Tall Stories: cocktails and dining at Manchester’s 20 Stories

Stories Manchester

Nearly 100 metres up, 20 Stories is a new Manchester spot for cocktails and food. Mark Ludmon reports

Up on the 19th floor of Manchester’s new No 1 Spinningfields development is a stunning new restaurant and bar for enjoying cocktails while gazing out over the city. 20 Stories is the latest venture from leading operator D&D London, created with leading chef Aiden Byrne who was most recently at Living Ventures’ Manchester House. Much of the attention has been on Aiden’s food, specialising in modern British cuisine and using locally sourced ingredients, but, with a vibrant cocktail bar between the restaurant and grill and another bar on the large rooftop terrace, 20 Stories is also a place for drinking.

The bar manager is Stuart McLachlan who was also at Manchester House and previously worked in the city at The Lowry Hotel and San Carlo restaurants. He has created a cocktail list that pays homage to Manchester’s diverse cultures while also being inspired by nature and Aiden’s seasonal British food. The signature 20 Stories cocktail draws on the city’s Roman past, mixing a house-made honey and herbs cordial and grapes with Tanqueray gin, La Quintinye Blanc Vermouth and fresh lemon juice plus a red wine float.

Stories Manchester

Aiden’s Manchester tart inspires the Manchester Tart Punch with Havana Club Especial rum, fresh raspberries, maraschino cherry liqueur, fresh lemon and apple juice plus a hint of coconut syrup. There are also plenty of cocktails without a taste of Manchester but still full of flavour, from a Pineapple Sazerac to a Midnight Martini with coffee and Montelobos mezcal.

Like the food and drink, the design was inspired by Manchester and nature as well as the sky, incorporating locally sourced materials and hand-crafted elements. It is a collaboration between New York-based firm CetraRuddy and UK-based design agency DesignLSM with the ambition to create “an environment that provides the inspiration of being one with nature”.

Stories Manchester

Coming out of the lift, a stone path takes you past the lobby to the bar and dining room and onwards to the terrace. The canopy over the main bar is a modern interpretation of an ornamental grand specimen tree so drinkers feel they are sitting under the bowers of a tree. The spokes and fabrics are illuminated from above to create a dramatic form and enhance the textural quality of natural materials, designed to invigorate while bringing a “nurturing serenity”, according to CetraRuddy.

This ambition to nurture continues outside on the terrace, an intimate garden with four specimen silver birches and a lush installation of native plantings. A circular fire pit is inspired by trips to Africa, where weary safari travellers gather at the end of the day to share stories, with an undulating concrete bar that references the bar inside. The focal point is Jon Bickley’s 2009 metal sculpture, Tern of the Tide, made up of ethereal birds that look like they are just taking flight. With heaters, canopies and lounge seating, the terrace is designed to be a cosy all-weather spot for food and drink whatever the Manchester skies throw at it.

20 Stories, No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3EB
Tel: 0161 204 3333

Stories Manchester

Originally published in the April 2018 print edition of Bar magazine.

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