Underhype and overdeliver – that could well be the mantra at Mecanica, the new (ish) Northern Quarter cocktail bar on Swan Street.
Boasting the likes of Phillip Aldridge (formerly of Manchester’s only Michelin starred restaurant Mana), alongside skilled bartenders from institutions like Dusk Til Pawn, Australasia, and London Cocktail Club, it’s already getting some serious recognition amongst Manchester’s industry crowd – as well it should.
Quietly opened in August to replace Alphabet Brewing Co‘s short-lived cocktail and wine venture The Quick Brown Fox, the swanky new drinking den is all amethyst hues and brushed velvet – giving the whole place a sort of sultry, up-to-no-good swagger that really comes into its own under the cover of darkness.
Reminiscent of a sexily-lit hotel bar, it feels like the sort of place saucy swines might go to conduct an affair with a lover. The only thing missing, in fact, is a room upstairs.
We jest, but it’s not far off the mark. The hotel theme is a deliberate one, carrying through to the menu – a collection of elegantly assembled cocktails that draw inspiration from famous hotel rooms, both real and fictional.
From ‘Coco Chanel Suite’, which echoes the legendary fashion designer’s famous diet of champagne and caviar (and even includes a spritz of no. 5); to ‘Fear and Loathing’, served as two separate drinks you are encouraged to enjoy apart before blending together, the execution at Mecanica is just as impeccable as its concepts.
In ‘Fear and Loathing’, cuttlefish ink in a coupette delivers the ‘fear’ element, whilst gooseberry-led aperitif Sipello merges with grapefruit to provide a shot of ‘loathing’ – mirroring that famous scene in which Thompson’s characters find themselves holed up sipping mezcal and Singapore Slings.
Described as a ‘drink of two parts’, whilst you’re told to enjoy it however you please we enquire how the bartender would recommend it drunk and are told to first sip them separately, then together, for maximum effect.
Elsewhere on the menu, cleverly concocted drinks reference Wes Anderson’s 2017 short Hotel Chavelier, John and Yoko’s infamous Montreal ‘bed in’, and Tennessee Williams 1961 play Night of the Iguana – in which an alcoholic tour guide spirals out of control in a night of pure debauchery at a Mexican hotel in Puerto Vallarta.
Mood lamps on each table, meanwhile, use a colour-coded system for service: with the green meaning ‘go’, blue meaning ‘content’ and red meaning ‘bill, please’ – so at the touch of a button, smart, well-informed bartenders appeared out of nowhere to tell you in minute detail the inspiration behind each drink. A genius touch.
Given that this particular quarter of Manchester is teeming with shouty concept bars, each clamouring for its own identity but pouring a near-identical list of party drinks, Mecanica offers a refreshing break from the norm.
Sleek, stylish and oh-so-sexy, it’s doing a bang-up job of honouring some of the capital’s top hotel bars whilst bringing something new and exciting to shake up the old Northern Quarter format of days gone by.
A must for any self-respecting Mancunian cocktail lover, it’s bringiing something new to the Northern Quarter – and we’re absolutely here for it.
Feature image – Mecanica