Blinker takes cocktails seriously, but that doesn’t mean it’s a snooty drinks emporium that demands a mixology exam before letting you in. Far from it, it’s one of the most welcoming upscale bars in the city centre, staffed by cheerful, chatty drinks experts who are in it for the love of making drinks that look and taste beautiful.
You’ll find it in Spring Gardens, smack bang in the centre of Manchester, but nicely tucked away so the weekend warriors pass it by. It’s an ideal place for a date night, or somewhere sophisticated to take friends to show the best of the city’s hospitality scene.
And this January, they’re taking an amusing response to the ascetic weirdness that sweeps the country this time of year by offering RYE January. This means a host of rye whisky cocktail are on offer – just £7 each for Blinker classics such as Remember the Maine, Mint Julep and New York Sour, plus 25% off all neat whisky serves if you want to live out your inner Bukowski. (It’s also a nod to the name of the bar, a relatively unknown three-ingredient cocktail, consisting of rye, grapefruit and raspberry. Try one, then another. You’ll like it.)
But if you do fancy a non-alcoholic drink, the Blinker team has you covered. Either ask them to whip up something bespoke, or go for one of their well-crafted booze-free cocktails. We recommend the No Nonsense, a smart blend of Three Spirit livener, cranberry, orange and lemon, that demonstrates the Blinker barkeep skills arent limited to the fermented stuff.
The menu changes with the seasons – just imagine the sheer joy of those cocktail-crafting sessions – which means January’s menu is based on a series of great post-Christmas aromas: almond, apple, ginger and thyme. The Strudel (Havana 7, Pedro Ximenez, apple, cinnamon, eggnog and tonka) is one of God’s own creations – a glorious take on apple pie that almost shouldn’t be possible.
But that’s just one example from a rich, complex and ultimately fun menu. Apple Of My Eye incorporates rhubarb, lemon, Cointreau and Barsol Pisco, plus the titular fruit, to make a sassy citrus concoction that you could drink again and again. And that’s the beauty of the menu, it offers something for all palates, whether you care about the wood used for the whisky barrel, or just want something bright and fruity. It’ll keep you coming back for more, as will the staff.
If you’re looking for a Cheers-style bar in the city centre, with likeable, chatty staff who know their onions, not to mention their fruits, herbs, spices and spirits, Blinker’s the one.