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The Egg, Immortality And The Beekeeper

Sarah Tierney is seduced by cocktail magic at Elixir

Published on May 29th 2014.

The Egg, Immortality And The Beekeeper

THERE'S an off-menu cocktail at Elixir that they only serve on a full moon in the month of Aries to people with the right aura. We're in the month of Gemini, our group's collective aura is best described as 'bemused' and if there's a full moon, it's not out yet because it's lunchtime. But they're going to make it anyway, and if the universe implodes, or the stars become irreversibly out-of-joint, we will just have to deal with that.

Andy pours it into a hermetically sealed jar and takes it away to transmute in his athanor into the elixir of eternal life.

Elixir's mind-expanding mixologist Andy is the creator of the cocktail, which is called The Egg and is based on a recipe for immortality he got off the internet. He pours ingredients into his cauldron (liquid mercury, red sulphur, distilled morning dew and saltpetre) and furiously stirs. It bubbles and steams and we can feel the air changing shape. Then Andy pours it into a hermetically sealed jar and takes it away to transmute in his athanor into the elixir of eternal life.

003“It'll take about twenty minutes,” he says. “So, who wants a drink?”

We nod. The Egg was a digression. We actually came here to write about the change in the cocktail menu from winter list to summer list. Immortality was just a bonus.

Elixir is now six-months-old and on its way to becoming known as the place to go for cocktails in Manchester. People come for birthdays, celebrations, or just because it's a beguiling little bar that you want to spend time in. Since it got a 2am licence, it's started attracting a late night crowd as well as evening drinkers. And about seventy per cent of all the drinks they serve are cocktails.

Their list is imaginative, odd, and based on the type of experimentation that would make Heston Blumenthal proud. It's also unswervingly good.

Andy makes us a couple of drinks that will soon be culled in the menu change. The Cuppa-Chai captures the wintry theme of the current list. You sip expecting a bitter, hot cappuccino then your mind reels when what you get is a cold, sparkling, sweet daiquiri.

They're aiming to challenge your tastes and it's working. But they're not so arrogant that they'll do it by making you a cocktail you won't like. The Cuppa-Chai looks like a gimmick but it's also a damn fine drink.

We also had a Countess Viola, another cocktail that's about to get the chop. This violette liquor with lemon and champagne is more conventional, but again, there's nothing safe or predictable about the taste. Like the Cuppa-Chai, it's popular, and Andy thinks there'll be some disappointed customers when they're told it's no longer available.

011Hopefully they'll find a new favourite on the summer menu which replaces the purgatory/paradise theme with a rebirth/regrowth garden theme. Rather than rich and warming like the winter menu, these drinks will be refreshing, light and summery.

The menu is still in development but we get a preview of a cocktail called The Beekeeper – a deliciously drinkable long cocktail with honey, apple, royal jelly, gin and ice with a fresh flower garnish. Like all the drinks at Elixir, it's got a deeper meaning to it; Andy created The Beekeeper to raise awareness of the decline in the honeybee population. Without bees (our chief pollinator) there's no fruit and vegetables. More to the point, there's no cocktails. Armageddon is closer than you think.

Andy makes us a drink he invented last night to stop himself dozing off when someone ordered a mojito. As yet unnamed, it's a shaken pear mojito with lemon and thyme foam. The customer drank it in seconds then ordered another. We agree.

The winter menu has a section in it called Elixirs – crystal waters that Andy makes in his own esoteric way and gives to customers wanting something more than an alcohol buzz. 'Clarity of thought', for example, or 'prosperity and success'. The crystal waters are staying and they will be joined by free, homemade tinctures influenced by Chinese medicine.

015The pine pollen tincture is one; made from the male spore of pine trees, it'll (possibly) give you virility and strength. The Astragalus tincture is another; this will (possibly) make you live longer by repairing your cells. It contains something called TA65 which is setting the pharmaceutical world alight with its (possible) anti-ageing properties. Says Andy, “I don't know how much TA65 is in this but I drink it every day, and I feel fucking amazing.”

Speaking of longer lives, how's that egg coming along? Andy presents it to us in a mist of dry ice, explaining where it gets its powers. It's a mix of the key elements of hot and cold, male and female, vodka and orange. He slices off the top; inside is a jelly-like substance that's going to make us live forever.

Well, it's five days later and we're all still alive. I guess we'll have to wait and see on the immortality front but one thing we can say for certain is that Elixir makes ace cocktails. Bonkers, yes, but bloody good. There's nowhere else quite like this in Manchester. Go now to try the old menu before it changes, and try the new summer menu from 21 June.

Elixir is on Deansgate, opposite John Rylands library.

This is a promotional article produced in association with Elixir.

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