All Star Lanes, Manchester

all star lanes barThe first bowling alley outside London for All Star Lanes brings with it a destination cocktail bar

The new All Star Lanes in Manchester has eight bowling lanes but you don’t need to bowl to have a good time. While its first four venues, all in London, include cocktail bars, this is the first time that the bar has been given such a prominent role. “We are trying to break the mould by putting ourselves out there as a destination bar and restaurant in its own right,” says general manager Angus Pride.

The main bar is by the entrance of the 18,000 sq ft venue, set in a tall vaulted space with riveted steel columns and arches of exposed brick. The island bar serves customers on three sides, with the back counter acting as a dispense bar for the restaurant and bowling lanes as well as the milkshake and coffee-making area. Because of the limited back-bar space, there is high-level shelving and hangers for stemware, supported by a structural beam that has been designed to throw light on the glassware and bar top below.

The look of the venue, part of the Great Northern development on Deansgate, is the work of architect and designer Dan Evans who also created All Star Lanes in Brick Lane, Bayswater, Westfield Stratford City and Holborn. “We have continued the Americana theme that runs through All Star Lanes but with a slightly more industrial edge to reflect the building which is an old railway goods depot,” he explains. “Therefore, things are maybe a bit more ‘East Coast’ than the last site at Westfield Stratford City. Chequerboard ceramic tiling was used throughout the bar which helps to give a heritage feel. Our usual horseshoe banquettes down the side of the bar were added, this time with higher tables to encourage bar dining.”

There is also a small cocktail bar in the private Jungle Room, which can cater for up to 80 guests with large comfortable booth seating, its own bowling lanes and karaoke. While the main bar references New York corner bars and brasseries, Dan says the Jungle Room “mixes it up a bit” with a look that combines tiki with a tribute to iconic 1950s American pin-up Bettie Page. Future plans include the creation of an outside terrace.

In the main bar, a cabinet has been built to house the large collection of American whiskeys that All Star Lanes is famous for. There are about 30 different whiskeys including the rare Harrison Rye which dates back to about 1863 and is believed to have aged in oak barrels for 50 years. It costs £100 per 25ml measure, which also earns you your name engraved in a whiskey hall of fame and an All Star Lanes whiskey tumbler as a souvenir. “Each All Star lanes holds only 24 measures of this rare rye and when it’s gone it will be gone forever,” Angus says. A dedicated 20-capacity Whiskey Room is due to be launched next to the bar, offering masterclasses and tastings.

As with all the bars, there is a top-quality cocktail menu, developed by group bar manager James “Dub Dub” Wynn-Williams. The bar team also have a strong cocktail background with Angus and bar manager Alex McNeil joining from Living Ventures. The cocktail list is a refined version of the ones in London, with an emphasis on “classic bartending without any frills”, Angus says.

Drinks include the Burnt Inheritance, based on the Old Money cocktail from Chicago and made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Aperol, walnut liqueur, pimento dram and Angostura Bitters, all smoked with oak wood chips and served with hand-cut ice. Signature cocktails include the Roller Girl combining Finlandia vodka, pomegranate juice, lemon juice and bubblegum syrup.

The bar has a good selection of specialist beers including Blue Moon and Samuel Adams Boston Lager on tap and American imports such as Dixie, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Goose Island Honkers, Flying Dog and the Belgian-style Brooklyn Local 2 in bottles. As in the restaurant, American flavours influence the bar snacks menu from burgers, ribs and sweet potato fries to Mac & Cheese Croquettes.

Open until midnight, and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, All Star Lanes has been welcomed as a unique addition to Manchester’s cocktail scene as well as a fun and funky bowling alley. “People are starting to become aware that they can just pop in for a drink,” Angus says.

All Star Lanes, The Great Northern, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN Tel: 0161 871 3600

all star lanes manchester

Who did it
Design/Architect: Dan Evans
Main contractor: Interior Service
Electrical: J&L Electrics
Mechanical: Midland Ventilation
Under-bar: Concept Bars
Furniture: Hill Cross Furniture
Bowling equipment: Bowltech
Kitchens: Carford

Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Bar magazine.

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