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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Christmas Comes Early, Part Two: In Bloom Becomes Hibernate and Lock 91 Gets a Visit from Santa

A couple of weeks ago, I had some Port and Stilton at Albert's Chop House, and got myself quite ridiculously giddy as a result - ready to bypass the rest of October and all of November and proceed directly to Christmas. So really, the very last thing I needed was further encouragement in the form of a very festive night out on Friday, firstly at the new Hibernate pop-up bar at Spinningfields and secondly at the Winter Food Party at Lock 91 - a Christmas party in all but name.

First stop, Hibernate, which is not strictly new but is in fact the winter version of In Bloom. I very much liked In Bloom, which had great cocktails, a nice meaty barbecue, an ivy-covered wall decorated with yarn-bomb flowers and a prime summer spot overlooking The Lawns; now the outdoor section has been largely panelled in and filled with heaters and throws so that we may enjoy it here all year round. It's all very cute, and was indeed very snug despite the Manchester monsoon raging outside; even better, it has set down a marker for future years that mulled wine is perfectly acceptable in October. My first impression is that I'm not quite as keen on Hibernate as In Bloom, but then it's not entirely fair to make this judgement on the back of a flying visit on launch night, so I will be a true professional and go back another time so that I may review it more objectively.

Next stop, Lock 91, a place about which I have heard good things but have never previously visited due to my general aversion to most of the bars along Deansgate Locks. I knew there was to be food on the terrace but hadn't expected a full-on Christmas party - we sat on the sofas in the downstairs grandma parlour and watched Elf on the big screen, and listened to Mariah Carey, and ate strudel, and sampled the delicious new Christmas cocktails (my favourite being the Christmas Pud), and wore reindeer antlers upon our heads. We received a visit first from some carol singers and then from Santa himself, surprised to find himself working so early in the year no doubt, but lugging his traditional, erm, bin bag of presents all the same. I sat on his lap and pretended to have been good this year and was given a selection box as my reward - in fact, it was all too much excitement for one night. I'm not sure a night out at Lock 91 could ever be as much fun again, but I will definitely be back to find out in the near future - and if it was you who had to sit next to the carol-singing girl wearing reindeer antlers on the Didsbury tram round about midnight - well, you know who to blame now...