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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Things to Do in Manchester in June: Drinking, Mostly...

Now don't get me wrong - I like a four day weekend as much as the next person. More, possibly, if that next person is a responsible, grown-up sort of individual. But it's all too horribly easy to get a little bit carried away with the whole laissez faire, anything goes sort of atmosphere that tends to pervade these occasions: a barbecue here, a house-warming party there, a quick beer festival to tide you over...and before you know it, those cute little denim shorts you purchased in a flush of summery optimism last week are starting to look distressingly unfeasible. And that's before we even start considering the damage done to your loyal, hard-working liver: yes, Pimm's MAY taste like pop, but apparently it counts as alcohol (so they say, anyway: I'm not sure I'm having ANY of it).

The sensible thing to do, then, is to have a pure, virtuous few days to undo all that damage, and emerge like a gorgeous sparkly butterfly from its grumpy, puffy-eyed, muffin-topped chrysalis at the end of it. And that's precisely why it's SO UNFAIR that a whole raft of lovely, shiny, booze-fuelled events are offering themselves up, slinkily and seductively, for my attention over the next couple of weeks. Here are just a few of the temptations that have been so cruelly strewn in my path:

1. First up, it's Whisky Month at Selfridges between June 8th and 24th; not quite a month, admittedly, in my understanding of the word, but as events are taking place at both the Trafford Centre and Exchange Square stores then perhaps each day counts twice. There are various tastings and events scattered alluringly across June, including a Glenmorangie tasting on Saturday June 9th (ironically, these tastings will be FULL of thirsty boys who already know EXACTLY what each of the whiskies on offer tastes like *looks pointedly at Mr Liz, who is looking at the ceiling and whistling innocently*) and a special Jura cocktail-making event at Exchange Square on Thursday 21st June with Willie Tait, Global Brand Ambassador for the Jura Single Malt. Full details available in store - I think Mr Liz is simply planning on dividing the remainder of June equally between the two stores and sampling whatever gets in his way.

2. But here we have our first alcohol pile-up: Thursday 21st June is also wine tasting night at Manchester's Castlefield Rooms - indeed, more wines than you can shake a stick at, for it is the 50 Great Portuguese Wines Tasting Event. The wines have all been selected by Master of Wine Julia Harding, who was awarded Portugal’s Journalist of the Year in 2011 and who has been tirelessly scouring the country for prime wines to set before us ever since (brave...SO brave). Tickets are a mere £10 but must be booked in advance - further details from

3. And speaking of Thursdays, the excellent "Series" of events continues at The Avenue, Spinningfields, with each achingly desirable shop taking it in turns to host a soiree with complimentary drinks provided by the Yacht Club. Last week's pop-up art exhibition in Flannels was just stunning, and although unfortunately tomorrow's event has had to be postponed, keep an eye on the website for details of next week's - I already know what it is, and I can confirm I am EXCITED.

4. So finally, after all that boozing, it's only right that I've enrolled in boot camp...*dramatic pause, smug trickster face, Alan Partridge tone of voice*...ha ha, that's right - COCKTAIL boot camp. Now this really does look like the sort of exercise I might be very good at - the team behind Monkey Shoulder Whisky will be strenuously putting us through our paces and cracking the whip as we learn how to make a range of drinks including the imperious Old-Fashioned and the exciting-sounding Jam Sour. We each get our own shaker, stirrer and swizzle stick (here's guessing that Mr Liz's shaker will be empty long before boot camp leader Dean Callan is even halfway through his instructions) and get to play at being Tom Cruise for a full hour and a half before anybody will think to step in and stop us. I for one can't wait for this one, as I'm always ready to leap at an, ahem, educational opportunity. The Monkey Shoulder Boot Camp arrives in Manchester on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June, with a 4pm session on each day at Apotheca - places are free but must be pre-booked by emailing beforehand.

Still, never mind - there's ALWAYS July...

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