Manchester food and drink news for the week commencing Monday 16 November 2015 is as bustling as ever with PLY’s cocktail-drawing contest, Hanging Ditch Wine Fair at Manchester Cathedral, an Italian-inspired Vapiano for the Corn Exchange, the craft beer festival (possibly of the year after Indy Man) at Track and Squawk breweries, plus Sandbar’s legendary winter whiskey and beer festivals.

PLY cocktail contest
It’s out with the life models and bowls of fruit and in with the, well, cocktails, as PLY celebrates the launch of its brand new drinks menu with a boozy illustration contest. Speedy Cocktalez is the latest in a series of events that form part of PLY’s art programme. Ten contestants will battle it out to win a £100 bar tab and HAY products from Fred Aldous. They will have to draw cocktails from the new menu, with three rounds each featuring four of the new drinks, before a final quick-fire bonus round to determines the ultimate champion. Both the professional and amateur creative folk of Manchester can enter, and even some PLY staff will be getting behind the easel to show what they’re made of. To top it all off spectators will be able to get a taste of the action with complimentary cocktails. To register as a contestant for Speedy Cocktalez email
Tue 24 Nov, PLY, 26 Lever Street, Manchester, M1 1DW. Tel: 0161 711 0401, 6pm, FREE to attend, advanced booking require to compete,

Hanging Ditch Wine Fair at Manchester Cathedral
For those of you who love a tipple of the good stuff, this year’s big annual wine extravaganza from Manchester independent wine merchants Hanging Ditch should not be missed. The fair’s eighth outing will focus on showcasing the work of some of Hanging Ditch’s very favourite wine producers from around the world – and, with a huge range of wines to sample and a chance to meet the producers responsible for their creation, it’s going to be an amazing evening in the spectacular setting of Manchester Cathedral. With only 250 tickets available it’s advised to move fast, especially as this year they’re even throwing in a special offer: customers who purchase a case of 12 bottles or more (mixed) on the evening will be able to redeem £25 of the ticket price back off their chosen wines!
Fri 20 Nov, Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX. Tel: 0161 832 8222, 6.30pm, £35,

Vapiano for Manchester Corn Exchange
A further addition to the newly revitalised Corn Exchange is set to open its doors to an eager public next week as Vapiano arrives in Manchester. Its first UK venue outside of London, the German-owned fast-casual Italian restaurant combines fresh, simple and tasty Italian food with German efficiency. In an innovative system, diners order food directly from chefs at individual stations by ‘tapping’ a smart card on a machine then simply pay at the front desk when leaving. The system will certainly be tested to the max as the Manchester branch – boasting 400 covers spread over two floors – is the largest they have attempted. With everything made fresh, sleek modern furnishings, cheap dishes (the most expensive comes in under £10) and an al fresco dining area overlooking Exchange Square, Vapiano could be a big hit.
Opens Fri 27 Nov, Vapiano, Unit 13, Corn Exchange, Manchester, M4 3TR.

Track & Squawk Christmas Brew Tap Extravaganza (pictured)
The first Track & Squawk Christmas Brew Tap Extravaganza will see an independent market take over at Piccadilly Arches. With 20 stalls of local artists/makers peddling their wares, Grub MCR providing food and Track and Squawk breweries providing some of their finest beers on the day, this is one not to be missed. What’s more, the event will also be raising money for local charity Mustard Tree.
Sat 12 Dec, Track Brewery, 5 Sheffield Street, Manchester, M1 2ND. Tel: 0161 273 4832, 12pm – late (stalls 12pm – 6pm), FREE,

Sandbar’s winter whiskey and beer festivals
Grosvenor Street’s Sandbar is to host its very own winter festival this December. Proceedings begin on Wednesday 2 with an informal whiskey-tasting session featuring six Scottish whiskies from the Glen Garioch, Balvenie and Bunnahabhain distilleries (limited to 26 places). Thursday 3 and Friday 4, meanwhile, marks the return of the Craft & Cask Beer Festival, with Sandbar’s cobbled loading bay playing host to four craft kegs and four cask ales, all from our tartan cousins north of the border. To accompany these fine Scotch brews, live music will be provided in the shape of The Kraken Ceilidh Band – a diverse and expansive group of young people striving to bring a dark excitement to the folk-dance circuit.
Wed 2 Dec – Fri 4 Dec, Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, M1 7HL. Tel: 0161 273 1552, Whisky tasting 8pm – late, £28, Beer Festival 5pm – late, FREE entry,

Fri 20 Nov - Sat 12 Dec
Ben Hayward
Published on:
Tue 17 Nov 2015