf, City Centre
  • The Parlour, Chorlton
  • The Red Lion, High Lane, Stockport
  • Mark Addy, Salford
  • The Albert Chop House, City Centre

I know who I would like to see on this shortlist but more on that later. Out of the list I would go for Albert Chop House again.


Bar of the year



  • Revolucion de Cuba, City Centre
  • Liquorice, City Centre
  • Australasia, City Centre
  • Kosmonaut, City Centre
  • Gorilla, City Centre
  • Jackalope, Chorlton


Liquorice Bar Manchester


This is an easy choice for me, it has to be Liquorice. A firm favourite of mine and the other half. Great cocktails, great music and staff who make a genuine effort to get to know their customers.


Chef of the year



  • Eric Moreau, 63 Degrees, City Centre
  • Robert Cox, Michael Caines Restaurant, ABode Hotel, City Centre
  • Mike Jennings, Grenache, Walkden, Worsley
  • Sam Everett, Harvey Nichols, City Centre
  • Mary-Ellen McTague, Aumbry, Prestwich
  • Adam Reid, The French, City Centre

I think for the repeated success that Grenache has had I would go for Mike Jennings.

I lived in Walkden until twelve months ago and this restaurant is one of a kind for the area, close enough to Worsley but by no means an easy commute from the city centre, plenty of customers must be making the effort to visit and that deserves recognition.


Cheap Eats of the year



  • Home Sweet Home, City Centre
  • San Juan, Chorlton
  • Trove, Levenshulme
  • Lilys, Ashton
  • Luck Lust Liquor & Burn, City Centre
  • Salvi’s, City Centre

Another easy choice in Salvi’s, a visit for 4Manchester Women that produced a big thumbs up for being all round, fresh, delicious and affordable whilst still feeling a little bit special.


Mozarella sharing plate


Coffee Bar / Tea Shop of the year



  • Coffee Fix, Gatley
  • Caffeine and Co, City Centre
  • Richmond Tea Rooms, City Centre
  • Macaroon, Rochdale
  • Home Sweet Home, City Centre
  • Takk, City Centre

I’m going Home Sweet Home, the cakes are a sight to behold and they do a mean Eggs Benedict (a personal favourite).


Family Friendly venue and Food & Drink Retailer


There are two further categories which ask for your own nominations, Family Friendly Venue and Food & Drink Retailer.

I would have to nominate Hanging Ditch for retailer; it is a shop I have used numerous times in the last few years. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and the wines available cover most budgets. It’s a must visit if you haven’t called in yet.


wine bin ends



The ones that missed out


So who do I think is missing?

Personally I would like to see The Angel in the mix for Food Pub. It started with a visit for 4Manchester Women but we are now regulars and the food is fantastic.

I think a chef that deserves a nomination is Ernst van Zyl who transformed the food at Etrop Grange and would get my vote for the bespoke menu he created for my husband’s birthday dinner alone.


The Angel Pub restaurant Manchester


Supper Clubs


I think next year it would be nice to see an extra category for supper clubs. This is a growing and popular scene in Manchester producing some brilliant menu’s each month. Maybe a little difficult to shortlist but a great addition to the voter nomination section.

So that’s my opinion on were my votes are heading, how about you? Voting is open now until 1st October on the Food & Drink festival website, make sure you go on and have your say.


Elaine x


Photographs: MFDF, Jenny McAvoy, Albert Square Chop House, The Oast House, The Angel

This is not a sponsored blog post.


Our restaurant reviews:

Room Restaurant – City Centre

Didsbury Lounge – Didsbury

Salvis – Exchange Square, Manchester City Centre

The Parlour – Beech Road, Chorlton

Linen – Manchester 235

The Angel – Northern Quarter

Stock Restaurant – Manchester City Centre

The Oxnoble – Potato Wharf

Etrop Grange – Manchester Airport

Thomas Restaurant – Northern Quarter

Saffran – Trafford Centre

The Blue Pig – Northern Quarter

Yang Sing – China Town









Cocktails at River Bar, The Lowry

 A little bit of luxury overlooking the river


Keeley Watts


This week our #MCRCocktailGirl Keeley has taken refuge in The River Bar at The Lowry Hotel for a spot of cocktail therapy.

As usual she’s issued them with our challenge  – to create a cocktail which embodies Manchester woman in a glass.

It’s that simple!


