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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Perfect Saturday - Liquorice Bar, WestFest and the Return of the Alchemist Chicken in a Basket

Sometimes, a day just goes right. And to be honest, you know you're off to a winning start when you wake up to find that a/ it's Saturday, and b/ you feel tip-toppity despite taking part in a Liquorists Rum Trail the night before. And here's how the day got EVEN BETTER...

1. A sunny WestFest. This was the fourth annual celebration of the independent businesses that flourish along West Didsbury's Burton Road, and for me it was the best. The sun was shining, the beach was back at Folk, the queue for free fish and chips at Frankie's Fish Bar was as long as ever, and - best of all - a pop-up tavern had appeared outside Rhubarb. Here I sat, drinking icy-cold white wine and snarfing cartons of crispy fried chicken, coronation coleslaw and pulled pork roll, enjoying the sun whilst a stream of familiar faces meandered past - perfect.

2. The Return of the Giant Chicken. You may recall my joyful introduction to the chicken in a basket at the Alchemist NYS a few weeks ago; indeed, I was pretty much the only Manchester food person who celebrated this happy hen during a week when she found her tasty wares much maligned. Well, my charming dinner companion loved her bulging basket - and this time, even the coleslaw was good. And anyone who queries the fact that I had fried chicken twice on Saturday will simply be directed back to the beginning of this post to re-acknowledge that this was a day when everything went right.

3. Discovery of a New Cocktail Bar. Again, less charitable souls might suggest that I already know of plenty of Manchester drinking holes, but I'm always ready to welcome a new addition with open arms - particularly when it's running a range of tempting offers. The bar in question is Liquorice, which opened a few weeks ago in the former Destinos restaurant on Pall Mall just off King Street, and has already undergone a few changes in the form of new management. From what we saw, though, Liquorice deserves to hang around - we liked the dark, muted tones of the decor (even though from our lovely leather banquette we could see up a side street where two different men enjoyed full toilet facilities during the course of the evening), we liked the friendly knowledgeable staff (and the fact that they allowed us to bully them into playing our choice of music on the very well-stocked ipod behind the bar), and we VERY much liked that selected cocktails were two for the price of one (particularly as this selection included two of our favourites in the form of Amaretto Sour and Dark 'n' Stormy - both exceedingly well executed).

We also sampled a few of the signature cocktails, including the eponymous Liquorice - you can see it here in all its layered glory. A combination of fruit and extremely punchy liquorice is never going to be to everyone's taste (indeed, someone on Twitter referred to it as a real "Marmite" cocktail, and I can see why), but I loved it - a really unusual drink that I would order every single time. We were also impressed with the Flaming Mai Tai (which really showcased the quality of the Virgin Gorda rum used in making the drink), the Parma Violets-esque Aviation (pictured alongside the Liquorice), and a superlative Porn Star Martini, and felt that prices were pretty good for this part of town - the Liquorice, for example, is £6.95. We even had a small, surreptitious dance in our corner when the music got REALLY good - think New Order and Primal Scream as well as slightly more, ahem, up-to-date songs.

So, I ate, I drank, I danced, I basked in the sun...but the very best bit about about Saturday? After all that carousing, husband cabs was ready and waiting and I was in bed for midnight, ready to do it all again the next day...

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