MM columnist and Drinks Enthusiast, David Marsland, returns with another bar review, and also his first casino experience...
Last Wednesday I had an eye-opening experience – I entered my first ever casino and wow, have I been fooled into thinking every casino looks like a James Bond or Oceans Eleven film!
Always one to try out new places, I ventured along to Manchester 235, located close to Deansgate, to sample some of their cocktail delights in the setting of their Fusion Bar, with a sumptuous surrounding of velvet arm chairs scattered around a fantastic looking eight metre glass bar that catches your eye straight away.
Open to the public from noon till 6am (so no need to be a member, and no obligation to gamble), with the cocktail menu open from 5pm, they offer delights such as Margarita, Daiquiri and Martini mixed in with their own signature cocktails that had Passionfruit Caiproska, Vanilla Pudding and Jack’s Passion (all £7.50) catching my eye. Peroni, Corona and Tsingtao are available for your bottled lager, with Fosters, Kronenbourg 1664 and John Smiths all on draught, with Bulmers your cider option.
Spain and Italy dominate the wine list by the glass, with £17 the highest for a bottle (a more extensive wine list is also available), where you can also purchase select bottles of spirit for the price of £100 – £190. Scanning their back bar, they have offerings of Grey Goose, Belvedere, Tanqueray 10, Patron, Gentleman Jack, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s and both the Havana and Bacardi range, all within a decent price. I also spied some interesting choices including U’Luvka vodka, Macallan 18yr and Remy Martin XO.
As for my night, I started out with a Toffee Apple cocktail (Zubrowka, Manzana Verde, apple juice, Angostura Bitters and a dash of vanilla) while taking in the surroundings of Manchester 235. Fusion bar is a rather spacious place, with tall ceilings that give it an ‘open’ feel. Housed within The Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester 235 has retained the use of exposed brick and iron work, and complimented it with soft lighting and canvas paintings. With the casino itself feeling almost separate to the bar, you do get that feeling that you’re not actually in a casino, which for a non-gambler, can be a comfort.
Back to the cocktails, and with the Toffee Apple enjoyed, I went for a classic Old Fashioned (Woodford Reserve, bitters and sugar) which is always worth the seven minute wait. Whilst enjoying this bourbon based drink, I glanced at the bar food menu (open 2pm till 4.30am) which has your basic burger and chips, steak, onion and mushroom baguette and a traditional chicken curry amongst others.
You can even order ‘bits and bobs’ – small portions of fries, onion rings etc. or a choice of five pizzas, unless you would like to make your own! All the bar food comes to under £10, which is reasonable considering the portions I saw flying past me.
To end my night of cocktails, I opted for a fruitier option – Diamond (Bacardi Oakheart, Chambord, lime, sugar and raspberries topped with Ginger Beer), with a Hendrick’s and Tonic sipped to while away the early morning hours.
Manchester 235 has squashed any sort of stereotypical casino image in my head, with some great cocktails, a fantastic setting and what looks like great food to be tried. They do have their own British cuisine restaurant named Linen, housed on the balcony behind the Fusion bar which I intend to try out in the near future, as well as function rooms with a stage area and a private members area and bar which overlooks the main casino.
Catering for all types of clientele, at all times of the day, Manchester 235 seems to have hit the nail here and I for one, will be back again.
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