1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
GORILLA is housed under the railway arches on Whitworth st West and comprises of a bar, kitchen, live venue and club space from the people behind Trof and the Deaf Institute. On the main drinks list, we have a full menu of cocktails, alongside the best in bottled and canned beers, fine wines and fair-trade coffees. The mezzanine bar hosts our Gin Parlour. The Parlour is stocked with the best gins from around the world; small batch, hand crafted distillations & all the diverse styles we need for our specialist cocktail list. The list has a considered dedication to the martini, its predecessors and derivatives. The gin & tonic also features, with a selection of balanced and refreshing house creations, featuring our house produced buttered gin, and homemade tonic syrup. All of this happens alongside our 600 capacity venue and our award winning food.
Gorilla, the latest venture by the formidable team behind Trof and The Deaf Institute, is undoubtedly a more grown-up affair than their other venues, striking as it does a fine balance between sophisticated and casual. Where else could you enjoy an expertly made gin martini whilst chowing down on a huge, juicy burger?
You’ll certainly find more extensive beer lists around Manchester but what Trof excel in is catering for everyone, whist teetering on the outer edges of the mainstream. You’ll find the usual culprits like Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and the ubiquitous Jaipur by Thornbridge next to more recherché offerings like cans of Maui Big Swell IPA and the Odell 90 shilling. While waiting for Anna to arrive, I choose a bottle of the latter, the Colorado-based brewery’s flagship beer – it’s a rich amber ale with a beautiful balance between sweet malts and a crisp hop finish.
Gorilla also boasts a 600 capacity venue and the Villagers are playing on the night in question. Couple this with £5 cocktails from 5-8pm and the place is heaving, groups scouring the room for a place to perch. We only manage to get a spot by promising to eat! Happily, the turnover of customers is fairly quick and the general hubbub gives the place a great atmosphere as the sounds echo from the arched ceiling.
The gin parlour appears to turn into their main dining area early evening, but subsequent visits inform us this isn’t the case later on. This parlour is what really sets Gorilla apart from other bars in Manchester: the diversity of gins on offer and the innovative cocktail menu make it a perfect place for someone in search of a great Martini, one of the best G&Ts around, or contemporary twists on classic creations.
I order their signature cocktail, the Gin Flip, an unctuous mixture of House Buttered Gin, Smoked Benedictine, Cream, Egg, Sugar and Nutmeg; you’d expect it to be overly rich but in fact, I find that the gin cuts through all the creaminess leaving a well-balanced drink with a beautiful buttery undercurrent. Thankfully, our enthusiastic bartender is only too happy to share the recipe for the buttered gin – there’s plans to recreate at home! Anna opts for the Coconut Tonic, a tropical take on a gin and tonic where the qualities of Koko Kanu and Martin Millers are enhanced by Fentimans Tonic and some Coconut Syrup. It serves to make one curse the listless, raw February weather.
Round two and something to counteract the fat: I order a Gin Martini made with the incomparable Gin Mare, a Spanish version of the spirit with an incredible aroma of Arbequina olives, lemon and ginger. Imagine a very subtle version of a dirty martini without the addition of olive brine. Though it wasn’t listed on the menu, having spotted a bottle on the back bar, I couldn’t resist this complex spirit, and the bartender seems to share my appreciation for this mother’s ruin. Anna goes for another cocktail using the house butter gin, named Buttered Tonic, which adds pineapple juice to give a wonderfully refreshing libation with that unmistakably rich mouth feel.
If you’re adverse to all things gin, then you needn’t fear as Gorilla offer a fine selection of cocktails based on other spirits too. There is definitely more emphasis on short, boozy concoctions such as the Negroni, Sazerac, and Chocolate Manhattan; however, the experienced staff will be able to cater to most people’s cocktail needs should you have any particular preferences. Anna and I, in our tireless devotion to alcohol, end the night with an Espresso Martini and a Vieux Carré. The former, Anna will testify, is the best espresso martini she has had in the city, no doubt down to their use of the exceptional HasBean coffee, which gave it a greater depth. The latter is an intense mix of Bourbon, Cognac, Benedictine, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters – lots of sweet dried fruit notes with a long finish.
Gorilla was for good reason nominated for Best Newcomer at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards: their eclectic club nights, diverse gigs, great food and impressive cocktails make it a gem in the rough at this end of town.