The Black Dog Ballroom has established itself as one of the stars of Manchester’s Northern Quarter since it opened three years ago. Entrepreneur Ross Mackenzie has now extended the “brand” with a second site about 15 minutes’ walk away in the south of the city centre, close to the universities. The three floors of the former premises of Pure Space café-bar on New Wakefield Street, off Oxford Road, have been transformed into a speakeasy bar, diner, pool room, club and roof terrace that all build on the New York-style concept developed over in the Northern Quarter.
The food, using local produce, has been devised by chef Anthony Fielden of the Northern Quarter Restaurant & Bar which is run by Jobe Ferguson, who owns Black Dog Ballroom with Ross. The menu has been designed to capture the flavours and textures of New York, offering pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and salads until 1am (although the venue is open as late as 4am). Breakfast is served from 10am while a permanent barbecue station is located on the top-floor terrace. As with the Northern Quarter site, there is also a private members’ bar which is accessed by customers with a special pin code. In the basement is Underdog, a late-night dance venue that has been fitted out with a £35,000 Funktion One sound system and is available for hire for club promoters.
Under bars manager Stu Baillie, the new Black Dog Ballroom is a destination for cocktails, with a mix of classic-style and contemporary drinks, mostly priced at £6.95. With an emphasis on Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands products, the cocktails include The Floozy, mixing Bombay Sapphire gin with peach and passionfruit, topped up with prosecco, and a Weekend Rockstar, combining Jack Daniel’s, Jägermeister, caramel and cherry bitters. While beers such as Erdinger, Tuborg and San Miguel are on tap, the fridges carry bottles including Vedett, Liefmans, Cusqueña and Manchester’s own brew, Saint.
Again, the new Black Dog Ballroom has been designed by Ross with design company Start JudgeGill. Senior interior designer Jamie O’Donnell says one of their tasks was to reveal the “hidden” features of a building that had a lot of architectural character. “We stripped back the layers to open up the beautiful atrium,” he explains. “Into this, we added a glass and steel staircase that offers a real juxtaposition between old and new. Each floor has a sprinkling of ‘Black Dog features’ to galvanise its identity but we wanted to make sure that each floor had a different feel, which we think has been achieved. The change of pace as you move through the building is really nice, and each floor has its own character.”
After opening in May, the venue is already attracting popular club nights and was also a location for watching Euro 2012 matches. “We have chosen to stake our claim on the Oxford Road area because we can see an untapped wealth of opportunity there for a new style of bar,” Ross explains. “We hope that the students of Manchester will love the New York speakeasy style and quality of food and drink we offer at the Black Dog Ballroom just as much as the Northern Quarter does.”
This is the first major project for Ross and the team since last year’s successful transformation of the former Purple Pussycat in Manchester city centre into tiki haven The Liars Club, headed by mixologist Lyndon Higginson. They are now on the look-out for new sites across the north-west for both The Liars Club and more Black Dog Ballrooms.
Black Dog Ballroom, 11-13 New Wakefield Street, Manchester M1 5NP
Tel: 0161 236 4899 www.blackdogballroom.co.uk
Who did it
Design: Start JudgeGill
Lighting: Tyson Lighting, Ferrious
Furniture: Sixteen3, Ralph Capper
Bar counter: Clarke Gough Interiors
Sound system: Funktion One