THE LATEST addition to Millennium Square takes cocktails into the realm of experimental and the newly opened venue was well-frequented during opening week.
Occupying a spot formerly taken up by Casa Mia and then Teppan 260, this London-born cocktail chain’s first foray into the North has a premium feel, both in its furnishings and prices.
Expect to pay £8.50 upwards for one of the dozens of cocktails explained in its thick glossy menu - nicely laid out with pictures of selected tipples - and enjoy sipping it down in stylish surroundings: raised, brown leather benches and bar stools set around two bars, one either side of the door, beneath blue walls in a location primed for people watching out onto the Square.
The atmosphere was lively. Enthusiastic staff at each bar competed for our attention as we entered.
I chose a drink that screamed ‘dessert’, a popster (£8.50) from bar’s ‘Top 12’ drinks listed with illustrations in the menu’s centre pages. It consisted of butterscotch schnapps, sweet and salty popcorn and ice cream and was served in a wine glass with a straw; popcorn sprinkled on top. I picked at the corn and found the cocktail to be delicious, buttery and light, though the popcorn that remained at the bottom of the glass at the end looked like soggy cereal.
My drinking partner had an English fizz (£9.50) - Hendrick’s gin and Chase Elderflower liqueur muddled with fresh mint, fresh lemon juice and homemade cucumber syrup, topped with soda water and served in a tumbler. Sharp in flavour, it is the sort of cocktail to arrest the senses and refresh the taste buds on a sunny day.
The service was speedy and we were asked about our plans for the evening. The staff were clearly out to win over customers and five or six times a member of the team wandered over to our table check we were enjoying the experience. We were made aware of the bar’s app and downloaded it. You can set a time to be your ‘happy hour’ and cash in on a 2-for-1 deal at a time to suit. There’s also a feature selects a cocktail for you that is then offered up at £5.
Next, we tried a Shaky Pete’s (£8.50) - gin, lemon juice, ginger syrup and Meantime ale. The beer-gin combo made for a refreshing, summery flavour with the citrus prevalent. Then, a devilishly sweet option, Rhys’s Pieces (£8.50). Two Reece’s Pieces (the American chocolate and peanut butter snack) were blended with vanilla ice cream, bourbon and sugar. I wouldn’t order more than one. Sweet and tasty, but it sits heavy like a glutinous dessert - there’s a third Reece’s piece on top.
The playful cocktails were consistent with the atmosphere and an upbeat soundtrack - Fatboy Slim and The Champs.