Three years on from its opening under the Grade-II listed railway archways in central Manchester, Manchester Gin’s bar and restaurant is very much settling into its surroundings.
As sleek and stylish as ever, it has recently introduced a new signature cocktail menu – the third in as many years – celebrating the processes behind its spirit-making operation next door at The Spirit of Manchester Distillery with a 16-strong drinks list.
No longer content with just making gin, the team has branched out to explore the worlds of rum, vodka, vermouth and even absinthe – the famous ‘naughty water’ beloved by artists like Picasso, Gaudi, Hemingway and Dali.
Its new Bar & Drinks Development Manager, Daniel Clarke, has put together a new menu ‘Ground to Glass’ to showcase all of these new creations, whilst in the kitchen Head Chef Karl Kivell is busy crafting fresh, flavourful small plates – all thoughtfully developed to complement the cocktails on offer.
From a hearty Italian-inspired sausage roll served with mustard-yellow apple ketchup to beef skirt marinated in the house-made spiced One-Eyed Rebel Rum, Karl had certainly had some fun with the food menu.
Whipped cheese with radishes, beer-battered fish with shoestring fries and curry sauce and prawns in a rich and spicy tomato ‘nduja sauce all make for pleasant table-fillers as you tuck into the impressive cocktails.
Elsewhere, an anchovy and heirloom tomato salad is prepared with Manchester Gin Wild Spirit, whilst on the dessert menu sweet tooths will find a Manchester Raspberry Infused Millefeuille, giving another boozy hit to the food menu here.
As for the drinks, hero cocktails include ‘For Miso Sake’, an Asian-inspired cocktail featuring Manchester Gin Wild Spirit, red pepper, plum saké, jasmine and miso, served in a glass inside a traditional Japanese Masu Box, and the striking ‘Under Pressure’, a smoky delight with Manchester Gin Raspberry Infused, watermelon infused Aperol, mint, lime distillate and apple, topped with a show-stopping bubble made from citrus.
Having recently won the Team of the Year at the Top 50 Cocktail Bar Awards, the venue is “really pushing” themselves, says Jen Wiggins, owner at Three Little Words and co-founder of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery.
“In this menu, we wanted to hone in on the countless fascinating processes that take place to turn grains and plants into the spirits and drinks that we all love. Every day in our distillery we work with these processes from distilling, extracting, infusing and macerating.
“We’ve taken 16 of these processes and harnessed them to inspire the cocktails and some of their ingredients on this menu, but it’s not style over substance – we’ve ensured that each cocktail has a place on the menu.
“In addition to our new cocktail menu, our new food menu perfectly pairs up with our enticing drinks offering, with several dishes incorporating our very own inhouse tipples into the recipe – making the menus a true match made in heaven.”
To see the full menu and book a table, visit the Three Little Words website here.
Feature image – Three Little Words
The Blanket March: How thousands of Manchester weavers fought for the textile industry
You’ve heard of the Peterloo Massacre, right?
This historic event – which took place on St Peter’s Field in Manchester in 1819, and saw sword-wielding horsemen charge into a large crowd to disperse a non-violent demonstration demanding to reform parliament, ultimately killing 18 people – is well-known among Mancunians, and has been the subject of many a book and film over the years.
But what about the events leading up to the Peterloo Massacre?
Ever heard of another peaceful protest that took place on the same St Peter’s Field only two years before, and also ended in violence and arrests?
This is the story of the ‘Blanket March’.
What was the ‘Blanket March’?
In a nutshell, the ‘Blanket March’ or ‘March of the Blanketeers’ was a demonstration organised by the Manchester Radicals on 10th March 1817 with the intention being for the participants – who were mainly Lancashire weavers – to march to London and petition the Prince Regent over the desperate state of the textile industry in the region, and to protest over the recent suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act.
The Habeas Corpus Act previously ensured that no one could be imprisoned unlawfully.
Although fully intended to be a peaceful protest, this so-called ‘Blanket March’ was broken up violently and the leaders of the march imprisoned.
What happened in the lead-up?
After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, England was immediately plunged into economic hardship and the industrial textile towns of the North saw wages fall sharply as the factory system took hold, with traditional handloom weavers being some of the worst affected.
Weavers – who could have expected to earn 15 shillings a week in 1803 – saw their wages dramatically cut by two thirds or more.
If that wasn’t bad enough, then came the Corn Laws of 1815.
The Corn Laws – which were originally intended to protect British agricultural workers from cheap foreign imports – actually ended up causing an increase in grain prices and a decrease in supplies, only adding to the poor’s woes, and then these hardships were further compounded by poor harvests the following year, which resulted in food shortages during the winter of 1816-1817 and the year being dubbed the “Year without a summer”.
With no way for the ordinary people to make their voice heard – no vote, public meetings banned, unions illegal, the press censored, and the authorities even using paid informers and spies to rat on anyone who tried to organise a protest – the discontent continued and lead to riots, as Lord Liverpool’s government faced growing demands for social, political and economic reform.
Meanwhile, in Manchester, a spirit of new radicalism was dawning.
