Where Bubbles and Berries Mix
A tasting menu where the food complements the cocktails? That’ll be Manchester bar Cloud23’s latest Bubbles and Berries
Review by Catherine Ferguson
Falling leaves, blue skies, conker fights, blackberry-picking, toffee apples, bonfires…what’s not to like about autumn? I was positively giddy when I heard about Cloud23’s new ‘Bubbles and Berries’ Cocktail progression.
I let out an audible gasp when I stepped into the sun-filled panoramic bar laden with all things woodland, from little trees festooned with rust-coloured leaves to simple but super cute hand-carved wooden cutlery.
Despite my ill-hidden excitement, I was still scratching my head about what the devil a ‘cocktail progression’ actually was. I’m reliably informed that every day’s a school day, so on this particular day, I learned that it’s essentially a tasting menu, featuring cocktails and canapés. In contrast to a more traditional tasting menu, the food complemented the drinks, rather than the other way around, but in truth, they were both equally delightful.
The autumn theme cleverly meanders its way through every course, mostly through the medium of berries – after all, the clue’s in the name. The bubbles make their appearance through the Perrier Jouët Champagnes that are at the heart of each of the cocktails, which were a team-effort, devised by all the Cloud23 staff during a day of mixology. That sure as dammit sounds more fun than any staff training day I’ve ever been to…
Kicking off with ‘Bold Blackberry’, Perrier Jouët Brut with vodka, blackberry, lemon and apple is topped off with a fresh fig, stuffed with brie, wrapped in smoked pancetta with fig dressing. The ‘Zesty Gooseberry’, went straight to the top of my list. I’m a big fan of Champagne cocktails that taste of Champagne and the Zesty Gooseberry has got that down to a tee. Perrier Jouët Blanc de Blanc with gooseberry caviar. Oh so simple, but absolutely divine. The fresh zestiness of the Champagne and the bubbly, fruity texture of the gooseberry caviar made them perfect bedfellows.
As the menu progressed, the flavours and dishes became heartier. Crisp lingonberry with cranberry and lemon accompanied fillet of beef carpaccio with pistachio crumb and redcurrants while Perrier Jouët Rosé with ginger, rose and blueberry foam met flambéed apple and cinnamon sorbet.
The menu crescendos with a Rich Red Berry cocktail, with Brut champagne, red berry vodka, lime, blackberry, red berries and soda. It comes with a black forest chocolate brownie soaked in cherry liquor with vanilla bean ice cream and fruits of the forest. In truth, the cocktail was a pudding in itself and the brownie might be a little too much except for those with the sweetest of teeth. Then again, who ever said “no” to a brownie?
What struck me most was that the whole offering felt like something a little bit different. The theme worked, it wasn’t gimmicky, the canapés weren’t fussy, they just tasted great and hit the spot with every cocktail. I’ve been to Cloud23 many times and each time it feels like a different bar with a different menu – each as good as the last. Just like autumn, what’s not to like?
The five course menu is served until November 12th in the Zeus lounge at £55 or an Aperitvo menu of Cocktails & Bites is also available, priced at £16.
Enquiries: Cloud23, Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ / www.cloud23bar.com