Ah summer…the season of long days, sunshine, mildly warm northern weather and cocktails!
Despite not being a big drinker, I was delighted to be invited to The Bassano Bar Manchester on the eve of its first (month) birthday. Launched on 21st June 2017, this Hacienda styled pop-up is the brainchild of Dave Marsland and Nick Hopewell-Smith and is in collaboration with the well-known UK restaurant chain Pizza Express.
Located on the up and coming First Street you’ll find the Italian influenced Bassano Bar standing out from the crowd, with its all glass exterior and gorgeous lavender blooms inviting you in for a closer look. Accompanied by my gorgeous date for the evening (my wife), we made our way down on a quiet Thursday evening after the post-work rush to try some of the menu, and I instantly fell in love.
I had envisioned that the bar itself would be located inside the restaurant, but was pleasantly surprised to find a sleekly designed standalone exterior awaiting us. There are seating options both inside and outside to suit all drinkers and diners, with a retractable roof for those inevitably rainy days.
Marble and white tables are adorned with luscious green plants, contrasting against striking yellow chairs. A statement white and yellow chevron armchair immediately caught my eye and a healthy scattering of cosy yellow blankets are draped over the back of chairs, perfect as the cool nights roll in. The stylish decoration paired with the light and airy interior give it a very modern, cool vibe – it’s definitely the kind of place that I can see myself visiting again and again to make the most of the sunshine.
After spending far too long poring over the options, we ordered our first round – a Manchester Negroni for me and a classic Aperol Spritz for Alexa.
Although we both love a good Aperol Spritz (and who doesn’t?) this was my first time trying a Manchester Negroni and I absolutely loved it. Made with Manchester Three Rivers gin, Campari & Nardini Mezzoemezzo it was strong, smooth and a very nice twist on the classic Negroni.
The menu has such a great variety of drinks, from Italian Prosecco to chilled serves made with San Pellgrino there is something for even the fussiest of drinkers. Beer is also available, but the focus is on classic and Italian influenced cocktails and we were both spoilt for choice.
Moving on, we decided to try drinks that were entirely new to us. Alexa chose the Spritz Delicato – a popular Bassano favourite of Nardini Rosso and Prosecco topped with soda water. I went with the Bassano Mule and this ended up being my favourite drink of the evening – a Venetian twist on the classic Mule, with Nardini Tagliatella, ginger beer and a twist of lemon.
We’d barely started on round two when Dave presented us with some Italian Grappa to try. For those of you who have no idea what this is (and I didn’t, until our visit!) Grappa is a grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that generally contains 40 to 60 percent alcohol by volume. The history behind the Bassano del Grappa and it’s production at the Palladio bridge is fabulous and definitely worth reading up on if you get a chance.
We sampled both the 40% vol Nardini Grappa and the 29% vol Nardini Acqua di Cedro which is made the peel of a cedro lemon. The Nardini Grappa was very strong but surprisingly palatable, and the Nardini Acqua di Cedro completely won me over with it’s sweet lemon taste.
For our ‘one for the road’ round we decided to go with ‘After Dinner’ cocktails, finishing with the Bassano Manhattan and the Smoked on the Bridge – a deliciously strong concoction of Nardini Amaro, Nardini Bitter, Antica Formula and Ardbeg 10. These were by far the strongest tasting cocktails of the night, but they were totally the right choice to finish the evening on.
We had such a fantastic night – to die for cocktails at a gorgeous location, topped off by the welcoming & warm company of drinks enthusiast Dave.
If you’re looking for a fresh new watering hole to visit this summer, make sure you head down and check out The Bassano Bar (menu & more info here).