Red Door in Manchester is “changing the world one drink at a time”
The first bar opened by Tim Bacon, the late co-founder of bar and restaurant groups Living Ventures and New World Trading Company, was JW Johnson’s in Manchester in 1993. Although it is long closed, the Deansgate address came back under his wing two years ago when he and the team opened The Botanist restaurant. But, before he passed away in April, Tim announced that the basement space would become the third outing for Red Door, the late-night bars he created with business partner Dave Hinds – another alumnus of JW Johnson’s.
A door, stamped with the bar’s name in big red letters, leads down to a modern bar where guests are met with the neon-lit motto, “Changing the world one drink at a time”. With roomy booths, high tables and a dancefloor, it has been designed to be comfortable and snug during the week and a place to party the night away at weekends. It was designed in-house by Rebecca Rayson, taking some of the core elements of the other bars in Chester and Liverpool and adding individual touches. Music is a big part of the offering, with live music on Thursdays and Fridays and DJs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday – it is open till 2am Sunday to Thursday and 3am at weekends.
All three bars share the same menu, with cocktails developed by Liverpool’s general manager Josh Roberts and menu developer Blue Jones. Alongside classics, they came up with recipes in line with current and future trends, while the bartenders are also trained in at least 100 classics. A firm favourite at the bars is Mrs Jones, a mix of Tanqueray gin with Aperol, fresh grapefruit, elderflower and lemon juice, with a sugar rim. Their twist on a French Martini combines Chambord and Ketel One vodka with cranberry and a house-made pineapple foam topped with raspberry dust. Additions to the menu include the Big Dill, with Tanqueray gin, watermelon syrup, dill, a fresh watermelon slice and fresh amaranth, finished with Fever-Tree tonic. There is also a good selection of spirits, including top-end expressions – dubbed the “League of Extraordinary” – such as Highland Park 40 Year Old whisky and El Dorado 25 Year Old 1986 rum.
With two more Red Door bars scheduled for Birmingham and Leeds, the concept was given a refresh at the start of this year under brand manager Tessa Swerdlow. “We kept the same friendly feel and morals that Red Door represents but we’ve made it adaptable to every city and every customer. The new Red Door is filled with the same love, laughter and life as JW Johnson’s which we’ve brought back to 2016.”
Red Door, 78 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FW
Tel: 0161 832 2808
Behind the scenes
Design: Rebecca Rayson
Main contractor: Waverley Construction
Bar and kitchen: Dawnvale
Lighting: Tyson Lighting
Audio system: Blacka Group
Music: Genre Music
AC system: J Fletcher
Originally published in the September 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.