One of the most interesting cocktail menus to come out this year, we visit Cottonopolis in Manchester to check out their Idioms menu produced by Gethin Jones and his bar team.
If you haven't checked it out, Cottonopolis is a Japanese inspired bar and restaurant that has that New York, exposed brick, loft style vibe going on and is one of Manchesters busiest high volume independent operators. Located on the edge of the Northern Quarter the atmosphere is great and the crowd feel like a well travelled bunch of 25+ professionals with an appreciation of the finer things in life and we image can also be found in the glamorous surroundings of The Refuge on Manchester's Oxford Street.
Speaking to Gethin he tells us that he would benchmark his own drinks with venues such as Science and Industry and Wood and Co whilst serving them at a volume more associated with the higher volume bars you might find around Spinningfields.
The third menu installment at Cottonopolis is a thirteen strong list that covers a wide range of flavours and unusual ingredients, the bars philosophy is to deliver potentially challenging or unfamiliar products in a way that guests can enjoy and are happy to try and experiment with.
A great example of this is Gold Coins to a Hat. Currently the most popular drink on the list selling well into the three figures per week the drink is actually a Sake (Japanese rice wine) based cocktail. Gethin comments
"our challenge is to sell complex drinks at a high volume in a way that we are proud of and this drink is a great example. We use the hook of popular flavours such as the strawberry and gin to draw people in and once they've enjoyed the drink we can begin a conversation about acai and the sake that formed a large part of the cocktail"
Each drink is named after a Japanese idiom which can be humorous, clever but always cryptic and we've selected a few that really caught the eye:
Evil Cause Evil Effect
Don Julio Tequila Infused With Roasted Pineapple, Shiso and Yuzu, Lillet Blanc, Suze, Citric Acid, Sour Pineapple Paint
Tomorrow's Wind Will Blow Tomorrow
Plantation 3yr, Pineapple And Overproof Rums, Aluna Coconut Rum, Robata Grilled Mango, Black “Tiki” Tea Citrus, Milk Washed
Different Body Same Mind
Augier Singulier Cognac, Cabernet Franc Ice Wine, Suze Peach Hop, Blackcurrant Leaf & Dandylion Bitters
No expense has been spared on the texture, feel and design of the menue itself arriving in a leather bound book when thinking about the popular phrase the first taste is with the eye this journey begins from the minute you pick up the menu.
Bold graphics throughout I particularly like the fact the drinks are described in two formats. A straight ingredients list that can appeal to one type of guest and then a flavour profile description that helps the guest to make a decision based on their flavour preferences.
Since launching the menu Gethin reflects;
For me as a bartender one thing I have been very happy to see if guests coming in and ordering the same drink two or three times. Although bartenders are infamous for just ordering "their drink" off menu and to their speck our guests typically will try a drink here a drink there. To see a group order 2 or 3 rounds of the same cocktail and then come back the following week and order the same drink is a great compliment"
So if you haven't been to Cottonopolis yet take advice from the wise old sage Cocktails in the City "enjoy one drink today, and another tomorrow"