Over to you Keeley ……

Address: The River Bar at The Lowry, 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, City Centre, M3 5LH
Visited: 6.00pm Wednesday 17th July 2013


Bar description and ambiance


The River Bar at the Lowry hotel is every bit as luxurious as you would expect. Light and airy with lots of seating space, it really excels with a beautiful terrace.

Luckily for us on the day of our visit, the sun was shining over the river, making it the perfect place to sit and admire the view with a good drink.


Lowry Hotel


Lowry Hotel


The bar is a quiet, chilled out and a fabulous haven to let the stress of your day melt away. You would be forgiven for thinking this is just a bar that guests from the hotel can enjoy, but this is far from the truth.

You’ll be welcomed with a warm smile and a decent cocktail from the impressive menu.





Tom has worked in hotel bars for a long time including Great John Street and the Palace Hotel.

He has a passion for cocktails and, being self-taught, loves to play with flavours to see what works. So much so that he designed his first cocktail menu whilst working in a hotel bar – he only brought out when it was his shift!


Tom Lowry Hotel


He’s now managed to get his hands on the menu at River Bar and designed a menu fit for the elite clientele the bar entertains on a regular basis, as well as you or I.

Tom loves traditional British flavours and products with a twist. He is keen to expand the bar’s collection of British wines and beers as well as the already expanding spirit collection.





The cocktail menu plays on traditional British flavours, including a twist on the mojito to include raspberry and apricot.

Another British twist on a classic is the cucumber Collins using Hendricks gin which is infused with cucumber and rose.


Signature drink


Tom’s signature drink and a popular one from the summer menu is the passionfruit and lychee margarita.

Recipe: Fresh limes are muddled with blanco tequila before adding passion fruit puree, sugar syrup and lychee liquor.

This drink is beautifully balanced with a lovely freshness without being overly sweet – the sugar syrup just adding to the flavour rather than enhancing it too much.


Making a cocktail





Manchester Women in a glass cocktail challenge


Tom’s spin on the Manchester woman in a glass cocktail has been ready for some time. So much so that it is now available on their summer menu!

This watermelon martini is vibrant, colourful and refreshing; just like a Manchester woman! Two wedges of watermelon are muddled with Ish gin (Brit-Ish, get it?) and Cointreau giving a rich and luxurious feel to the drink.

It’s then shaken with lemon, sugar syrup and cranberry juice before serving with a wedge of watermelon.




The rich and luxurious feel of this cocktail depicts Manchester women to Tom with an irresistible cheekiness – it’s one to stand out from the crowd. The watermelon gives this cocktail a summery freshness with a wonderful edge provided by the Cointreau.

It’s one that shouldn’t work but really does… pop in and ask Tom to mix you one, you won’t be disappointed.


alstaples's River Bar at The Lowry album on Photobucket



The River Bar at The Lowry, 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, City Centre, M3 5LH

Tel: 0161 827 4000



Keeley x  (#MCRCocktailGirl)


Photographs: Mike Warren, Gareth Davies

Our cocktail reviews are not sponsored

Keeley writes her own personal blog – Phat Cupcake


Other cocktail bar reviews

Cocktails at The Bubble Room – Alderley Edge

Cocktails at Room – King Street, Manchester City Centre

Cocktails at The Whim Wham Cafe – Whitworth Arches, Manchester City Centre

Cocktails at Liquorice – off King Street, Manchester City Centre

Cocktails in the City reviewed

Cocktails at Lock 91 – Deansgate Locks, City Centre

Cocktails at Neighbourhood – Spinningfilds

Cocktails at Southern Eleven – Spinningfields

Cocktails at The Violet Hour – West Didsbury

Cocktails at Beluga – Bramhall








Summer in Spinningfields

Whats on – things are popping up all over!


If you’ve not been down to Spinningfields lately – you’re in for a big surprise!

The home of all things ‘pop-up’ has been busy. We were invited to the launch of the Aperol Spritz marquee and so sent regular blogger Charlie along with her camera to catch the summer spirit of Spinningfields.




Long Bar


With it’s modern metal exoskeleton and soundtrack of Balearic and soulful grooves – this bar is a partnership with Living Ventures (Oast House, Australasia and Alchemist). Click here for more information.


The Long Bar


The Long Bar


IN Bloom


This is quite literally a living bar! With it’s nice covering of ivy it’s a fusion of nature and urban jungle. IN Bloom is run by Fluid Bars and boasts herbs grown on site for the cocktails and locally sourced ales!

