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Arrack Attack

Christian Valentine goes in search of the Sri Lankan spirit with the Liquorists

Published on March 19th 2013.


Arrack Attack

VODKA, gin, rum, whisky. These are the drinks that everyone knows but Ceylon Arrack is something else entirely. Fortunately, Massimo Zitti of the Liquorists was leading the drink virgins on their Ceylon Arrack trail around five Manchester bars.

Neat, it didn’t half have a coconutty kick. But mixed with oranges, herbs and spices, it made a lovely long drink

Everything kicked off at 22 Redbank, the Liquorists’ lair from where they plan their spirit-based shenanigans.

Despite the soulless exterior, which was just a plain old warehouse in appearance, inside was very cool. There was a well-stocked bar, as you’d expect from cocktail virtuosos, and bits and bobs of Ceylon Arrack themed décor including a giant Martini glass with goldfish swimming around inside.

There was also a most enticing spicy curry odour which reassured everyone that they were going to be primed, and their stomachs lined, for some serious cocktail imbibing. It also reassured the goldfish that they weren’t on the menu.

There were about 15 people in the group and everyone was up for a good night. But first, it was back to school - a quick lesson about the history, production and culture of the drink which is made from coconut sap.

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The job of swinging through the trees to collect the sap is actually inherited and passed down from generation to generation. A bit different from inheriting your granny’s brooch.

However, unlike any OFSTED approved lesson, a straight glass of Ceylon Arrack was proffered followed by a blended drink using Arrack as a base. Neat, Christian found it didn’t half have a coconutty kick. But mixed with oranges, herbs and spices, it made a lovely long drink.

Fortified with a Sri Lankan curry, the group was whisked off into the night in a stylish white minibus (it beats walking). First stop on the magical mystery tour was Apotheca, in the Northern Quarter. The trail also took in Hula, Whiskey Jar and Epernay.

At every stop off, there was an Arrack-based shot to be downed, swiftly followed by a cocktail to show off the diversity and adaptability of the spirit.

There was also a tasty nibble in each venue to demonstrate how Ceylon Arrack can be paired with food. With each slurp and snack, more titbits of information about the drink were revealed by the knowledgeable Massimo, while everyone piled in with their own likes and dislikes.

With such a range of cocktails and food, even the pickiest fusspot found something to enjoy. From ale-based cocktails to champagne-based ones, from pineapple and blue cheese to coconut bites, there was a range of new and interesting flavours to experience.

As the group hopped from bar to bar, everyone got chatting – Liquorists spirit trails are a good way to meet like-minded tipplers. Christian headed off just before midnight leaving his new-found booze-buddies still in full flow.

Having declared the outing, “Great value and a great way to learn about a new drink,” he has promised to scan the supermarket shelves for Ceylon Arrack in the future.

Fancy going on a Liquorists cocktail trail? Check out The Rum Trail 4.

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