El Capo

El Capo bar Manchester

The newest opening in town, El Capo comes with a high pedigree: Peter Skelton, former manager of next door’s Whiskey Jar, is behind this authentic South American bar.

You want tequila? There are 70 to choose from here. Want to mix it up? Try one of the 21 craft cocktails. If you want to play it safe, go for the Classic Margarita. Make no mistake this is the buzzy new kid on the block, and that block is fast becoming the coolest hangout in Manchester with hipster spot Kosmonaught right next door.

Street art painted directly onto the bare brick walls and a soon to be revealed Latino-style tapas menu complete one of the most exciting venue openings of the year.

Best Bars tip: Look out for Margarita Monday. We love cocktails even more when they are just £5 all night.

— Bacon on the Beech

El Capo bar Manchester


Under New Management

Under New Management Corridor Bar Manchester
Carl Sukonik | http://www.thevain.co.uk

A gem on the Manchester scene, Under New Management (previously Corridor Bar) is a firm favourite of the drinks industry … so you’re in for a boozy treat. This dark party spot is tucked down an alley oh so slightly off the beaten track, but it’s more than worth the extra footsteps.

Behind the stick you’ve got some seriously talented folks, so expect an extremely thoughtful menu. It changes every few months, and we were lucky enough to try the Caribbean Flavas a straight up rummy drink made with a house jerk syrup, which is a bit spicy and a bit sweet. One of the house favourites is the Genever Convention, a cleverly named gin-based number that is served with a drowning toy soldier.

If you’ve got a bigger group, there are plenty of booths to park up at. But if you want a bit of cocktail education, grab an elbow at the bar and let the studies commence. For those looking to impress and show you’re in the know”, then this hideaway jewel is just the ticket.

Best Bars tip: The bar team has been hard at work building some outside tables for sunny weather, so get drinking — alfresco style (when the sun permits). Oh and on weekends the bar is open until 4am. Can you keep up?

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Under New Management Corridor Bar Manchester
Carl Sukonik | http://www.thevain.co.uk

5CC (under Harrild and Sons)

5cc farringdon bar interiorThe third venue from 5CC is its biggest (and whiskiest) yet. Tucked below shiny City pub Harrild and Sons you’ll find a much more dark and intimate space, with plenty of nooks and crannies to get to know your date — just keep it PG pals.

If you’re a whisky lover with cash to splash, then look no further than the Whisky Porn section of the menu (not a joke). This small selection of premium spirits will delight your palate, but may hurt your wallet. The cocktails mainly stick to the theme, like their sweet rye-based Broken Limb. But a few other spirituous delights creep in as well — try the Invisible Mojito for a light and bubbly rum concoction. Food stays mostly on the bun, with stars like the lobster roll or the duck burger with tobacco onions — definitely worth a taste.

This is a genuine gem in the City, so expect a good whack of the after-work crowd with a spattering of suits around the glistening copper bar.

Best bars tip: They love their craft elements here with lots’o house-made syrups, juices and the like. We even got to taste their in-house Falernum made with Wray & Nephew rum — yum. 

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

5cc farringdon bar interior

Made in the Shade

made in the shade hoxton

*Made in the Shade has closed its doors.*

Housed in an old Hoxton boozer, Made in the Shade manages to make a new bar feel like it’s been around forever. With dark wood features and old signage hanging about, it’s the kind of place you’d be proud to call your local — and boasts all the skills without the pretence.

The talented folks behind the stick — Jeremy Thompson Jewitt, Jim Wrigley and Peter Lewis — are using hand-cut ice to take drinks to a higher level, and one of the delights from the menu is the UFC (Ultimate F***ing Cocktail). It’s an on-the-rock whiskey, rum and Kamm & Sons concoction, stirred down with Guinness Foreign Extra Syrup — oh and there’s a mini UFC fighter for your garnish. Drinks start at £8.50, and if you want a softer tipple try The Pink One with vodka, fresh pomegranate and apple juice — served long and pretty.

The kitchen isn’t one to miss with BBC celebrity chef Patrick Williams cooking up a Carribbean-style feast. From goat curry to rice pudding arancini, there’s plenty to keep you fed and happy.

