Manchester’s new cocktail and coffee joint, Roc & Rye, has been designed by long serving local bar expert, Sean Finnegan. Having successfully launched Sugar Lounge on Deansgate Locks nearly 18 years ago, Finnegan has gone on to work at leading Manchester bars like Bluu and Kosmonaut – but Roc & Rye is his own baby. Inspired by the trend for day-to-night bars (such as New York’s Dante and Bar Termini in Soho), Roc & Rye is open from 7am until 3am most days. Highlights include a wall-sized display of whiskeys from around the world, taking in Irish, Scottish, Japanese, rye, Bourbon and more, alongside specially blended coffees from Cornwall’s Origin roasters and cakes by authentic French patisserie, Bisous Bisous. In terms of cocktails, it’s just classics for now – Mai Tai, Old Fashioned, caipirinha and so on – with the ‘real’ cocktail menu launched at the start of August. Each section of the menu will be based around a different stage in a relationship, with drinks themed around feelings and emotions such as infatuation and tempestuousness. I try the whiskey-based ‘Lost at Sea’, which comes in a bottle with a tiny ship floating inside, perched on a wedge of bourbon barrel. Taking in homemade cherry shrub, smoky mezcal, grapefruit liqueur and much more, it’s served in a fog of smoke which slowly clears, like the settling of emotions after a lovers’ tiff. There is a lot going on here, but Finnegan knows what he’s doing  – and the house negroni (Dolin, Campari, Star of Bombay) is excellent. Elsewhere there’s an Albarino from New Zealand and honey-rich golden Guyanese (El Dorado 12-y-o) rum. Located opposite Hotel Gotham and Rosso, the reclaimed floorboards, handmade, 1950s style furnishings and subtle chandeliers lend Roc & Rye the pizzazz to attract a flashy crowd. Yet there’s something about the place that feels classy. It’s early days, but my guess is that it’s a grower.

Roc & Rye, 60 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 2BQ. Tel: 0161 414 0057.

Fri 14 Jul
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Sun 16 Jul 2017