Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WB – Visit Now
As you’d expect from the nation’s greatest steakhouse, Hawksmoor knows a thing or two about timing. Just as Lockdown 2 kicked in, they launched Cocktails at Home, the self-explanatory boozy addition to their Hawksmoor at Home range. These are available from the 4th November and should prove ideal for those who fancy a safe at-home drink during November and beyond.
There are two options, bottled cocktails and canned cocktails, but happily, I’m trying both. They arrive in a grand box, all dark shades and elegant materials, like a little slice of Manchester’s revered Hawksmoor venue in a 2-foot container. Inside, four 200ml bottles, styled around a pre-COVID aesthetic (hell, they look like they’re from pre-Spanish Flu times), timeless and classic, like the contents themselves. Each bottle contains enough for two substantial cocktails, so unless you’re channelling the sozzled spirit of Oliver Reed, you’ll want to share these with a friend or partner. Plus there are four single-serve canned cocktails, sold as a set for £28 at thehawksmoor.com/shop (the bottled cocktails are £48 for all four, though can be purchased separately).
Each cocktail is pretty much ready to go, other than a few minor additions and prep techniques. Some need to go in the freezer for a couple of hours, while others need a bay leaf or a twist of lemon, nothing too taxing. However, the results are astonishing.
First the bottled cocktails. Here, the Ultimate Dry Martini, Sour Cherry Negroni, Hepple Gimlet and the legendary Fuller-fat Old Fashioned. All my drinking cohorts rave on about this – who’d have thought infusing brown butter into bourbon could result in something so wonderfully smooth? My socially-distanced companion declares it the greatest thing he’s ever sipped, and who am I to argue?
You’re guaranteed the sky-high quality ingredients that make up the drinks at Hawksmoor IRL
Personally, I have a sweet tooth, some might say ‘childish palate’, so I lean toward the more brightly-coloured options. The sour cherry negroni is a thing of beauty. Ever-so slightly bitter and cheek-suckingly sour, it’s the summery hints of cherry that makes this so delicious – with slight pangs of regret that summer 2020 was, well, you know. Don’t forget to garnish with a cherry, though you might struggle to find a fresh one, in which case a slice of orange will do the trick.
This is a huge part of the fun of Cocktails at Home. You’re guaranteed the sky-high quality ingredients that make up the drinks at Hawksmoor IRL, but can play-act at being one of the bartenders – who, incidentally, I often describe as being the happiest people in all of Manchester hospitality. If I ever decide to throw in the food-and-drink-writing towel and give life on the other side a shot, it’ll be Hawksmoor I’ll be begging for a shift. Or if you’re a bit weird, you can act out the bar scene from The Shining, whatever floats your boat.
With the canned cocktails, you get the Ginza Highball, Hawksmoor Calling, Back Burner and the 20/20 Cosmo. The Cosmo is an update of the 1980s classic, adding a little orange wine and a hit of fizz into the mix and a stone-cold classic, to my tastebuds. My drinking buddy for the evening declares the Highball the *hic* winner, a precise blend of Johnny Walker Black Label, distilled quince, apple and lemon verbena soda.
But that’s not to do the others down, more an example of how there’s something for all tastes here. Don’t scrimp this winter, buy the lot, turn the lights down low and make an evening of it. They even come with a carefully-curated Spotify playlist, though if you plan on drinking through the entire 15 hours, forget the paracetamol, you’ll be looking at the kind of hangover only a full-body blood transfusion can fix.