Initially inspired by the writings of Thomas Paine and the French Revolution, political discussion – which at one time was confined to London coffee houses – had been taken up by the labouring classes. Although the Napoleonic Wars put a dampener on radicalism for a period, the economic depression following the defeat of Napoleon and growing discontent with the political system caused this new radical movement to appear, and for the first time, the North – more specifically Manchester and South Lancashire – was a hotbed of political activism amongst the working people.
With considerable input from Northern Radicals, a Reform Bill for universal suffrage was drafted and presented to the House of Commons in January 1817 by Thomas Cochrane.
But when this was rejected on procedural grounds, the Prince Regent’s coach was attacked on his way back from parliament, and this, combined with the fallout from the Spa Fields Riots the previous November, caused the government to embark upon a number of measures to repress the radicals, including the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act.
So, in early in March 1817, advocated by two prominent Manchester radicals, Samuel Drummond and John Bagguley, a ‘hunger-march’ to London was organised.
Designed as a way of drawing attention to the problems of the Lancashire cotton workers, it was proposed that weavers and spinners would march in groups of ten – as a way of avoiding any accusation of mass assembly – each with a blanket on their back and a petition to the Prince Regent fastened to their arm.
“We will let them see it is not riot and disturbance we want. It is bread we want. And we will apply to our noble Prince as a child would to its Father for bread.”
As well as keeping them warm at night, the blanket would indicate that they were textile workers.
What happened at the march?
The organisers aimed for 100,000 marchers by the time they reached the capital and although that was the target, it was sadly not met, but still, on 10th March 1817, around 5,000 marchers – mostly spinners and weavers – convened in St Peter’s Field.
Reports claim that there was also a large crowd of onlookers, perhaps as many as 25,000 people in total.
Despite all the efforts by the Blanketeers to show that they were peaceful though, the local magistrates ordered the Riot Act – which told protestors to go home of face arrest – to be read out in public, and the King’s Dragoon Guards broke up the meeting and arrested 27 people, including Drummond and Bagguley, throwing the demonstration into disarray.
Nevertheless, several hundred men set off in the drizzling rain, but the cavalry pursued and attacked them, meaning hardly any got further than Macclesfield and most no further than the River Mersey at Stockport, with many marchers choosing to either scatter or drop out, or were instead taken into custody by police and yeomanry.
The majority were turned back or arrested under vagrancy laws before they reached Derbyshire, and in Stockport, over two hundred marchers were arrested and several wounded, but with the gaols full, the authorities had nowhere for them and simply sent them home.
Fearing arrest, most marchers now dropped out.
There were stories, although unconfirmed, that just one marcher – variously named as “Abel Couldwell” or “Jonathan Cowgill” – reached London and handed over his petition.
Of the demonstrators who were arrested, many were released – often without trial – after spending varying amounts of time in prison, an although this protest fizzled out, the pattern of discontent, radicalism and insurrection in Manchester created a fear of revolution amongst the ruling classes.
The government also clamped down on press comment and radical writing.
It had already passed the Power of Imprisonment Bill in February 1817 and the Seditious Meetings Act in March of that year as a direct response to the ‘Blanket March’, and on 12th May, Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth circulated instructions to the Lords Lieutenant that magistrates could use their own judgement on what constituted “seditious or blasphemous libel” and could arrest and bail anyone caught selling it.
The Six Acts – legislation aimed at suppressing meetings for the purpose of radical reform, which followed the Peterloo Massacre – would also include further restrictions designed to limit the freedom of the press.
The ‘Blanket March’ and the subsequent conspiracy alarms led the Manchester magistrates to form the short-lived Manchester and Salford Yeomanry cavalry, which was intended to combat any future attempts at insurrection.
It became infamous two years later for its role in the Peterloo Massacre.
You can rent an entire pub with your mates for an overnight stay
Did you know that there’s a pub in the Peak District that’s been converted into a beautiful house you can rent out with your mates for the night?
The Poachers Arms is now a top-quality country house – but thankfully, the original working bar, complete with beer taps, survived its makeover.
The beautiful spot is in the village of Hope in the Hope Valley and has space for up to 30 guests across nine ensuite bedrooms.
It’s been kitted out with fibre broadband, a modern kitchen, a huge dining area and loads of entertainment, including 14 televisions, a table football table, and a pool table.
We all know that the walk home from the pub can sometimes feel like the longest mission ever, but at least if you book out The Poachers Arms there’s only ever a flight of stairs between the bar and your bed.
The building’s owners can supply you with barrels of beer, lager and cider at cost price – and can even supply you with bartenders for an extra cost.
Outside, you could also relax around the charcoal barbecue or soak in the outdoor hot tub, while little ones run around in the secure children’s play area or play table tennis.
As this is the Peak District, one of the world’s best beauty spots that’s a haven for outdoorsy types, The Poachers Arms also includes a secure, lockable shed where you can stash your outdoor equipment and bikes.
There’s space for up to 25 cars on the driveway, but you can also get a train straight from Piccadilly to Hope.
Hope itself is one of the prettiest villages in the north of England, full of cafes, pubs and shops, and isn’t far from the popular village of Castleton.