You’ll see from the photos that Charlie is busy yarnbombing IN Bloom – covering it with small knitted flowers!

Click here for more information on IN Bloom.


IN Bloom


Yarn Bombed flower



Aperol Spritz


For a very short period  (24th June – 7th July) there’s also a massive Wimbledon themed Aperol Spritz marquee.

Aperol Spritz – all the rage on the continent – 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part Soda and lots of ice! Just the ticket!











The big screen is back in action – but this time with a difference. At the beginning of the week Spinningfields announces two films – you vote for your favourite via Facebook and Twitter, then come Thursday the winner is shown on the big screen.

The big screen has been focused on Wimbledon for the last couple of weeks, but next week it should be back in action. And with fantastic weather promised, what could be better! For more information click here.




Summer Sessions – this summer, Spinningfields and The Oast House have extended their musical offering to the SpinFest stage with its Summer Sessions every other Wednesday from 7pm.

  • 17th July – Indie Sessions Featuring The Ragamuffins
  • 31st July – SKA Sessions Featuring Baked A LA SKA


Comedy Sessions – This summer The Courtyard will host The Comedy Club. Every other Wednesday from 7pm.

  • 10th July – Courtyard Comedy Club, hosted by Jonathan Mayor
  • 24th July – Bogan Bingo


American Vintage (28th July) is a free day time music festival celebrating city life! With an eye watering programme of acts from rock n roll, swing and soul, it sounds like a great way to spend the day.


So if you haven’t been down to Spinningfields recently – pop down and help yourself to a slice of the action!


alstaples's Spinningfields album on Photobucket



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Charlie Hooson-Sykes

This is not a sponsored blog post.









Celebrating World Gin Day 2013

A whole day (15th June) dedicated to gin – there’s an idea!


I’ve had some messy moments when it comes to gin! However, with a whole day dedicated to gin the world over, who am I to complain?

We were on the case immediately (and on the table later!) with some wonderful gin cocktail recipes and a look at what’s happening in Manchester for World Gin Day.

Gin has had a bit of a hard time in the past and so I, for one, am pleased to give it a good 24 hours of celebration on 15th June 2013.

An anonymous poem from the 1940s, which gave it the nickname ‘mother’s ruin’, demonstrates some of the blame that was put on gin for the country’s social problems:



The principal sin

Of Gin


Among others

Ruining mothers


More recently though, gin has become the spirit of choice for the discerning mixers and blenders. Whether it’s with tonic or in a Martini, Sling or Fizz, gin is a crisp, versatile and unique spirit. We have been having a taste (all in the name of research) of some of our favourite classic gin cocktails and have posted the recipes below, so you can raise a glass on 15th June to a delicious, historical and very British spirit.


World gin day montage


Gin Fizz

A reason to celebrate in itself! Contains approx.1.5 units of alcohol.



15ml gin


Lemon rind, peeled, to garnish


Chill a Champagne flute, add gin and top with Champagne. Garnish glasses with the lemon rind.


Old Fashioned Gin

As classic as classic can be! Contains approx. 1.9 units of alcohol.


50 ml gin

10ml elderflower cordial

Cubed ice

Fresh apple juice


Fill a small glass with cubed ice and add the gin and elderflower cordial. Top with apple juice, stir and serve.


The Bramble

Simple, delicious and perfect for summer! Contains approx. 1.6 units of alcohol.


35ml gin

20ml lemon juice

1 tsp sugar syrup

15ml blackberry liqueur

Slice of lemon and blackberry to garnish


Add all the ingredients to a tumbler of crushed ice and garnish.


Hendricks Gin bar display World Gin Day 9th June 2012


Bloody Mary Recipe



What’s happening for World Gin Day in Manchester


Manchester’s very own gin salon The Whim Wham Cafe will be launching Lord Of The Gins at midnight – it will be available till 00hrs at the end of World Gin Day. There will also be vintage cocktails re-invented!


G&Teatime will be holding tutored tastings at The Park Inn by Radisson Manchester.

The Metropolitan and The Violet Hour in Didsbury will be having gin specials along with a #ginoff.

You could also check out @didsburyginclub #didsburyginclub@MancGinClub and Gin Fuelled Bluestocking.


Where will you be celebrating?


Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: World Gin Day’s Facebook page

This is not a sponsored blog post.













