So, last month I went to the launch of a new pop-up bar in Spinningfields - a lovely, outdoorsy sort of place, so naturally, Manchester's weather did its worst. Well, what a difference a few weeks make - for when I went back to IN Bloom Bar last week for lunch, it was so hot that I was forced to complain constantly from the moment I left the house until the very second I plonked myself down on the lovely shaded terrace area, in the manner of an ungrateful English person who deserves nothing more than a good downpour. And actually, the sight of Spinningfields resplendent in the sun was enough to warm the heart - it seemed that the whole of Manchester was here, basking during its lunch hour (or possibly skiving off for the afternoon - difficult to be entirely sure) on The Lawns or enjoying a cocktail or two at one of the twin bars that now sit either side like Sirens luring thirsty Mancunians past the dangers of the LK Bennett sale. Of the two - The Long Bar and IN Bloom - the latter is by far my favourite, particularly now that the summer flowers are everywhere and the ivy is really starting to grow across the outside of the bar, ably decorated by the lovely Charlie's yarnbomb roses.
Anyway, we're here to try the food, as despite its general pocket-sizedness, IN Bloom is now offering a limited but fairly irresistible menu of choice items. First up is barbecue, with charming chef Adrian manning the grill and serving up sausages and burgers at £3 and £5 respectively - we both try a burger and find it juicy and pink and, predictably enough, sourced from the King of the Manchester Meatworld, Frosty Butcher. We follow this up with an antipasti sharing platter, which arrives laden with meats (the bresaola being a highlight), cheese, Egyptian-spiced hummus, artisan bread, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, caperberries and pickles - it is delicious, and it is hard to imagine how I might ever come for a drink here ever again and NOT manage to eat one of these, even as a pre-dinner warm-up item. There is also a meat or cheese option available, and home-made soups - although I think these have been suspended while the hot weather is here. Still, as IN Bloom is here for at least two years, the planned Autumn refurbishment will see the outdoor space converted to a completely covered seating area and there will no doubt be plenty of time for soup eating.
To wash all this down we tried a selection of the bar's cocktails, so over to your friend and mine the Liquor Chick to tell us all about them...
There’s nothing better than sitting back, relaxing and having a nice cool summer's drink in the garden at this time of year but, as nice as it is, there are just a few things missing when you’re sitting in your own back garden... the murmuring excitement and social buzz of being out in a city like Manchester and not to mention someone to make your drinks for you. There is a limited selection of cocktails available, but that is not always a bad thing. Although they could have a slightly wider selection of cocktails, the good thing about having a smaller amount of cocktails available is that they are likely to make them more often and therefore they will be more consistent for that reason. This was proven in the cocktails I tried; they were all well made and the menu didn’t always include some of the additional ingredients which make them even better value for money. For instance, I tried their Late in the Evening cocktail which is similar to a Kir Royale but it contains blackberries and sweet citrus rather than Cassis and what I didn’t know from the menu was that it also contained a small shot of vodka. If you like Champagne based cocktails, such as the Bellini or Kir Royale of the cocktail world, then you’ll love this drink.
Two of my favourite cocktails of the day were the Vanilla Mint Julep, which trust me is a LOT stronger than it sounds (= happy me), and the Country Garden Sour. The Vanilla Mint Julep, a bourbon based cocktail, is the type of cocktail that both men and women will love and is presented in a stylish metal container and had a great kick to it. The other bourbon based cocktail I tried was the Country Garden Sour, you can choose a range of base spirits for this; so whichever you choose, I’m sure it will go nicely with the home grown herbs and citrus flavours in this cocktail (all of which went perfectly with the bourbon). Incidentally, most of the herbs used by IN Bloom have been grown on site by the bar’s resident herb gardener, 81-year-old Tony Hicks, who is no doubt toiling away AT THIS VERY MOMENT, just so we can drink cocktails.
For those of you that like Porn Star Martinis and sweet cocktails you’ll love the Porn Star Mojito, which includes vanilla, passion fruit, mint and prosecco. A refreshing drink which is perfect for the summer, come day or night. In Bloom provides a perfect place to relax on their terrace and I couldn’t fault any of the drinks I tried, I’ll definitely be returning to try the whole menu again *ahem* just to check on their consistency of course...
- IN Bloom is by the side of The Lawns, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3JE.