Manchester poised for first week-long cocktail festival

The Pen and Pencil Manchester cocktails

Bars across Manchester are getting ready for the city’s first-ever week-long cocktail festival this month, inspired by the success of Leeds Loves Cocktails.

Organisers have enlisted 30 bars and restaurants to take part in Manchester Loves Cocktails which runs from August 8 to 14, aimed at both consumers and bartenders.

The programme of events includes a takeover of El Gato Negro by the team from The American Bar at The Savoy in London with Portobello Road Gin, a whiskey cocktail pairing dinner at Tariff & Dale in association with Woodford Reserve, and a Bourbon Masterclass & Blues Party at Fitzgerald with Hudson Whiskey.

Other participating bars and restaurants include Hawksmoor, Cane & Grain, Mojo, Gorilla, Trof, Crazy Pedro’s Part-Time Pizza Parlour, Cottonopolis, The Alchemist and The Pen & Pencil (pictured).

The programme features one-off events, tasting dinners, masterclass sessions, competitions and parties to celebrate the art of mixing drinks and the city’s fantastic cocktail scene.

There is also a series of events, tastings and masterclasses designed for bartenders and those that work in the drinks industry, including a “War of Roses” cocktail competition, which will see them pitted against their trans-Pennine counterparts to crown either Manchester or Leeds the cocktail capital of the north.

Each of the venues will collaborate with a leading spirits brand on a one-off exclusive cocktail menu. Available for the week of the festival, each cocktail is just £4.50 and available exclusively for festival wristband holders only.

Other participating spirit brands include El Jimador tequila, Bacardi rum, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray gin, Montelobos Mezcal, and Licor 43.

Over 40 individual events will take place during the festival, exclusively for wristband holders, including:

  • a Gin Journey tour around the city’s cocktail bars, hosted by bartender Leon Dalloway who first created the Gin Journey in London
  • a tequila-fuelled “Gringo Bingo” at Blackdog Ballroom in association with El Jimador
  • a night of American “Gin & Swing” dancing at Cane & Grain in association with Death’s Door Gin.

Manchester Loves Cocktails was founded by leading drinks creator and cocktail enthusiast Nick Fox, based in Leeds. The Leeds Loves Cocktails festival has taken place for the past four years, attracting thousands of cocktail fans.

Nick said: “Manchester is one of the UK’s greatest destinations for cocktail lovers. The standard of cocktails in the city are on par with top bars of London and New York and it’s about time that the city has a festival to celebrate Manchester’s incredible talent and diverse cocktail scene.

“The north definitely has a lot to offer, and I want us to celebrate that fact with a week-long cocktail festival. Manchester Loves Cocktails is the ultimate festival for cocktail lovers with a week-long programme of unmissable events and bespoke discount drinks.

“Over the seven days we’ll be encouraging guests to ‘drink better, not more’ by exploring the story behind people’s favourite spirits, as well as some spirits they may have not come across before with tasting masterclasses and events throughout the whole week.”

To gain access to the events and to buy cocktails at the discounted price of £4.50, attendees must buy Manchester Loves Cocktails wristbands for £10. Trade wristbands are available for those that work in the bar industry at a discounted price of £5 – proof of employment must be shown upon collection. Wristbands can be bought from

The festival will be supporting Hospitality Action, the trade charity offering a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry, with 25p of each wristband sold being donated to the charity.

Emma Cottam from Hospitality Action said: “We are hugely grateful to Leeds Loves Cocktails for supporting the work that we do. The long hours and demanding work schedule associated with the hospitality industry add extra stress when trying to cope with life’s daily pressures – sometimes, all it takes is a very small change to turn a manageable situation into an unmanageable one.

“With the help of the industry and events such as these, Hospitality Action always ensures that there is always somewhere for people to turn to in their hour of need.”

For a full list of bars and restaurants that are taking part in Manchester Loves Cocktails, visit or follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @MCRCocktails or using the hashtag, #MLC16.

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