Discovering rum – Appleton Estate

A slice of Jamaica from a very special Master Blender


When I was invited to spend the evening ‘discovering rum’ ……  I was a little blasé. Surely I did that on my 19th birthday when Bacardi and I became the best of friends!

This #DiscoverRum tour however, organised by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum was a very different kettle of fish!


Discover Rum Tour Manchester


The aim of the evening was to introduce us to their estate distilled and hand blended rums which they’ve been producing in Jamaica since the 18th Century.

It also showcased a range of Appleton based cocktails in venues which boast Appleton’s as their house rum – TNQ, Black Dog Ballroom Northern Quarter, Dog Bowl and The Liars Club.

As someone who knows a little bit about a lot of things, but not very much about anything in particular, I asked just what makes Appleton Rum so special – to which the reply was:

“Everything happens in the same place – the Nassau Valley. The growing, the distilling, the blending – it’s Jamaica through and through, from grass to glass!”


Appleton Rum


Whether you go for (please note – these are not my descriptions – I’m not that good!):

  • Light, sweet, honey satin caramel tones of the v/x
  • Rich holiday spice notes, with orange and vanilla highlights of the Reserve 8 year old
  • Mature scent of walnut and nutmeg, and subtle coffee and coca notes, with a bittersweet and luscious finish of the 12 year old
  • Carefully aged 21 year old with a floral baked nuttiness and strong molasses oak finish

What you do get with Appleton Estate Rums is the something that has been lovingly blended by Joy Spence – the first female Master Blender in the Spirits Industry.

Joy recently received an honorary doctorate from The University of West Indies, to add to the one she received from Loughborough University last year, where she graduated with a Masters Degree in Analytical Chemistry in 1978 (read more about Joy here).


Joy Spence


Joy – if you ever read this – you’ve created a thing of beauty! Thank you!


So as we turned Manchester green, gold and black – with the help of a few cocktails, the view from the taxi between venues took on an altogether different character!

Deansgate never looked so good!


Jamaica Road


If you want to try a little bit of Jamaica, visit the following venues where Appleton Estate is the house rum:

The Liars Club - Tiki Dive Bar and Caribbean Rum Shop voted Best Bar in the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards 2012 and Best Late Night Speakeasy by Manchester Confidential in 2012 @TheLiarsClubMCR


Jamaican Mule


Dog Bowl – New York style venue features the unique personality of the original Northern Quarter hang out with even more fun in the form of five full size lanes of ten-pin bowling, accompanied by Black Dog Ballroom’s popular bar and diner @BlackDogBowl


Mai Tai


BDB NQ – The original Black Dog Ballroom is a New York inspired speakeasy, diner and pool room situated in the Northern Quarter underneath Affleck’s Palace.  Since opening the bar has won awards including Best Bar of 2010 by the Manchester Evening News’ CityLife and Best Bar of 2011 by Manchester Confidential and is the perfect venue for laid back brunches, impromptu cocktail hours and bustling late night disco rendezvous @BlackDogNQ


Pear Mule


BDB NWS – the baby sister of the Black Dog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter, is located on New Wakefield Street in the burgeoning Oxford Road Corner area of the city. The three floor New York Style speakeasy, diner, pool room, roof terrace, BBQ and basement night club, Underdog, also boasts a private members’ Ballroom with additional pool table and karaoke booth.   @BlackDogNWS

TNQ – prides itself upon fine dining in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, using the finest ingredients the North West and the British Isles has to offer @TNQRestaurant


#DiscoverRum for yourself!


Join the Appleton Estate #DiscoverRum Club on Facebook, to win unique rum experiences throughout the year. Currently this includes a Father’s Day pack which includes:

  • Bottle of Appleton Estate V/X Rum
  • Special edition Appleton Estate rum Jamaican Buck copper cup
  • Box of Charbonnet et Walker Appleton Estate truffles
  • Appleton Estate wooden USB
  • Appleton Estate Rum Cocktail book.

The closing date for entries is Sunday 9th June 2013.

As a postscript – the #DiscoverRum Appleton Estate tour had a very unusual effect on me. I actually ran for a tram across St Peter’s Square at the end of the night – and caught it! Usain Bolt eat your heart out. I’m going to go ‘rumming’ more frequently in future!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Appleton Estate, Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.








