Cocktails, coffee and chai are getting Confidentials writers through May
You might expect a best drinks column to be all wine and cocktails, perhaps with a few tequila shots as a chaser. Well we are as surprised as anyone to find that the non-alcoholic drinks consistently making the grade. While our livers say thanks for the break there is still a bev or two on the list, don't worry. This month is an exercise in restraint versus indulgence as our writers explore the lure of the naff in cocktails, the fruity temptation of iced tea and how to resist eating a garnish (tip - imagine it a decorative basket from Laura Ashley).
Read on for a selection of the best things to drink in Manchester in April 2022.
Blood Orange Bramble, Albert's Shed, (£8.50)
If summer were a colour, it would be orange. Well at least in my humble opinion it would be. I'm thinking Aperol, mangoes, beach towels, and the colour of my legs after I've whacked on a few coats of gradual tan to hide my wintery white sheen. Sticking to this citrus-coloured theme, my drink of the month for May is a blood orange bramble from Albert's Shed in Castlefield - the epitome of a summer hangout thanks to its canal-side outdoor seating. A tart mix of Amalfi blood orange gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and pink grapefruit liquor, this bramble is the halfway house between an orange Calippo lolly and a gin fizz cocktail. Bitter, fizzy, glowing in the sun, and in a nice little crystal glass. Strong enough to feel like you're on a beach in Italy with European alcohol measures, but not so strong that you need some carbs and a siesta to get you through. Don't try and eat the dried blood orange garnish though, it tastes like your nan's potpourri. Ellie-Jo Johnstone @elliejoj.
Blue Train, Schofield's Bar (£11.50)
In the 90s, I used to collect books about cocktails and cocktail food. I was obsessed with miniature versions of everything served alongside convoluted mixed drinks in barmy glassware. I piled my parents' loft high with martini and hurricane glasses, some of which are still gathering dust there - sorry mum. One of my all time favourite cocktail books (for sheer audacity, you understand, certainly not the quality recipes) is called "69 Naughty Cocktails from Cyprus". It pairs outré, dated drinks with daft names like Slippery Nipple, G String and Between The Sheets with even more vulgar soft porn imagery. Actually it's horrific but it holds a weird magnetism for me for reasons that are between me and my psychiatrist. Naffness is something I'm kind of drawn to so imagine my surprise when one of the classiest bars in town presented me with a drink containing the ultimate in kitsch liqueurs, blue curaçao. The Blue Train combines the aforementioned with orange oil, lemon and Sipsmith gin for a zingy drink that glows like a jellyfish. No soft porn included. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
Colombian coffee with salt, Cafe Sanjuan (£2)
When in Rome, I try to do exactly as the Romans do. And when in Stockport, obviously as the Colombians do. Let me explain. You might well have heard of Cafe Sanjuan. Our team fell in love with the tiny Colombian cafe on St Petersgate in Stockport on our visit back in March and we have been there individually multiple times since.
More than a breakfast spot, Cafe Sanjuan serves up home-roasted, home-ground Colombian coffee in three iterations: with water, with milk, or a single shot. Owner Luis Felipe Sanjuan imports the beans from his home country, green as the day they were picked. He roasts them as far as he desires and then serves the rocket fuel to his unsuspecting guests. I am not unsuspecting though, I wanted to drink coffee exactly how Luis would have it at home. “With a pinch of salt,” he said. And so I did. Sophie Rahnema @sophieshahla
Iced tea, Bold Street Coffee (£3.30)
What does this Manchester gal and a Southern Belle have in common? Not much but a love of iced tea, bless your heart. Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that peach is my go-to, but I was intrigued by the sound of the Fruits of Eden flavoured iced tea at the new-ish Cross Street offshoot of Liverpool’s Bold Street Coffee. Indeed, peach might be a thing of the past now I’ve discovered this fruity delight, as cool and refreshing as a melted ice-lolly but not as sweet thanks to the dark, herbal kick of tea. Appropriately for tea inspired by the world's very first garden, flavours run the gamut from apple (naturally) to strawberry, pineapple, honeydew, mango, beetroot, rosehip, rose petals, safflower, hibiscus, liquorice root and passion fruit. Tempting. Lucy Tomlinson @hotcupoftea
Kashmiri pink chai, Chit & Chaat (£2.50)
India is my favourite place on earth. I constantly find myself reminiscing about my time spent in its beautiful, diverse, colourful chaos and dreaming of the day I return. A redeeming flavour memory of my time there along with curry leaf and fresh green chilli is the sweet spiced scent of the country's ubiquitous chai tea. I drank a lot of chai in India, from cafes on the banks of the turquoise Ganges in Rishikesh to long train journeys across country from Delhi to Jaipur where chaiwallas leapt on the train to hawk it at every station stop. But until recently I'd never had pink Kashmiri chai. Chit & Chaat is a relatively new Indian street food joint on Wilmslow road and, alongside a snacky lunch including samosa chaat, chilli paneer and Amritsari fish, it was there that I enjoyed my first pot of pink tea. The tea is not made pink with food colouring but its hue is a result of the natural reaction of the chlorophyll in tea and bicarb of soda (though this one does look like it's had a little help, perhaps from beetroot powder). It's flavoured with spices including cardamom, ginger and fennel and poured over crushed pistachio for a totes Wes Anderson colour palette. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
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