Lock 91 is one of those places you’ll go to if you know it and you’re in the area. They’re unfortunately cursed to be part of Deansgate Locks; housing some of the most garish and personally horrid bars in Manchester. But on the far left side, nestled under Deansgate Metro Station, is a lovely three storey building called Lock 91.
Cosy and welcoming, with plush leather sofas throughout, sturdy wooden tables and stripped-back bare brick walls this place has lots of little rooms and hidey holes in which to grab a drink and cosy down into. A bar on each floor means you don’t have to wander far to get a drink and the drinks certainly hit the spot.
We went down last week to try some old and new cocktails and speak to Andi who enthusiastically ran us through the menu and their ideas. You can see they are proud of what they create and enjoy seeing the customer getting the same pleasure out of the drinks as they do.
Chambord, vanilla vodka, lime juice and gomme syrup served with fresh berries. This combination came about while they were trying to recreate the taste of fruit salad sweets. Instead they have perfectly imitated the raspberry ripple and bubble gum ice creams of our youth. This is sweet but moreish, and if you drink at the same time as eating one of the raspberries you get a much dryer more grown up mix of flavours.
A very popular summer choice with a mix of Eristoff vodka, lime juice & berries; this is a jam jar full of fresh berry flavours. Fruity and easy drinking this one is perfect on a sunny afternoon. This was my least favourite but Mrs B loved it, refreshing drink with a nice hit alcohol.
Another hark back to our younger selves this Tanqueray based zesty number is dry to start out and then tingles like sherbert on the tongue, nice and refreshing. Throughout a lot of the drinks, the names aren’t just there for show; the flavours are true to these and this is a perfect example; lemony and with that tingle afterwards.
91 Days Later
On to a longer number now, the Lock 91 twist on the traditional Zombie (do you like what they did with the name there?). Bacardi, Havana Especial and Kraken pack the punch in this one. Lime and ginger lengthen it in to a easy drinking full flavoured riot.
Johnnie Walker Red Label, maple syrup, strawberry and cherry. The whisky is the star of the show here, a cocktail for sipping and enjoying it mellow as the ice melts. Your reward for patience is the loveliness of a cocktail cherry soaked in all that smoky goodness. We had tried this at the 4Manchester Women 1st Birthday Party and it’s a great little drink. More of these for me please, I love a lady in red!
Named after a helpful patron who assisted in the refining process (lucky lady). Sipsmith gin and Chambord, dry and strong but complex with a tiny hint of sweetness this drink is a perfect end to an evening and worth calling in for on its own. This was one of my favourites and I could drink these all night long!
Chill Out Pedro
What do you do with your red wine other than sangria? you mix it with rum, gomme syrup and cinnamon and create an easy drinking taste sensation. This one elicited an “ooh” on first sip and is well worth a try when the new menu has launched.
Each cocktail has been tweaked and played around numerous times; they try and steer away from ‘safe’ classics and either make their own delicious drinks or change it enough that it’s unique to the bar. As much as I may offend other barmen friends of ours, I loved every single one of these cocktails which is not something I could say in other bars.
The new cocktail menu launched on 1st August, with a full array of drinks and mixes to practically suit every palate. Beer, wine, spirit cocktails for all, quality spirits on the bar and decent beers on draft.
They don’t want to be known as a cocktail bar; by their own admission, they believe there are better suited places in the city doing that single trade better. They want to be known as a bar that does good cocktails. Well you’ve convinced this picky cocktail drinker and his wife, we’ll keep coming back again and again and you should too!
Ignore the crass neon-lit strip next door straddling the canal, sit at the end of Deansgate and get a good drink in front of you in friendly surroundings. They’ll see you right. Which one is your favourite??