Cocktails in the City

An evening of cocktail making and drinks enlightenment returns to Manchester


Check out our competition to win tickets at the bottom of this blog ……. and did I mention we’re on the judging panel!


cocktails in the city logo

Manchester Town Hall, 6pm – 10.30pm, 2nd May 2013



Manchester’s cocktail scene is vibrant to say the least (and that’s before we’ve even had a drink). So what better way to celebrate our city’s army of dedicated mixologists, than by having a massive cocktail masterclass in the Great Hall in Manchester Town Hall?

I’m told that the Great Hall looks at it’s best if you lie down and stare at the ceiling ……. which is lucky as I’ll probably be seeing a lot of it after I’ve worked my way around the cocktail buffet!


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City


Gimme the facts!


With 18 pop up bars bought to you by Manchester’s finest bars and bartenders, 600 cocktail enthusiasts and over 1,500 cocktails, this year Cocktails in the City promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Food: The hippest operators in town Almost Famous

Music:  Enjoy the soulful sounds of Manchester’s finest Crazy P and Neil Diablo of El Diablos Social Club who will both be playing on the decks.

The Bars:  There are some new faces this year, including Neighbourhood and The Liquor Store whilst The Lord Mayor’s Parlour is turning into a rum lover’s Tiki Paradise courtesy of The Liars Club, Keko Moku and Hula.

You can also expect to see:

  • Mojo Bar
  • Sandinista
  • Apotheca
  • Socio Rehab
  • Harvey Nichols
  • Epernay Champagne Bar
  • The Violet Hour
  • Cloud 23
  • With more to be revealed!


Become an Expert:  The Liquorists (Manchester drinks consultancy) will be entertaining and educating – offering Enthusiast and Connoisseur ticket holders the chance to sip, savour and learn more about their favourite spirits with six different brands included at each tasting.

All visitors will be able to enjoy practical cocktail demonstrations on the main stage within the great hall whilst Cocktails in the City hosts will be on the floor entertaining and educating – I’m told ‘in unique and interesting ways’! Well there’s something to look forward to!

Last year 480 visitors made and enjoyed over 1,200 cocktails.


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City



This year visitors can choose from a range of tickets


  • The Taster: £15 including entrance, two cocktails, main stage demonstrations, cocktail booklet.
  • The Enthusiast: £25 includes three cocktails, A Liquorists Tutored Tasting Session, main stage demonstrations and cocktail booklet.
  • The Connoisseur: £45 includes champagne cocktail reception, food from Almost Famous, three cocktails, A Liquorists tutored tasting session.


With so many pop up bars, it’s a great way to find out the who, where, what, why and how of all things cocktail in Manchester.


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City


The best in show


Last year the bars competed for:

  • The best Overall winner (Won by Keko Moku & El Dorado Rum)
  • Personality of the show (Won by Johnboy Socio Rehab)
  • Cocktail of the show (Won by Gin Mare Strawberry Pepper Mule)
  • Stand of the show (Won by The Liars Club).


The judges


This year with new bars and brands involved the competition will be hotter than ever. And guess what! Our very own #MCRCocktailGirl and guest blogger Keeley Watts, will be joining the judging panel to represent 4Manchester Women.

She’ll be sitting alongside Viva Magazine, The Manchester Evening News and Drinks Enthusiast. Let’s hope she behaves herself!


Follow Cocktails In The City


To celebrate Manchester’s world beating cocktail scene the #MCRHEARTSCOCKTAILS hash tag is once again launched to raise awareness of the bustling Manchester bar scene. You can follow Cocktails in the City news on twitter (@Cocktailsinthec) and on Facebook.


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City


Competition Time – win a pair of tickets


We want to know what you’d call your cocktail bar!

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

We’ve got a fantastic competition prize as an incentive, and one lucky reader who leaves a comment will be chosen at random as the winner.

So don’t be shy – Tom Cruise’s in the film Cocktail was Cocktails & Dreams. What would you call yours?


Manchester Town Hall Peter Sheppard — at Cocktails In The City


The Prize


We have one pair of Taster tickets to give away to Cocktails in the City (6pm – 10.30pm, 2nd May 2013).

Please note that entrants must be over 18 years.


Good luck!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Peter Sheppard – Cocktails in the City

This is not a sponsored blog post


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Thursday 25th April 2013.


The winners will be the first names selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Thursday 25th April 2013. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (6 months)


Kids say the funniest things – win a family ticket to LegoLand  (13th October 2012). Winner Natalie Holland.

