Pen friends: The Pen & Pencil in Manchester

Pen & Pencil Manchester

Dan Pollard and Kevin Connor have opened The Pen & Pencil in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

After three years making The Violet Hour in Didsbury one of the best bars in Manchester, Dan Pollard has sold up and moved on to a new venture. He has opened The Pen & Pencil bar and eatery on the corner of Hilton Street and Tariff Street in the city’s Northern Quarter in partnership with Kevin Connor, who previously ran Dry Bar in nearby Oldham Street.

They have taken inspiration from 1950s New York City and TV’s Mad Men in both the drinks and the décor, using the name of a famous mid-20th-century Manhattan steakhouse. “I wanted something that looked back to mid-20th-century New York and a golden era for cocktails,” Dan explains. “New York’s Pen and Pencil was frequented by creatives like journalists and ad men, and, as the Northern Quarter is a creative area, it fitted the kind of clientele we are looking to attract.”

pen & Pencil mural

Working with designer Mike Maddocks, they took advantage of the site’s natural features such as the brickwork and large windows filling the space with natural light. There are retro adverts for food and drink including Tanqueray and Heineken dating back to the 1950s, while the walls of the bathrooms are covered in magazine pages spanning over 40 years to the present day. Artwork includes a large, striking picture of a 1950s-style woman smoking in front of a Manhattan skyline.

The cocktails, created by Dan with general manager Gethin Jones, also take inspiration from this period. “Drinks in the 1950s and 1960s were short and boozy, although some of our twists have made them a bit more palatable to 2015 tastes,” Dan points out. They include Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – taking its name from the first-ever episode of Mad Men – which combines Montelobos Mezcal with apricot liqueur, peach liqueur, dry vermouth, lemon juice and red apple. Other popular drinks are the Cucumber & Sake Martini, with Snow Queen vodka, Akashi-Tai plum-infused sake and cucumber, and Breakfast at Jimmy’s – a Margarita twist mixing El Jimador blanco tequila with Cointreau, marmalade and lime juice.

pen & pencil seating

Open from 10am, The Pen & Pencil offers breakfast and brunch, with dishes such as buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, house-made bourbon syrup and streaky bacon, and a Mexican breakfast with scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, avocado, Manchego cheese, tomato salsa, chipotle and sour cream. This is complemented by top-quality coffee and freshly blended smoothies. In the evening, the menu includes small plates and a few larger dishes with an international feel such as Lebanese scotch egg with tahini, and pork and chive dumplings.

Open till 2am at weekends, the venue has a resident DJ and runs monthly live music nights. Whether looking for a late-night party or a chilled-out brunch, The Pen & Pencil takes classic 1950s style and brings it bang up to date.

The Pen & Pencil, 57 Hilton Street, Manchester M1 2EJ
Tel: 0161 660 3303

Pen and Pencil, Northern Quarter

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