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Under New Management Reviewed

David Blake values a Salford bar that's harder to find than the Higgs boson

Written by . Published on April 24th 2014.


Under New Management Reviewed
 

THE WORD cocktail has been creeping its way up the ‘Most Tiresome Words’ pile for some time now, alongside:

Literally, selfie, coalition, swanky, hacking, fracking, decadent, expenses, synergy, hub, Pistorious, EU, Miliband, beard, Essex and Mo Farah.

Follow cocktail with ‘masterclass’ or ‘mixologist’ and I’m out the window. Off the bridge. Under the train.

There's a saying amongst bar tenders, one that I have either picked up or made up for the convenience of this review, but the crux is this: 'If you want a good bar, drink where bartenders drink'

Of course, the cocktail is nothing new.

Long thought to be an American invention, the word ‘cock-tail’ actually first appeared in London’s now defunct Morning Post and Gazetter back in 1798. Then came Jerry ‘Father of Bartending’ Thomas in the 1850s, 20s Prohibition America, James Bond knocking back martinis from the 50s and Tom Cruise doing the Hippy Shake in the 80s.

It’s not that there’s anything suddenly wrong with cocktails. The humble gin and tonic is technically a cocktail and if you tried to take that from me I’d claw at your scalp with the ferocity of a Northern Goshawk.

Under New ManagementUnder New Management

But the resurgence of cocktail culture over the past decade, buoyed in Manchester by the arrival and bravado of Beau ‘Almost Famous’ Myers’ Socio Rehab in 2004 and the ascension of the Spinningfields drinking scene through Living Ventures CEO Tim Bacon (both started out as cocktail bar tenders by the way) has paved the way for a great number of regurgitated and half-arsed bars to dive on the coattails, reproduce at the rate of a coked-up rabbit and sling out battery acid mixed with skittles for £8 a pop.

Cocktails are creeping up everywhere, and they're increasingly lacking.

That’s why we should thank the stars for bars such as Under New Management (UNM). A gritty, stripped-back, alleyway bar focussing on meat over pageantry.

Ignoring the crap name (‘Meet you at Under New Management’ rolls off the tongue like a tractor), the reimagining of the former Corridor bar in Salford represents all that is good and true about an honest cocktail establishment.

Padlock factoryThe padlock factory

Firstly, it’s a complete bugger to find.

Far-surpassing the likes of Northern Quarter’s back-alley Montpellier’s bar, or even the elusive Twenty Twenty Two venue, you’re going to need an Aboriginal tracker to find UNM.

The bar lays down a ginnel named Barlows Croft behind the Rovers Return on Chapel Street. But for a small blue sign and two no-necks outside (at weekends), you'd be forgiven for walking straight by.

It looks like the kind of place that'd make padlocks, or perhaps stage illegal bare-knuckle fights. Think Snatch.

Still, the point is this. A bar in Salford that's harder to find than the Higgs-Boson particle with the face of a padlock factory could not survive without good reason. Well, there's a few.

The bar is overseen by Brody (formerly of Liars Club and Manchester House), a raconteur that not only knows his way around a tumbler, but is so darn chipper I'd let him take my gran out for a walk. If I wasn't convinced he'd get her pissed.

BrodyBrody

The menu here is refreshingly scant. One-page of A4 attached to a wooden board with fifteen cocktails (all £7.50) in big, bold writing. We like that. Cut out the nonsense. Too often you'll find bars seventeen deep because dingbats have been given too much choice and too bigger menu. Give it to 'em straight and move 'em on.

The Hot Rod (with toy car, main image), a cocktail of sweet bourbon, cherry, vanilla and lemon was a touch too sweet and over too quickly. The Cuckoo Clock however, with dry gin, lemon, egg white and orange bitters (a house favourite) was a corker. I'd have happily drifted back home in a river of the stuff.

The handsome back-bar comes well-endowed and the beer selection remains rolling until they sell out, this visit there's Pacifico, Brooklyn, Sam Adams, Heineken and an interesting Goose Island from Chicago.

Terminal seatingTerminal seating

There's a saying amongst bar tenders, one that I have either picked up or made up for the convenience of this review, but the crux is this: 'If you want a good bar, drink where bartenders drink'.

It's true. The most recent examples being Kosmonaut and Liars Club, which relied on trade from industry types in the cold nights of their infant months before the hordes took hold.

The same is true of UNM. But being on the very peripheries of the city centre and the wrong side of the Irwell, the bar has managed for months (years as Corridor) to fly under the radar. Actually, it's scarcely taken off.

