The team behind Tariff & Dale and Lead Station opened Beech Road’s newest contender in spring 2023, to Chorlton’s delight. 97 is an upscale bar serving top-quality cocktails conceived by general manager and local Chorlton lass Ellie Craddick. The candlelit ambience and dark décor create an intimate, romantic evening vibe, with large mirrors enhancing the space.
The cocktail menu is undeniably novel. Once seated at one of the chic marble tables, you’ll be presented with a deck of top trump cards showing a list of the main ingredients and a picture of each cocktail. If you prefer surprises, shuffle the deck. Either way, it’s a great little hit of nostalgia.
A good place to start is 97’s House Spritz. Like other classics in the deck, it’s familiar but with a sophisticated twist: ditching the standard Aperol in favour of an amaro blend, it has a touch of rich sweetness from raisins and apricots, taking the edge off the bittersweet liqueur. Similarly, the Paloma gets a glow-up with berry flower soda, mezcal instead of agave syrup and a glorious green stripe of smoked rosemary salt up the side.
T-13 is served in a ceramic cup adorned with a pair of homemade gummy bears on a skewer. It includes ‘chilli maple’ as an ingredient and tastes like, well, Christmas. Marvel as Ellie and co painstakingly apply a topping of tiny green apple gel spheres to Evergreen by tweezer. This one is, of course, flavoured with all things green: Argentinian Maté gin, Jasmine Verte liqueur, and a basil and pepper tincture.
For more out-of-the-box flavours, try East Side’s cocoa butter-washed pandan rum or Night & Day’s IPA reduction. Fill up beforehand (or sober up afterwards) at next-door neighbours Lead Station on hearty classics done well, such as steak pie and mushroom tagliatelle.
Finally, if you fancy yourself as a music quiz boffin: Ellie’s menu hints at a strong musical influence by a certain solo artist. See if you can pick up the clues. Here’s one for free: Evergreen does not refer to Will Young’s 2002 Pop Idol hit. So ditch that idea, or Shake It Off, as it were.
It’s worth taking a trip over to South Manchester to appreciate 97’s fascinating menu and impressively knowledgeable staff. You’ll undoubtedly find something new and special here, all thanks to the high-end flavourings and cutting-edge techniques.