Not doing Halloween – win a Baba+Boo bib (19th October 2012). Winner Karine Jade.

Tell us how you’ve supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month – win Bags of Style handbag (31st October 2012). Winner Vicky Robinson. 2nd Prize Kerry Kilmister

Manchester Tourist – win a mini break at The Oxnoble (1st November 2012). Winner Jo Healy.

Tell us about your first bike – win free bike hire and a meal (8th November 2012). Winner Catherine Thomas

What’s on the top of yours – win John Lewis goodies (13th November 2012). Winner Gerri Tennant, 2nd Prize Lemknip Pink, 3rd Prize Fran Morgan.

What’s your favourite piece of H&D Diamonds jewellery? (17th November 2012). Winner Elaine Stokes.

What’s on your children’s Christmas list – win John Lewis toys. Winner Sarah Foran. 2nd Prize Herb Appleby.

Unforgettable gift experiences – win a case of wine from Purple Gifts & Experiences (16th December 2012). Winner Becky Downey.

Vintage Beauty Parlour – win a calendar, £10 gift voucher and nail varnish (17th December 2012). Winner Eleanor Powell.

Proposal stories – win a jewellery cleaning kit from H&D Diamonds (7th January 2013). Winner Claire Davey.

Favourite childhood item of clothing – win nappy and t-shirt set from Baba+Boo (22nd January 2013). Winner Caroline James.

Opera stories – win tickets to the Opera (Carmen & Tosca) at The Manchester Opera House (20th February 2013). Winner Sue Robinson, 2nd Prize Liz Ferguson.

Favourite wine – win tickets to see The Three Wine Men (10th March 2013). Winners Petra Hora, Julie Fisher, Ruth Houlihan.


















Dog Bowl launch

Retro, family friendly bowling alley underneath the arches


My memories of going bowling are of massive tacky warehouses with no soul, lanes which seemed to stretch on forever, expensive junk food, fizzy pop in a massive paper cup with a straw, sweaty bowling shoes, a sticky carpet, snogging teenagers – and that I was a bit rubbish at bowling.

I can’t have been bowling for years!

But now it seems that in Manchester, bowling is having a resurgence. Dog Bowl is the second retro style bowling experience to open this year. Slipping on some two tone, soft soled bowling shoes and taking the the lanes is now all the rage for those who fancy a bit of stylish fun.


Dog Bowl Manchester


Check out their funky Bowling after Dark promotional video with two teams of bowlers and some glow in the dark bowling balls as they head out across Manchester city centre in the dead of night!




Dog Bowl on Whitworth Street is the latest venture by Black Dog Ballroom – who now boast The Liars Club, Black Dog Ballroom and Underdog on New Wakefield Street as well as the original venue underneath Afflecks Palace as their current kennels.

Dog Bowl opens on 2nd April – we were lucky enough to be invited along to the family friendly preview event just a few days before it’s opening.


dog bowl manchester


Manchester skyline painting


To test the joint to the max, I took along my toughest expert reviewers – Kirsty (5 years) and Laura (3 years). Along with their parents I knew we’d get an honest appraisal of this new family friendly venue.

So let’s go back to my original bowling alley whinge list and see how it fares:

Dog Bowl is a beautiful venue with loads of character


With it’s curved roof, underneath a railway arch, it’s really atmospheric. With five full sized, ten pin bowling lanes, it’s big enough to give you the space that you need, but small enough to feel intimate. And it’s anything but tacky. There’s polished wood, booths, shine and retro touches that make you feel like you’re having a special treat.


dog bowl manchester


No sweaty bowling shoes here!


 I know that it’s a new venue, but the shoes were gorgeous and in a range of sizes, for both grown up and little feet. I was quite tempted to leave my old shoes behind and forgetfully stroll out of the door with my new pair of three tones! But obviously stealing is wrong and gets you sent straight to hell, so I thought better of it.


Bowling shoes


Great food at reasonable prices with a comprehensive drinks menu


The Tex-Mex inspired menu was not only spot on – but locally sourced. With burgers, tacos, fajitas, quesedillas, sandwiches, salads, steak and wings we were spoilt for choice. There is also a super Kids Menu either priced separately or 3 courses and a soft drink for £6.50.

Dog Bowl has a beautiful bar and a great cocktail menu. Plus a range of beers (including some American brands such as Samuel Adams and Brooklyn), wine and soft drinks.