Still, you feel that's how the patrons like it here (probably not the operators).

Inside it's raw, dark and barren. A cave in much need of love and money. The bar hogs the limelight upfront while a snug at the back lays uninhabited and dormant, tea lights flicker over tired tables and airport terminal seating. Bums scatter the walls.

But it works. It's rough around the edges, abrasive in parts, an outlaws bar. Sitting on the very edge of the city centre, it's a refuge for scoundrels, late-night home stumblers and after-hours bar tenders, a remedy to the pomp and sparkly glass-fronted narcissism of the Manchester Houses and Neighbourhoods.

But then, I'd sooner drink a pint of Chernobyl puddle water than a cocktail in Neighbourhood.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.=

Follow @David8Blake

Under New Management, Barlows Croft, Salford. M3 5DY

Open: Mon-Weds 5pm-1am, Thurs 5pm-2am, Fri 5pm-4am, Sat 7pm-4am and Sun 7pm-1am

@corridor_bar

Rating: 13/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Drinks: 4/5 Sharp

Service: 4/5 Quick and cheery

Ambience: 2/5 Roguish

Concept: 3/5 Needs some love 

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.

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

HarveylousApril 24th 2014.

I have always loved Corridor Bar, I love the fact not many people know about it. It's never annoyingly rammed, like those in the NQ. I like that behind the basic brick wall frontage it's surprisingly cool, yet unpretentious and I have always enjoyed the cocktails. Since it has come Under New Management (awful name) something has changed, for the worst. After trying a couple of cocktails on the sparse new menu, but not enjoying them, I asked for a Mojito (they used to do a lovely signature Mojito) and was met with the sort of disdain you get when asking for a well done steak at a posh restaurant (which I wouldn't do, but now I know how that feels). I thought they’d be more accommodating, and as Corridor I don’t doubt they would have been……and considering there were only about 6 people in there I wouldn’t have thought they could afford to annoy the customers, especially the loyal ones!

GetitrightApril 24th 2014.

Socio Rehab was opened by both Ian Morgan and Beau Myers as a joint venture.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
P. DanticApril 24th 2014.

*sigh*

GetitrightApril 24th 2014.

Why am I being a pedant? Socio Rehab was one of the bars which successfully kickstarted the cocktail renaissance in the NQ. Given it's importance in the bar scene in Manchester, surely it's right to give credit where credit's due?

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

Can I add 'lush' to the 'Most Tiresome Words' pile? Everytime it comes out of Sadsack Kerridge's cake hole I get a little angrier.

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

Corridor was a great bar. (And by the way...it was probably open 5 years ago, so not exactly breaking news on the location!) It was a little more pared down and to the point than many others in town. It never seemed to be trying too hard. Since it changed it has tried to emulate the well trodden path of "look at me I'm so cool because i'm all random and quirky" vibe of places like hula, tiki, liars, original almost famous...but it's years too late. It's no where near as good as it was. They changed the music and the drinks, and seemed to be doing everything to be as similar as possible to a load of other places. Being tucked away was great - but only married with its slightly different feel. Now it's just an average bar in a poor location. RIP corridor!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 29th 2014.

Spot on.

Captain BullyApril 24th 2014.

I love what these guys are doing with drinks! You didn't mention that the drinks menu rotates every 6-8 weeks or so and that all these drinks are original and (nearly) every ingredient is made in house. I don't see how you can call a drinks menu with 15 cocktails sparse, plus I've been there and seen the lads make a drink to a customers requests so I definitely wouldn't label this place as elitist or pretentious. Maybe instead of asking for a Mojito (pretty much every bartenders most loathed drink) you could have broadened your horizons and tried something more adventurous, or even chatted to the bar staff a bit and told them what you do and don't like. Well done to Brodie and Adam, Keep on doing what you're doing!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

Oh, I didn't realise the point of people paying good money to drink in a bar was to only order things that the bartenders like making. Fancy going in a cocktail bar and ordering a mojito, eh!

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

I'm with anon above, the mojito is the world's most popular cocktail, go to any top bar in any city around the globe you should expect to be able to order a mojito, and 15 cocktails is pretty sparse

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

This bar thinks its a lot of itself. It's deluded.

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

A mojito is a basic. Ok not edgy new vibe, but if that's what you like then fine. They still should be able to manage it. It's not like your asking for a something that complicated its unheard of.

AnonymousApril 25th 2014.

used to go to corridor lots when I lived at the Edge, loved that place and will miss Lipstick Jungle dearly :<

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