Look north: Northern Restaurant & Bar preview

NRB 2013A preview of this month’s Northern Restaurant & Bar show in Manchester

Bars, spirits and cocktails take centre stage at this year’s Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB) show in Manchester. The annual event returns to Manchester Central on March 18 and 19, showcasing food, drink, catering equipment, technology and other products and services from over 200 exhibitors. While it is aimed at anyone in the hospitality sector, the organisers are again working with drinks specialist Dave Marsland, also known as Drinks Enthusiast, to create features specifically for bars and bartenders.

Exhibitors will include Amathus, presenting the likes of Flor de Caña rum, Calle 23 tequila and Dolin vermouth, and Eaux de Vie with the Evan Williams whiskey range, Death’s Door gin, Mamont vodka and Briottet liqueurs. Wholesaler LWC will bring brands such as Old J Spiced rum while visitors can sample spirits and liqueurs in Malcolm Cowen’s portfolio.

The Spirit Room will host boutique spirits including Warner Edwards gins, Cuban rum Ron Cubay, Scottish gin Caorunn, Gabriel Boudier liqueurs, rhum agricole Rhum St Barths, Hunters Gin, Sprizzato. Other exhibitors will include Quintessential Brands, bringing Opihr and Bloom gins and Toussaint coffee liqueur, Southwestern Distillers with Tarquin’s Gin and Cornish Pastis, Calibre Brands with Snow Queen vodka, and other boutique spirits from Distillnation.

In the spirits section will be the Drinks Live theatre where brand talks and master classes will take place over the two days. Confirmed hosts include Alan Moss, co-creator of La Clandestine absinthe, who aims to demystify the world of absinthe, and Joanne Moore, master distiller at G&J Distillers, who will talk about her own creations such as Berkeley Square gin. Other speakers will include Carl Stephenson, creator of Elements Eight rum, and Chris Blackwell Jr, son of Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and Blackwell rum. Matt Dakers, UK brand ambassador for Stolichnaya, will talk vodka, while Thomas Peyrat, ‎UK brand ambassador for Rémy Martin, will speak on cognac. Alex Johnson from Eaux de Vie will head sessions on sherry and world whiskies.

Northern Restaurant & Bar will also host a cocktail competition run by Chairman’s Reserve rum, offering bartenders the chance to win a trip to the Caribbean island of St Lucia. Organised by Dave Marsland with Emporia Brands, it takes place at the show on March 19 in front of a judging panel including bartender Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club in Manchester and Bar magazine editor Mark Ludmon.

Other features of NRB will include the Grape & Grain theatre, with tutored tastings of wine, beer and cider led by speakers from the likes of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), alongside beers from Miller Brands UK, AB InBev UK and Magners. New for 2014 is the Tap Room, presenting different styles of ale from artisan brewers, building on the success of the craft ale tastings in the Grape & Grain theatre last year.

Other drink exhibitors will include Scottish brewer BrewDog, Britvic Soft Drinks, Wenlock Spring water, Wales’s Purple Moose Brewery, Efes Pilsner, Estrella Galicia beer, Fentiman’s soft drinks, Estrella Damm beer, Heineken UK, Lanchester Wine Cellars, Luscombe Organic Drinks, Matthew Clark, Thatchers Cider and Vivreau water filtration.

Exhibitors will also present ideas for interiors, such as furniture specialist Pub Stuff, as well as food such as Cheese Cellar and Mr Scratchings while the latest catering equipment will be on show from the likes of Nisbets, Stephensons and Rational UK. The Market Kitchen theatre will focus on artisanal food, with demonstrations on cheese, game, hot-stones cooking, pastries, butchery and fishmongery.

The main Chef Live theatre has a star-studded line-up including Michael Caines and James Martin making their first appearance at the show alongside Simon Rogan, Aiden Byrne, Marc Wilkinson, Steve Smith and other chefs from Liverpool, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Also new for 2014 is the NRB Debate – a conference covering issues facing the north’s hospitality industry. It will feature Tim Bacon, co-founder and managing director of bar operator Living Ventures, Beau Myers of bar and restaurant group Beautiful Drinks, and Marcello Distefano, managing director of restaurant group San Carlo. Tickets at £50 are on sale at www.nrbdebate.co.uk.

Registration for NRB is free to the trade at www.northernrestaurantandbar.co.uk.

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Bar magazine.

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