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Illusions Magic Bar

Sam Jones is enchanted by some limes and needs help with a magic wand cocktail

Published on September 16th 2010.

Illusions Magic Bar

After successfully establishing a first bar in Bristol, Illusions Magic Bar has now landed in the Printworks. It promises to provide some originality to the local bar scene by re-introducing the magic bar to Manchester.

The magic itself was brilliant, the entertainers were funny and entertaining, the tricks were outstanding and one young gentleman made some limes appear out of nowhere, which is an amazing skill to have. He wouldn’t tell me how he did. This was a shame I have a thing about limes.

Compared to the rest of its neighbours, Illusions is relatively small and splits into three areas, which allows customers to get as involved (or not) with the magic shows as they so desire.

At the far end of the bar there is a performance space, on this occasion taken up by a singer doing covers, and a standing area. In the centre is the bar itself and a seating area and by the door is the magic area, where a group of magicians rotate performances throughout the evening. If you want to watch the magic, but can’t be bothered standing up, the show is shown live on a large screen in the seating area.

As well as being Manchester’s only designated magic bar, Illusions is the only place in town where you can get your hands on an exclusive ‘magic wand cocktail’.

Under strict instructions from the Confidential office to drink one, my teetotal friend Sophie and I, made our way to the bar to see what the fuss was about.

After a bit of deliberation we opted for a ‘Woo-woo’. As I would be drinking it on my own, a small magic wand, rather than the full scale one, would be the way forward.

We then watched as the bartender pulled a thin tube out from under the bar and started stuffing ice into it. Sophie looked worried.

“It’s about three foot tall.”

“Yeah but look at it. It’s only a thin tube, I’ll be fine.”

The truth is I was thinking ahead to smug conversations telling people I’d once drunk a cocktail the size of a dwarf - on my own.

However, the barwoman then took another tube out from under the bar and put the thin tube, which was now full of ice, inside it.

The new tube was bigger. I realised that if I tried to drink it solo I would die. As the barwoman poured two full cartons of cranberry juice into the tube I started to panic.

“Oh no, what is she doing?”

“That can’t be your drink.”

“I hope it’s not my drink, I’ve only come out for one. I don’t want it to be a three foot one.”

As the bar-staff continued to pour copious amounts of alcohol, I started to think of ways to get out of the situation. Maybe I could run off or text all my contacts and ask for back-up. Maybe Sophie will not be teetotal for once and help me drink it.

The bar tender then put the drink on the bar and it was larger than first feared. The magic wand cocktail is basically a large cylinder with its own tap which holds about six pints of cocktail and is probably suitable for a party of about six. The larger wand is twice the size.

To be exact the smaller version (£25) holds 10 glasses and 10 shots, and the larger one (£40) 18 glasses and 20 shots. At happy hour they’re each a fiver less.

“Sorry, can we have a diet coke as well please?” said Sophie.

With Sophie abandoning me and the bar staff staring at me like I was the biggest alcoholic in the universe, I needed a saviour.

“What the hell is that?”

Turning around I was met by a stranger named Mike and his girlfriend Gemma.

“I don’t know, but can you help me please”

With the drama now subsided, and a drinking squad assembled, we took a seat and attempted to work our way through the mother of all cocktails.

After powering through the majority of it with help from my new friends, a few other people I know responded to my text by coming to finish the beast off. Made up of Archers, Eristoff vodka and cranberry juice the barstaff had somehow managed to make the vast creation taste really good.

With this done, it was time to watch some magic. The magic itself was brilliant, the entertainers were funny and entertaining, the tricks were outstanding and one young gentleman made some limes appear out of nowhere, which is an amazing skill to have. He wouldn’t tell me how he did it. This was a shame I have a thing about limes.

However at times it was difficult to hear what was going on. This was acknowledged by the magicians themselves. The reason for this was that someone had made a decision to put speakers around the magic area, the music from which drowned out a lot of the performance.

This seems like a defect that can be remedied quickly and it should be because the unique selling point of Illusions is the magic which is really worth seeing.

Illusions turned out to be a real laugh.

Despite being a bar which sells itself on live performances, Illusions has also pulled off being a bar which allows relaxing chat surprisingly well, maybe give it a go.

It certainly makes for a novel night out with a huge and very good cocktail selection mingling classics such as Cosmopolitans and Mai Tais and with their own creations such as Apple Crumble and The Professor – although the ‘Sex on Beach aka Paul Daniels’ sounds challenging largely because it incorporates the name Paul Daniels. Prices are around the £5-£6.

If you’ve got friends that actually drink and are better than mine, then you might want to have a dip into one of the vast magic wands. If you’ve got a coach-load of people tagging along maybe even try one of the pony sized big boys.

Bar Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 4/5 drinks
3.5/5 service
3.5/5 ambience
4/5 entertainment
Address: Illusions Magic Bar
The Printworks
0161 819 7791

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2010.

I have a feeling this may be a five minute wonder.....

Arran SummerhillSeptember 15th 2010.

Now you see it....now you dont! Tadah.

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2010.

Their first venue is not in Brighton but in Bristol, however their 3rd venue opening next month will be in Brighton!

EditorialSeptember 16th 2010.

Will change that fact thanks.

Tricky dickySeptember 16th 2010.

This sounds good. I popped a look in the door last night and I'll be back. I'm a right mug for illusion. Love the thing

&quotNot a lot&quot!!September 16th 2010.

A group of us ended up here bank holiday weekend in May - We were expecting some 'vegas-esque' emporium and so were dissapointed to find a standard chav filled bar with a ropey magician doing basic card tricks near the door - Stay well clear.

Mark BennettSeptember 17th 2010.

Great place! We were going to the cinema but thought this place was worth a visit, to be honest we didn't even make it to the cinema the magic was fantastic and the music they played was brill. as Sam says " well worth a visit" I might go and say this is the best place in the Printworks, well to be honest we don't visit many other places in there except the cinema

Savage HenrySeptember 20th 2010.

I wouldnt usually ever go to the Printworks but I really liked it here!

ArielSeptember 23rd 2010.

An Awesome Night out! I went here with a friend and we sat for 2 hours solid... and indulged in a few cocktails too.. Andrew James was the magician at the time and he was truely AMAZING!! A must see... I HIGHLY recommend it.. Andrew was on Thursdays and Fridays! :)

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