Us grown ups chose Southern Fried Dill Pickles and Pork Crackling with Apple Sauce to start, and a Pulled Pork Sandwich, Sloppy Joe Sandwich and a DB Burger which was so big it needed support! All washed down with a selection of brews.


Dog Bowl Manchester

While Kirsty and Laura enjoyed their tortilla pizza’s and two scoops each of strawberry ice cream!


Turns out I’m rather good at bowling


With five of us, we ended up bowling for around an hour. And once the three year old managed to get a strike (albeit with the aid of lane guards which popped up automatically when it was her turn and a ramp for her to roll her ball down), the gloves were off!


Bog Bowl Manchester Kids


The wooden lanes are absolutely beautiful to bowl on, and having taken on a toddler, I even managed to beat Competitive Dad and finished as the glorious victor (see below - AS at the top of the board for proof).


Dog Bowl Manchester



Thoroughly family friendly


Whether you’re bringing the kids or leaving them behind, you’re bound to have a good time. Dog Bowl is a safe, clean and just lovely environment with lane guards, smaller bowling bowls, ramps and children’s shoes (the 3 year old kept her own shoes on).




The children’s menu went down a treat and although I didn’t see any – I’m told that there are high chairs. Our only complaint was the lack of baby changing facilities, bins (somewhere to put a dirty nappy!) and colouring in sheets to keep the kids happy while waiting for the food to arrive. But we fed that back and hopefully it will soon be sorted.

And what was the verdict of our junior reviewers?


Fantastic Dog Bowl


Fantastic Dog Bowl


Prices per person, per game including bowling shoes

£6 – off peak (until 6pm, Monday to Friday)
£8 – peak (from 6pm Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday)
£5 – children and students with NUS card

Dog Bowl is open till 3am week nights, 4am weekends.

For further information visit:


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor & Super Bowl!)


Photographs: Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.








North West Spring Wine Festival

Which I attended purely for research purposes!


One of the things I love most about editing 4Manchester Women, is that it makes me get off my bum and go out and do things. This weekend it was The North West Spring Wine Festival in St Peter’s Church, Ancoats.

However, it’s not just the doing – it’s exploring parts of Manchester that I never knew were there. Who would have thought, that tucked away in Ancoats, just a short walk from the Northern Quarter, would be this beautiful little church? PS. I didn’t take this photo – the sky wasn’t that blue, but it was trying!


St Peters Church Ancoats


And who would have thought that there would be a large tit painted on the side of a random building en route?!


Blue tit mural on side of building


But enough of that – what about the wine? Well it was very nice – thank you very much!

I’m not much of a wine buff – I went on a few winery trips when I went travelling in Australia, New Zealand and Canada – but I wouldn’t say I was an expert. However, in my limited opinion, there were some really good wines (click here for a list of wine companies and distributors).


Wine glass and North West Spring Wine Festival 2012


It was a bit too crowded to get to everyone – and even though you only got a small amount per taste – many dribbles do several large glasses make! So I was physically too squiffy to work my way through all of them. However, the ones that stood out for me where also the ones where we got the chance to speak to people.

For example, the woman from Tour de Belfort an organic vineyard near Toulouse in France who told us about how she removes any bunches of grapes which don’t look like they are developing well, from the vine and leaves them on the ground so that only the best grapes reach maturity. They only allow – I think it was 14 bunches per vine (I may have got that wrong) instead of the usual 40 to ensure that they are premium quality. She then individually inspects each grape before it makes it into the vat. And believe me, you could taste all the effort – it was lovely!


People inside North West Spring Wine Festival


The woman from Pacta Connect ‘The largest importer of quality wines from Northern Croatia’. She was an absolute joy to talk to and her love and knowledge of Croatian wines was fascinating. Interesting fact for the day – further south around Dubrovnik, the wines grow in shallow soil on the side of hills in strong sunshine. There is little water so the wines are very concentrated and strong (16%), which is why when you go on your Dubrovnik mini-breaks you can’t remember most of it because the wine is so potent there. Again, her specialist knowledge meant that her wines (or at least the ones I tried) were divine!

We ended up hanging out by the Harvey Nichols stand. Again their wines were lovely, but they’d bought a few ringers – Rose Port, Rhubarb Vodka and Caramel Rum. All of which were spectacular.


