Hidden treasures: Berry & Rye, Jenny’s and Some Place, Liverpool

Berry & Rye Liverpool

Mark Ludmon explores the speakeasy style of Liverpool’s Berry & Rye, Jenny’s and Some Place

Change is afoot on Liverpool’s bar scene – so long as you know where to find it. Over the past five years, the city’s cocktail culture has been making its mark thanks to independent bars such as Alma de Cuba and Mojo, mostly clustered around the Ropewalks area in the south of the city centre. Four years ago, Liverpudlians embraced their first tiki bar, Aloha, serving up top-quality drinks from Zombies to Piña Coladas in hollowed-out pineapples. Part of the team behind this Polynesian oasis in Colquitt Street is Danny Murphy who was previously head bartender at the Met Bar in London as well as working in Liverpool at The Living Room and Alma de Cuba, where he was bar manager.

After Aloha, Danny and his partners have opened three more exciting new bars in the city. Last year, they created Berry & Rye (pictured top), a small bar hidden behind a blacked-out shop front on the edge of the Ropewalks area, without even a small sign outside. Specialising in classic cocktails, it has a real 1920s speakeasy feel with vintage bric-à-brac, exposed brickwork and simple wooden chairs and tables.
Danny and the team wasted no time, and, last November, Jenny’s appeared in a basement down a side street in the business district at the opposite end of the city centre.

A doorway under an unpromising old faded sign for Jenny’s Sea Food Restaurant leads down to a stylish laid-back bar furnished with plush banquettes in red and green, retro lamps, curious bric-à-brac and ceiling wallpaper covered in butterflies and foliage (pictured below). A menu of mostly classic cocktails is served up by expert bartenders, complemented – as at Berry & Rye – by table service. They have also opened a small drinks shop on the site, called Whisky Business, specialising in boutique spirits and liqueurs.

Although with different partners, the most recent addition to the “family”, as Danny calls it, is Some Place, specialising in absinthe and cocktails, created on the first floor of The Zanzibar Club in Seel Street in the Ropewalks area but with its own discreet entrance. With an absinthe fountain on the bar, it is a small green-hued oasis for boutique absinthes and expertly made classics such as a Sazerac as well as the likes of a Brandy Smash, a Fig Alexander and a Cherry Sour. “I liked the idea of having a clandestine drinking den in the middle of the busiest drinking area,” Danny adds. “It is hidden in plain sight.”

He says they have been fairly opportunistic in choosing what to open, where and when. “There is no five-year ‘blueprint’ or anything like that. The concepts have evolved along with our interests. Whatever we open, the site must fit with the concept, in location, layout, and overheads. Whenever we consider a new idea, we ask, ‘What does a great drinking experience look like? What does it sound like? Taste like?’. You’re taking people on a journey here so, for me, it’s essential to understand what that journey is. The common thread is the quality of service. The venues may look and feel different but we always focus on the service and product being as good as it can be, regardless of the environment.”

Despite being something new, the bars’ values have been embraced by the people of Liverpool, he adds. “In my opinion, word of mouth here is quicker and more effective than anywhere else. Because of this, we have been able to let each venue grow organically, and this has led to the right type of drinker finding us. In the past few years, Liverpool has been blessed with some excellent venues from local independent operators. Each one has served to educate the drinker, whether it be craft beers or cocktails, which has led to an environment where we can open a venue that specialises in absinthe or in pre-Prohibition classics. That would not have been possible five years ago.”

jenny's liverpool

Berry & Rye, 48 Berry Street, Liverpool L1 4JQ Tel: 0151 345 7271
Jenny’s, Fenwick Street, Liverpool L2 7NT Tel: 0151 236 0332 www.jennysliverpool.co.uk
Some Place, 43 Seel Street, Liverpool L1 4AZ

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Bar magazine.

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