Best Bars tip: There’s a games room upstairs and a garden out back, so get ready to play pals.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

made in the shade hoxton

Caravan King’s Cross

Caravan Kings Cross restaurant bar

Perched on the surprisingly pretty Granary Square, Caravan‘s warehouse space manages to strike that right balance between intimate and industrial. With cushioned booths, bar stools and an alfresco patio looking out onto the square’s dancing fountains – there are plenty of places to perch for any kind of company: from after-work drinks with colleagues to boozy brunches with your besties. Despite sharing a site with Central Saint Martins, the crowd here is a healthy mix of young professionals and families with merely a dose of artsy students.

The nibbles are sensational and this is by and far one of the best brunches in town (keep in mind, there’s a hearty wait for a table on weekends). I mean, how can you resist jalapeno corn bread topped with fried eggs or zesty baked eggs with a tomato pepper ragout? Plus there is now a Bloody Mary bar to boot. And for those wanting a caffeine kick, the in-house roastery delivers superbly rich and tasty coffee. Then the all-day menu does a strong show of small plates, with offerings like deep-fried duck egg atop baba ganoush, or daily specials like a Fino sherry-braised pork cheek.

While the focus here is on food, you’d be remiss not to try one of the bar’s specialities: booze on tap and house infusions. A glass of Negroni or prosecco can arrive in your hands near instantly, and there’s the original infusion of Saffron & Orange Bittersweet Spirit served on the rocks. For a sweeter variation on a rye cocktail classic, try the Salted Caramel Sazerac.

Best Bars tip: The terrace is nothing short of magical in the warmer months, so snag a seat and park up for the day – keep hunger at bay with sharing plates, make your way through the short cocktail menu and watch the sunset as the fountains start the light show.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

granary square fountains

Dirty Bones

Dirty Bones KensingtonDirty Bones is the latest gem to pop up in west London, an area that has been left somewhat wanting for hip late-night hangouts in the past. But that is no longer the case: this hot dog-centric spot will be serving up cocktails and dinner from 6pm.

Just slip through the secret door in their kiosk on Kensington Church Street (where you can grab Classic Yankee dogs earlier in the day) and head downstairs into a seventies underground haven – the quirky interiors courtesy of British designer Lee Broom.

Tapping into the Americana trend, this one has a bit of extra cachet as ex-Fat Duck chef Ross Clarke developed the concept as well as the menu. Think international-inspired hot dogs like the Asian with kimchi relish, crispy seaweed and wasabi mayo, or “Bones” dishes like fried chicken in a spicy coating. For a fresh and fruity cocktail, try the Top Dog with Finlandia vodka, Chambord, strawberries, lemon and prosecco; or if you’re looking for a classic then order the Dirty Bones Martini with olive oil-washed Tanqueray, Lillet Blanc and olives. For some smoky yet sweet business, try the Mutt’s Nuts cocktail with Woodford Reserve, cinnamon and vanilla-infused maple syrup and Angostura bitters.

Best Bars tip: This place is more conducive to seated imbibing rather than dirty dancing, but the drinks are stellar and the atmosphere is chatty and friendly – so have no doubt this one will be a nightlife staple for the long run.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSipsDirty Bones interior Kensington

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

hawksmoor spitalfields bar london

This Spitalfields drinking den feels of a different class than some of its flannel-donning brethren in neighbouring Shoreditch, and it’s got your whole night wrapped up in one burnished brass-covered package.

The cocktails are the stars of this underground Hawksmoor show, so don’t expect the famous steaks down here – that’s strictly upstairs business. For those looking to satisfy their sweet urge, try the Nuclear Banana Daiquiri … it’s guilty pleasure defined. Careful though, that overproof rum can knock you sideways. If you’re of the classics persuasion, test drive the Full Fat Old Fashioned – think Don Draper, with a bigger waistline.

You won’t struggle to line your stomach here, with menu highlights like the Pig’s Head Poutine (a Canadian delicacy … or cheese fries, as some may call them), the Ox Cheek French Dip, and the finger-licking Seoul Ribs for a fiver, which are a must.

Best Bars tip: Desert Island Drinks launch the first Tuesday of every month, and you can get any one of them with a sandwich for £15.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar London