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Splash Of Dutch Courage For Atlas Bar

Rachael Heslehurst talks to Sue Rand about the re-invention of a past trend-setter

Published on May 16th 2012.


Splash Of Dutch Courage For Atlas Bar

BENEATH the railway line in the manic midst of Castlefield sits Atlas Bar, a bar being re-invented by new manager Sue Rand – all in aid of her big, gin dreams.

It hasn’t been discovered by a younger drinker and has always been perceived as an older drinker’s drink. We think it's a drink for everybody. 

Atlas Bar was a booming success in the 1990s and enjoyed a thriving following of fashionable, urbane people. The late radio host and presenter Tony Wilson regularly spent time in the bar and often used the space as a swanky, chilled-out location to conduct his interviews.

However, in recent years, Atlas Bar lost its cool identity, which is where Sue comes in. She plans to save the day by refurbishing the space and giving the bar a taste of Dutch courage and specialising with a gin menu.

But why gin?

A superb collection of ginA superb collection of gin

Sue says: “We chose to focus on gin because it may have Dutch origins but has become an English spirit and seems to have been forgotten. It hasn’t been discovered by a younger drinker and has always been perceived as an older drinker’s drink. We think it's a drink for everybody. There seems to be a lot of interest in gin – there are gin bars in London, Leeds and Newcastle but none in Manchester."

Sue believes the gin which best represents the bar is "definitely the ‘6 o’clock" – the gin which was the winner of Gold Best in Class in the 2011 International Wine and Spirit Competition. The judges described the drink as a 'breezy blend of fresh citrus and lovely notes of elderflower, which is full flavoured but beautifully balanced'. 

Sue says it represents Atlas Bar best because people finish work at that time – and that can only mean gin o’clock.

Swanky barSwanky bar

The Atlas Bar’s gin menu consists of 33 different types of gin and features other specialities such as Bloom and Berkeley Square, which Sue says she hasn’t seen anywhere else in Manchester.

“This is just the start. We intend to increase the collection and already have a following of people who are experimenting and developing favourites. The most popular apart from the Bloom and Berkeley Square are The Botanist, Monkey 47 and Death’s Door.”

For each individual gin on the menu, there is a tasting note to accompany it, which allows the customer to discover more on the flavours and texture of the drink and shows how much goes into distilling the gin in order to get it right.

As well as the gin Sue is working on other aspects of the bar such as the music policy. This now covers as many bases as the gins. There's soul, R'n'B, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

One thing Sue won't be changing much is the south-facing terrace. This can seat seventy people and stretches out behind the bar.

Despite all Atlas's recent troubles the terrace has always been one of the best in the city. It comes complete with exotic plants and stylish shrubbery and gives the impression of the comfort of a garden rather than the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Enjoy a splash of gin in the sunshine on the terraceEnjoy a splash of gin in the sunshine on the terrace

Sue says she’s looking to launch the newly refurbished bar in early June when she's happy with the changes. For nostalgia buffs the 'look' of the place will be very different from the simplicity of the original with newly, plush velvet and dark woods.

But if gin is your thing, then give Atlas Bar a try. Forget the myth that gin makes you cry, this gin won’t. And even if it does, let's hope it's tears of joy.

"We recognised there was a gap in the market," says Sue. "We want to fill it with gin and let people enjoy it in comfort."

Gins range from £3.50 - £5. Call 0161 834 2124 for opening times. Click here for the Twitter Page. Atlas Bar is at 376 Deansgate, City. M3 4LY. 0161 834 2124

You can follow Rachael Heslehurst on Twitter at @rheslehurst

Plush, velvet interiorsPlush, velvet interior

Soon to be refurbished external interiorSoon to be refurbished exterior

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Lynn CullimoreMay 17th 2012.

Went last night. Lovely terrace (sun shone!), excellent selection of gins, friendly atmosphere and a good night was had by all. I wish this new venture the best of luck. And I'll be back for more Gin Mare very soon!

Anna DunstanMay 17th 2012.

Great article, Atlas is a fantastic bar and Sue has an awesome attitude, looking forward to working with her & refurbing Atlas back to its former glory!!! #excited Watch this space!!! love pma design consultants

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

heard a rumour that this is already old news + Atlas has or will AGAIN soon be changing ownership #disaster!

Hero
GordoJune 21st 2012.

and was this just a rumour?

Stef MillsJune 27th 2012.

Does anyone know if Atlas has closed down? Been trying to call to confirm a booking for three days but nobody is picking up?

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