Trying 19 Cafe Bar's New Cocktail Menu

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a cocktail obsessive, always scouting out the best happy hours and newest watering holes popping up across London or Manchester. Manchester's 19 Cafe Bar recently launched a pretty extensive new cocktail menu that sounded right up my street, so I headed over to the Northern Quarter with my sister to give it a try. 

19 Cafe Bar exudes a laid-back cool atmosphere, with its bare brickwork, wooden furniture and filament bulbs producing a sort of New York City vibe: the kind of place you'd expect to find men with thick Bronx accents drinking whiskey on the rocks while a jazz musician plays in the corner. Already feeling right at home, I ordered an Orange Espresso Martini in no time while my sister ordered the Aviation, both from the signature cocktails list. I was told that the martini was made using locally sourced coffee and you could certainly tell from the taste: a rich balance of bitter and sweet, the coffee featuring chocolate and nutty notes with the orange adding a perfect amount of zest. Espresso martinis are usually my go-to drink so it was nice to have one with such a unique flavour in comparison to the usual original version or overdone salted caramel alternatives. My sister's Aviation was equally as delicious, a delicate fruit and floral concoction with Tanquery gin and violet, which I imagine would be perfect after dinner as a palette cleanser. 

Caffeinated and already impressed I then ordered from the "make your own gin cocktail" section of their menu- a genius idea if you ask me! 19 Cafe Bar allow you to choose from a selection of six gins- including a few local favourites- paired with a choice of tonics and garnish. I opted for Daffy's gin with cucumber and watermelon tonic and a garnish of cucumber and juniper berries. My taste in gin is ever-growing and while I'm definitely no connoisseur yet, this was fantastic. The light notes of mint, lemon and coriander in the gin balanced perfectly with my tonic and garnish of choice, plus I'm obsessed with anything watermelon flavour so this one was a no-brainer. My sister had ordered a cocktail called Harlem Nights, made using Jose Cuervo silver tequila with vanilla and fresh strawberries. After sampling a taste I deduced that it tasted exactly like an adult strawberry Ribena, ideal if you're partial to cocktails on the fruitier side. 

For our final round of drinks I ordered a Bramble and my sister a Pornstar Martini, because if you're going to sample a cocktail menu you have to try the classics as well. It would be rude not to. My Bramble was a lovely balance of sweet and sour, garnished beautifully with a lemon and blackberry garnish. I found it very refreshing and easy to drink, and could imagine sipping it on a hot summer's day in the bar's outdoor seating area. My sister's Pornstar Martini was extremely smooth tasting and was created using both vanilla vodka and vanilla syrup to produce an almost caramel taste. It's a classic for good reason.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of cocktails 19 Cafe Bar had to offer, with the selection spanning two pages plus the DIY gin options. With something for every taste I could have spent all day there if it wasn't for the fact it was a Monday afternoon. Overall the staff were super knowledgeable and if the drinks alone weren't good enough, they also offer a fantastic happy hour of 2 for £10 on cocktails between 3pm and 7pm every day.  A win win!

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