The beauty of a cocktail bar is that the whole elaborate drinks process happens in front of you. There’s etiquette in ‘mixology’ which requires a cool hand and assured craftsmanship. The senses are aroused first by a scoop of ice cubes rattling into an opaquely chilled glass. Eyes on the bartender’s swift movement and nifty pouring of spirits and liqueurs, and nose twitches to the aroma of fresh fruit juice as it is sloshed into the mix. Then, shaken vigorously, even loudly, now ice-cold the concoction is sieved to separate ice from cocktail. Finally served with artistic flourish into a specific glass with either a delicate curlicue of citrus peel, some crushed ice and a sugared rim or a possibly a garnish of fresh mint, salty olives or sweet berries as dictated by recipe or the creator’s personal twist. Extra molecular aromas may be added with spices or simply by zesting a lemon over the glass.
The process can seem complex but it is certain to delight. “However the real skill is in being able to make to order something that will please the customer’s personal taste and putting in it your own twist,” Adam Freeth, founder of ‘Shaker UK’ explains that the very intricate art of mixing cocktails “is really just cooking with alcohol. Fresh ingredients are essential, lots of ice and a particular formula with basic recipes and classic cocktails.”
‘Shaker’ are nationally renowned ‘mixologists’ and bar consultants who run cocktail mixing courses. Adam asked me what spirits I like to drink and from my admission of ‘Mother’s ruin’ and a liking for raspberries he mixed me the most deliciously agreeable combination of gin, crushed berries, elderflower liqueur, soda water and lots of crushed ice. It put me in a very happy mood and potentially might have had me saying ‘yes’ to just about anything.
After six weeks under wraps at the start of the year, the ever-popular Mannings Bar & Restaurant, run by a dynamic mother and daughter team, Lynn and Nicky Manning, on Lemon Street in Truro was revamped with a bright, welcoming and cosmopolitan new look. “We worked with Falmouth based, Absolute Design for the refurbishment, who really understood our brief, “ says Nicky,” We wanted to create a place that was fresh and contemporary that would appeal broadly to clientele ranging from 25 to 75, but most importantly not scare away our loyal customers.” The result is an open, flowing space and a small champagne room bedecked in cool classic colours and timeless furniture.
The Mannings bar is now set to become a destination cocktail bar for Cornwall. Lynn and Nicky contracted ‘Shaker’ to design the bar and deliver in-depth training to the Mannings team. One look at the Shaker’s vast cocktail manual I can see this is no simple course but about as in depth as a university degree. With some embarrassment, it seems, that when it comes to classy drinking I’ve been about as sophisticated as a Babycham.
Mannings is now beautiful and elegant and feels twice the size of its previous incarnation. The menu hasn’t changed, which will please regular diners, “Why change for the sake of it when we already knew what our customers most liked?” suggests Nicky. Keeping with the cosmopolitan feel, the new look Mannings is open from early in the morning for breakfast and brunch and then will be serving food all afternoon and evening long. As ever, a range of crisp international beers and an extensive and varied selection of wines will always be on offer.
“For some time now, Truro has been in need of something seriously chic,” tells Nicky. “The bar is now a lovely relaxing place where people can just go for a drink without feeling obliged to have a meal.” I’d definitely recommend it to my friends as a great ‘ladies’ venue for drinks and conversation. I’m pretty certain, with a heavy hint, that the extensive cocktail menu with a signature ‘Mannings Magic’ is a perfect place to impress a girlfriend on a date.
For more information:
Mannings Hotel, Bar & Restaurant Tel: 01872 247900 or visit www.manningshotels.co.uk