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Elixir: Drink Yourself Healthy Cocktails

L'Oréal Blackett samples tonics, treats and crystal healing at the new Deansgate bar

Written by . Published on January 7th 2014.

Elixir: Drink Yourself Healthy Cocktails

“GO out, get drunk and bond” was the order from the editor.

It’s the first week in the job; myself and Niamh are just getting into the swing of our role covering health, beauty, and what was becoming apparent, our new careers as ‘professional piss-heads’.

Alongside the professional and passionate approach to cocktail-making, they haven’t missed the opportunity to run with a theme. In fact one of the barmen is a certified crystal healer. 

Elixir Tonics and Treats was the destination for the evening. Based on Deansgate opposite John Rylands Library, the bar’s in an ideal location for impromptu after-work quiet drinks or, what was more likely in this case, to be an after-work and into the early hours of the morning affair.

That’s if you spot it, however. Elixir is hidden behind a heavy gothic door, revealing  inside a quaint, dimly lit bar-lounge with a sultry bordering on moody ambience. 


There’s wall to wall of flickering candles, the air is filled scented with oils, there’s decorated exposed brickwork, vines creep up the corners and apothecary keys dangle from branches. As noted in the review of Elixir’s food offering, there’s a general feeling that you’ve entered a scene from Harry Potter, well, if you ignore the DJ who plays a combination of ambient house and electronic music.

“I do enjoy a bit of theatre” said our Niamh.

Me too. When it comes to cocktails, me and Niamh see eye-to-eye, we want cocktails with all the trimmings; vigorously shaken or sensually stirred by an expert ‘mixologist’ with a degree in amateur dramatics. I want my drinks with all the thrills. I want to be wowed by showmanship. And I want it all poured into a pretty glass.

Img_5236Elixir, Manchester

Elixir did not disappoint. The cocktail menu is large, diverse and suitably theatrical, split up into three sections; ‘Tonics, Treats and Purgatory to Paradise’.  The menu, on parchment-like paper, boasts original concoctions that keep to the medieval apothecary script, including cocktails with apt names like ‘Forbidden Fruit', ‘Pearly Gates’ and 'Utopion Elixir'. 

“You’re not going to see a ‘Sex on the Beach’ on the menu or any other cheesy 90s night cocktail. Yet if you wanted one, we’d make you the best you’ve ever tasted.” said Ryan, one of the suited barmen.

That’s the beauty of Elixir, alongside the professional and passionate approach to cocktail-making, they haven’t missed the opportunity to run with a theme.

In fact, one of the barmen is a certified crystal healer, specialising in holistic elixirs. Elixir stresses that this is purely a delightful coincedence. 

Before we dipped into the cocktail menu, we tentatively browsed the gem water and crystal elixir menu that claims to help remedy headaches, aid digestion, boost your energy and appropriately, encourage liver function.

I had long lost my belief in magic, spiritual interventions and Santa, yet with these holistic medicines I couldn’t fight the intrigue.  Plus, it’s free.

So, question is could the crystal healer cure a hangover?

Img_5204Crystal Healing 

“It’s mind over matter.” said Andrew Passagno, the barman-cum-crystal healer. “You have to believe that it will work. It’s about getting your mind and body to work in symbiotic unity.”

To the eye, Andrew is just your regular barman; smartly dressed, with an endearing 'happy to help' smile. Yet when encouraged to relay all about his crystals, out spews a history, a science and a bubbling passion for holistic medicines. It’s a lifestyle; one which he believes has cured his dermatitis and incessant burps.

“We don’t push it on anyone. It’s on the back of the menu. If people find it and get curious then we’ll introduce them to it.”

Andrew’s enthusiasm for crystal healing is quite infectious, if at times mind boggling.  

There’s convoluted science words like ‘pscho-neuro-immunology’ that I failed to grasp. There was also a lot talk of atoms and vibrations and chakras. What I managed to understand is that the water contains a memory, and crystals contain healing information; believe, drink the water and see results.

Black Onyx in a crystal elixirBlack Onyx in a crystal elixir

I chose to boost my energy. Andrew added two drops of ‘Black Onyx’, a homeopathic liquid preserved in vodka, to his freshly prepared gem water that tasted like, well, water.

Now, when it comes to girls’ nights I tend to brace myself for an unhealthy quantity of alcohol. As a known lightweight, this usually isn’t a good idea but the hangovers are accounted for and my sore head may be unwanted but an accepted price to pay.

So yes, bring on the alcohol.

Sticking to the ‘Treats’ section of the menu at first, I was presented with a ‘Cuppa Chai’. A charming little cocktail of raisin rum, lime and sugar topped with a Chai Tea foam, presented in a chintzy China tea set. The ‘Cuppa Chai’ (£9) was dusted with cinnamon and accompanied with white chocolate in the shape of a scone; a cocktail sweet to the eye and to taste.

Img_5207Cuppa Chai

Continuing to impress with well executed presentation, Niamh was given 'Lavender Cascade' one of the more flamboyant drinks on Elixir’s menu.  It was a combination of pink grapefruit and Stolichnaya vodka came along with its own, umm... smoke machine. Filling the table with a thick lavender infused white cloud, I was quietly conscious we would look like two witches, huddled in Elixir’s darkest corner, cackling behind a cauldron. Well, we said we wanted drama.


After trying other favourites on the ‘Treat’ section, ‘Life Is Sweet’ and the popular ‘Lovelace Martini’ it was hard to tell whether I was tipsy or on a sugar high.

Img_5220Niamh, 'Life Is Sweet'

It was time to brave the Tonic section. I opted for The Hermit. The Hermit (£9) was similar to an old fashioned bourbon on the rocks. A drink I would otherwise avoid. Yet I was ensured that Elixir had taken some of the edge off.

It came in a hip-flask and I was curiously given a stress ball. If this was 1952, or an episode of Mad Men, this drink would fit right in with all the men stressed from their work in advertising and juggling mistresses. It was smoother than expected, the aftertaste lingered but I suppose compared to the sweet, sugary cocktails I'd usually choose, this would suit the masculine 'mans man' who wouldn't care for all the fancy faff. There's something for everyone.

Img_5227The Hermit

Overall, Elixir’s attention to detail is its major selling point.

new project from Escapade, the bar consultancy that has introduced Manchester to new bars such as Neighbourhood, Vega Lounge and Southern Eleven, it's Elixir's well thought out quirkiness and knowledgeable team that ensures this independent has all the makings and the magic of a successful watering hole. 

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Shannon_DJanuary 2nd 2014.

I totally agree with this review. Elixir is in a league of its own. I'm in love with it. :-)

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