Review: Cocktail Hour @ All Star Lanes, Great Northern Square, Manchester

By Danielle Wainwright

The Great Northern Square really is living up to its name housing some of Manchester’s trendiest bars and restaurants such as Vega Lounge, Almost Famous pop up bar and All Star Lanes.

Not your average ten pin alley, All Star Lanes can only be described as bowling with a touch of class, with stunning art deco surroundings, luxurious leather couches and wonderful Molton Brown hand wash in the bathroom.

And MM are big fans, as their delicious cuisine and VIP bowling proved a hit in our previous reviews you can view here, but this time it is their new cocktail hour between 4pm and 7pm Monday to Friday, offering two for one on six fantastic delights that has brought us back.

A warm welcome greeted us by restaurant Manager Rachel Bottomley, 29, who assured us that we were in good hands with master cocktail connoisseur Kastriot Ujlcaj, 33.

‘Kas’ described each cocktail with great gusto and enthusiasm, delivering very simple but utterly delicious creations.

Not only were we blown away with the drinks, but impressed by the knowledge, passion and above and beyond service of both ‘Kas’ and his fellow bartender 23-year-old Dominique Carroll.

Excited with the impressive choice of two for one cocktail, we embarked on each and every creation offered to us, sure to please every alcoholic preference.

Aloha Jar – 42below Passion Fruit, Orgeat syrup, lime and pineapple juice.

The drink that comes…in a jar? The first cocktail of the evening was shaken, stirred and presented in a cute little container complimenting the beautiful weather outside and boy did it go down easy!

Perfect for small drinkers who dislike the strong face-gurning kick that stronger cocktails may bring, as the alcohol was masked by the delightful tropic mix of passion fruit and pineapple.

Derby Royal – Jack Daniel’s No.7, vanilla, mint and lemon Juice topped with Prosecco.

Not a fan of whisky-based cocktails? This minty treat is a twist on your average bitter and sour drink.

Packed with mint leaves and vanilla to prevent the whisky overpowering the taste, each ingredient has been clearly thought through to ensure each flavour is balanced.

Usually thought of as a masculine drink, this whisky cocktail has enough girly ingredients to rival The Cosmopolitan, yet not so effeminate to blokes reaching for a lager instead.

Raspberry Bramble – Bombay Sapphire, raspberry puree and lemon juice.

They say that gin can turn any mortal mean with the very appropriate nickname ‘mother’s ruin.’

Even then I was drawn to this cocktail, not just because it was so tantalisingly red I was imagining the colour for my new lipstick, but because the raspberry puree packed such a fruity punch it could be smelt before my lips touched the glass.

The puree neutralised the strength of the gin, and tasted more like a delicious fruit juice rather than the hangover-inflicting cocktail it turned out to be.

This cocktail is a winner when it comes to fresh and fruity and rivalled the Aloha Jar for perfect summer drink.

Moscow Mule – Finlandia, house-made ginger syrup and ginger beer

Presented in a glass tankard, one sip of this proved to be deadly as I wolfed down every last gingery drop.

My favourite thus far, any fan of Hollows or Crabbies will absolutely love this, it is a unique blend of vodka and ginger and it works in every single way.

I envision men and women drinking this androgynous cocktail together, clinking their tankards and praising whoever thought up this delightful bevvy blend.

Caucasian – Finlandia and Kahlua stirred with cream

Described as ‘a twist on the White Russian,’ creamy-based cocktails are a winner in my books and fresh ingredients are only good enough for the Caucasian.

Slightly whipped cream settles on top of the Kahlua and Finlandia creating an alcohol vs. dairy battle, just make sure you drink this through a straw otherwise you will be met with a mouth full of cream.

Do not attempt this high-calorie drink if slimming down for the summer as one is enough to bring on the dreaded sickly feeling that comes with rich cocktails such as this.

Lagerita – El Jimador Blanco, fresh lime and Agave syrup topped with Coors light beer

Last but not least, the barman’s favourite Lagerita mixing Tequila and lager with sour fruit to create the strongest alcohol tasting cocktail on the menu.

Any fan of sour drinks will love this and no tequila based lager will compare to this cocktail as the tequila used was not so much a Saturday night boozy shot, it was much more fragrant and lighter than your average cheap holiday brand.  

We were invited to try a cocktail off the main menu and after quite a while of flicking through the many pages of blended beauties we settle on two very popular drinks.

Sadly I must tell you that the next two cocktails are not available on the cocktail hour menu.

  DRINK DELIGHTS: A selection of drinks on offer

Honeypot – Evan Williams Honey Whiskey, apple juice, house-made ginger syrup and bitters

Another jar made cocktail and garnished with a very simple fan of green apples, sugar fans will love this very spiced flavour.

Not recommended for those who dislike ginger, this cocktail left a spicy taste in my mouth for the rest of the night, yet it was so beautifully smooth, each ingredient made a taste appearance without overpowering the other.

SoCal Sour – Jack Daniel’s and Amaretto shaken with lemon and cranberry juice

“Give me a drink with lots of amaretto.” I asked, only to be handed a baby pink mix of almond…and whisky?

It was a strange twist to the classic amaretto sour and did mix well together, but unfortunately, the amaretto was very faint as the whisky punched its way throughout the cocktail, leaving a flat taste to this slightly disappointing drink.

But seven out of eight ain’t bad. Sing about that, Meat Loaf.

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