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Room Bar, Reviewed

Niamh Spence braves the dark for the city's pinkest cocktails

Written by . Published on March 13th 2014.

Room Bar, Reviewed

ATMOSPHERIC lighting is subjective in bars these days. Dim but warm lighting is favoured by many, whilst some seem to have switched their lights off altogether.

"Seems ever since the Great British Bake Off became popular, we're all embracing bakewells, shortcake and even digestives into our regular diets."

Room, on King Street West, has definitely taken its lighting to a new level. Or low. The bar is so dark it's any wonder customers make it to the till at all. It's a shame because Room's... well, room, is glorious. Easily one of the best bar settings in Manchester.

The windows are plentiful and huge, splashing some much needed light across the restaurant and bar. It's a handsome space overlooking a handsome corner of the city centre.

Beautiful outside and in

Beautiful outside and in

It's got form too, the Gothic building from the 1870s was originally a gentleman's club called Reform and hosted prime ministers and future prime ministers of the calibre of Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. The door way of the building appeared in the editor's article here

If you do manage to stumble through the dark to the bar, you'll be rewarded with an extensive spirit menu, and even longer list of delcious cocktails.

"What do you like to drink?" asked my barmaid as I perused the list. Getting stuck amongst the gin, tequila and whisky cocktails, I instead opted for my old faithful; a French Martini.

Room Bar By DayRoom Bar in daylight... who has the bulbs?

The bar was busy due to it not only being a Saturday night but also payday weekend (the weekend we all wish we hadn't), we hunted down some seats by the stairs where they'd managed to find one of few light switches.

French MartiniFrench MartiniOur cocktails were brought over to us and even on that first sip I understood why Room was so popular. Perfectly sweet, with the simple raspberry garnish that so many other bars fail to add, this French Martini (£7.95) reminded me why this classic cocktail will always be a favourite. 

Next up were two cheeky treats; a sneak peek at two cocktails that will be added to the new menu soon. If you don't ask, you don't get.

First up, is the Cottonopolis (the former nickname of Manchester). This is part of their new Manchester inspired cocktail section, the drink is vodka based and with all the sweetness and light of cotton candy. With Manchester the international centre for the cotton trade during the nineteenth century, the drink seemed fitting. And very pink. But, as a complete girly girl it's another sweet pink drink to add to my list of favourites.

Lovely bay in the bar

Lovely bay in the bar

The second is to be part of a British biscuits section. Seems ever since the Great British Bake Off became popular, we're all embracing bakewells, shortcake and even digestives into our regular diets. This cocktail is inspired by that childhood (and adulthood if we're honest) favourite, Jaffa Cakes. To be garnished with 'an actual jaffacake' according to the server, the chocolate and orange concoction will appeal to most. Despite an already extensive cocktail list I already can't wait to see these biscuit combinations make it onto the hefty menu.

CottonopolisCottonopolis - another pink one

If cocktails aren't your thing then Room has plenty of spirits, wines and beers as my companion found out when the cocktails became a bit too hard on the enamel. Asking the bar for a 'light beer', the server came back with a Chinese Tsingtao beer. "If it's not right, I can get you another instead," she added helpfully.

Room needs to turn its lights up, if only to show off the fantastic space it occupies. But certainly one thing it's not lacking is the service. The staff and the drinks were delightful throughout. And that's what makes this room a great bar.

You can follow Niamh Spence on Twitter.


Room: 81 King Street, Manchester, M2 4AH

Telephone: 0161 839 2005

Follow @RoomBarUK on twitter.

Rating: 14/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Drinks: 4.5/5
Ambience: 2/5 Turn your lights up a bit Room.

PLEASE NOTE: 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, we get carried away

Jaffa Cake - are Jaffa Cakes pink?Jaffa Cake - are Jaffa Cakes pink?

Lofty lovely ceilingsLofty lovely ceilings


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

David BishopMarch 13th 2014.

Didn't Arnie go for a pint in Reform when he was in Manchester?

Ann BishopMarch 13th 2014.

I absolutely LOVE room xx they must have turned the lights down since the last time that I was there!!

FoodieMarch 13th 2014.

I think Ann lives Room

1 Response: Reply To This...
FoodieMarch 13th 2014.


JimMarch 13th 2014.

Nice food at room. Surprised you've gone there and not bothered to review the food. Always been very nice.

Jennifer WatsonMarch 14th 2014.

I love the food and cocktails there but I have been put off going back by the volume they play their music at. If you're in the restaurant, it's difficult to have a conversation if there's more than 2 or 3 of you.

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