Harvey Nicks stand at the North West Spring Wine Festival 2012


With all this vino etc. tasting, accompanying nibbles were crucial – whereupon I stumbled across my new favourite thing. I cannot rave highly enough about The Manchester Egg! A pickled egg wrapped in a jacket of black pudding and sausage meat with a golden crumb. Anoint it with a magical sauce from Honduras and what you’ve got is the finest thing I’ve tasted in a long while. And as someone who always gets her full English without black pudding – I feel like I’ve stepped into a completely new culinary arena!


Montage of the Manchester Egg


And where would you be with a room full of wine without cheese? Along with nibbles of artisan bread from Bakerie, there was cheese from The Cheshire Cheese Company - with ‘cheese that makes you grin’. I did quite a lot of grinning yesterday anyway – but cheese tasting topped off a thoroughly pleasant evening.


Cheshire Cheese company - montage



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Food and Drink Festival and Alison Staples.

This is not a sponsored blog post.


Related posts:

What’s On – North West Spring Wine Festival.






North West Spring Wine Festival

What could be finer for a May Bank Holiday?


Than a celebration of boutique wines brought to Manchester by independent merchants!


North West Wine Festival Logo


Tucked away in Ancoats, St. Peter’s church will provide a stunning setting for a touch of wine tasting – the very best wine producers from around the globe, hand-picked especially for the event by the region’s top independent retailers.


St Peters Church Ancoats

Participating purveyors of fine wine include:

hangingditch, City Centre, Manchester.

Bakerie, City Centre, Manchester.

Cork’s Out, Alderley Edge, Chester, Stockton Heath, Heswall & Timperley, Cheshire.

Origin Wines and Spirits, Wigan.

Manchester Wine School, Manchester-wide.

Tour de Belfort, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Pacta Connect, Nationwide.

Harvey Nichols Manchester, City Centre, Manchester.

Cape Klein, Stockport.

The Co-operative Wines, City Centre, Manchester.

C and O Wines, Timperley, Cheshire.

The Vineyard, Ramsbottom, Bury.

Spirited Wines, City Centre, Manchester.

 Wine glasses - close up


The weekend fiesta runs across three sessions and aims to showcase a first class bounty of fine wines and independent merchants. Walking tours of historical Ancoats are set to take place throughout the day, and there’ll be explorations of the area’s ‘Little Italy’ heritage.


There will also be a programme of masterclasses, from some of Manchester’s most revered experts including:


Simon Woods, award-winning wine writer, speaker and consultant tasting a range ‘up market pub wines’ with attendees.

Trevor Long of Pacta Connect staging his own Croatian Wines Masterclass.

Dave & Katy Paddle (Black Dog Wine Agency) exploring New Zealand Wines.

Nate Booker of Epernay tutoring guests through a Champagne masterclass.

Muriel Lismonde of Tour de Belfort hosting an exploration of French blended wines.

Stuart Rothwell from The Vineyard revealing more about an Australian vineyard.

Tako Horton, expert on Japanese Rice Wine, providing a fascinating tutored tasting of Sake.



And it gets better! There’s food!


The Cheshire Cheese Company will be there, there’ll be artisan breads courtesy of the Bakerie and Franca’s will be showcasing their authentic Italian homemade preserves.

Plus the unstoppable Manchester Egg will be making an appearance at the wine fest. I thought this was maybe the festival mascot, but it’s apparently ‘Manchester’s finest export!’

“A pickled egg wrapped in Bury Black Pudding and premium sausage meat with a golden crumb.”

Ginger’s Comfort Emporium (ice-cream for grown ups) will be serving up her scrumptious artisan and experimental ice-cream, including, especially for the wine festival, a Dark Chocolate and Spiced Red Wine variety.

Forever Manchester, the city’s own community foundation are the official charity to the event, with a wine-lovers heavenly raffle taking place and donations from walking tours and other producers on the site going directly to local community projects.

Finally, Manchester’s brand new open top bus will even be available providing shuttles for the Saturday evening session. Wine revelers can grab a ride from Piccadilly Gardens for the Saturday session arriving at the festival in style and for free.  The bus will depart on Saturday 6th May from Chorlton Street at 4.45pm and onwards.

All in all (and come rain or shine!) a beautiful, boozy bank holiday is guaranteed!

Who’s in then?

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Food and Drink Festival and Alison Staples

For the most up-to-date news of confirmed merchants and activities follow the North West Spring Wine Fest 2012! @NW_WineFest12

Tickets available

This is not a sponsored blog post.




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