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Thursday, 3 November 2011

The North Pole Bar Returns; (Most of) Manchester Rejoices

Now, I must start off by saying that it's probably just me. I have long since learned that if you're the sort of person prone to getting wildly over-excited about things, then you are also likely to suffer the occasional disappointment, where you look sadly at your wine glass and feel that perhaps, just this once, it maybe is really half empty - although normally this can be swiftly countered by sending a passing husband on a bar run.

And for someone who really, really likes Christmas, the opening of this year's temporary North Pole Bar by Urbis had excitement written all over it. I am one of those truly annoying souls who has to be physically restrained from getting out her copy of Nigella Christmas before October, who would happily listen to Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is Yooooooo any time from June onwards, and who doesn't understand why mince pies can not be eaten with impunity all year round.

So a special Christmas bar, serving mulled wine and other tempting hot cocktails in a snug Winter Wonderland, sounded just perfect. I mean, just look at their twinkily seductive website! If you wait a moment, Parky the Polar Bear will even wink at you, for HE is excited about Christmas too! I'd also heard really good things about previous versions of this visiting festive paradise; literally the whole of Manchester seemed excited yesterday to welcome it back to the centre of our beautiful city.

So like I say, it's probably just me. A quick glance at Twitter this morning showed immense love for last night's launch party, and indeed, parts of it were lovely. Parky the Polar Bear was there to greet us all, as were a number of charming staff who did their best to keep so many people fed and watered, and the hot cocktails - including Manchester Mulled Wine (with added Vimto) and Winter Crumble (vodka, caramelised apple juice and cinnamon) - are indeed delicious.

The problem for me was that it just didn't feel Christmassy enough. The first room you enter is a wooden chalet, draped with festive greenery, and offering comfy leather sofas where you can toast yourself in front of a screen showing a picture of a flickering log fire; the second, a curtained-off area filled with white bench seating; the third, the excitingly-named "Rudolph Room", wasn't open before we left (although I like to hope it was full of reindeer sat around having a chat and a glass of mulled wine, making the most of their free time before being called into action on Christmas Eve). It just didn't have the cosy feel I was expecting; instead, it felt a little cold, a little sterile, and the music was an odd mixture of pop and dance that seemed not to give a jot for the fact that Slade probably should be on round about now.

Obviously, it doesn't really matter what I think - the bar will be a raging success, and why not? It has all the ingredients of a really good Christmas night out: mulled wine, a giant inanimate polar bear, and a food stall selling Bratwurst sausages and venison burgers. It deserves its success but it's not for me; I'm off to have a far less cool Yule with my copy of Now That's What I Call Christmas...

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