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New Cocktail Menu At All Star Lanes

Niamh Spence meets Las Vegas chic and dive bar soul at All Star Lanes

Published on April 9th 2014.


New Cocktail Menu At All Star Lanes
 

“Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” is a brilliant quote. One of those quotes you could, but probably shouldn’t, live your life by.

Whilst wine, beer and spirits all hit the spot, cocktails never fail to disappoint and there is usually one for everyone. So when All Star Lanes in the Great Northern invite me to preview their new menu, which will be launched in May, I don't need much persuasion.

We’re an American whisky bar by trade and we wanted a menu that accentuates that. This is the biggest menu we’ve ever had in the company and it’s all quality products. What we give out is the best, and that’s what makes us different to other venues

“We’ve already got an established American style that’s niche and boutique, despite being a chain,” explains All Star Lanes bar manager Alex McNeil when I arrive. “We wanted to play on that retro American theme we have currently established and offer even more fun, retro and classic cocktails.

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“Our new menu offers classics as well as having a tropical, South American feel to it which is perfect for summer.” Tropical? South American? In other words expect rum, and lots of it.

The new menu offers a wide range of drinks within sections such as classics, creations and everything tropical for the pirates amongst us. Even if you don’t see yourself as a kindred spirit to Jack Sparrow, there are only a few of us that don’t get along with rum.

But don’t expect Tiki, cocktail umbrellas or your drink to come set aflame in a hollowed out pineapple. All Star Lanes is not about embracing the Tiki culture that has already had great success in Manchester at venues such as Hula Lounge and Liars Club, but instead hopes for a flashier and more American style. “It’s Las Vegas chic…but with a dime bar soul,” smiles McNeil with a wink. “At our very heart we are a dive bar, and one that’s good for the soul.”

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Dive bars are a cut above the current trend in bars where speakeasy and prohibition have become buzzwords and clichés. All Star Lanes is Americana through and through and the bar-come-diner-come-bowling alley is what McNeil describes as “a party venue”. Their back to basics, straight to the hard liquor mentality is what McNeil wants to shine through in their new menu.

“We’re an American whisky bar by trade and we wanted a menu that accentuates that. This is the biggest menu we’ve ever had in the company and it’s all quality products. What we give out is the best, and that’s what makes us different to other venues,” says McNeil proudly. “We’re a fun dive bar but we are well trained too.”

Their previous cocktail menu fared well and some of their signature cocktails including ‘Roller girl’ are staying put. This new menu, a rehaul for both bar and diner, is set to offer something different whilst still focusing on what McNeil refers to as the “dive bar soul” at the heart of All Star Lanes. “This new menu is us showing who we really are. We’re continuing to do what we do with clean, simple flavours and building on that identity we had from years ago. But we’re doing it all whilst bringing something they don’t recognise.”

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“We’re giving beers and whiskies a big push and our aim is to educate our customers, but not force them. There is a massive focus with this menu on root and craft beers. We’re also pairing up beers with ryes and bourbons, including doing a beer and chaser of the month. We’ve got an excellent bar stock, that’s all top quality and we want to encourage people to go outside their comfort area. These are drinks they’re not going to get in any other bar.”

But if challenging yourself to delve into the world of whisky, bourbon and malts isn’t what you want then rest assured All Star Lanes will still be able to whip up something to suit your tastes. “All our staff our classically trained so they can always make you your standard mojitos and cosmopolitans too.”

However getting down to the ‘big boy stuff’, as McNeil refers to it, is half the fun of a dive bar. Bring on the cocktails.

Sweet Home Alabama Slammer

Southern Comfort, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon juice, orange juice, grenadine

“It’s light and refreshing, but it has a bit of a kick to it and it has a bit of sugar to sweeten,” explains McNeil. “It’s refreshing, no messing and no frills.”

Sweet and thirst quenching, the Sweet Home Alabama Slammer is a drink that goes down all too easily.

Buffalo Stampede

Vanilla, sugar, mint, bourbon Aperol, lemon juice

Considered a challenge on the taste buds by McNeil, the All Star Lanes version of a mint julep is classic style drinking for those of us who prefer the traditional concoctions. As with lots of drinks at All Star, it’s still designed to take you that little bit outside your comfort zone. “It gets you onto the big boy stuff,” says McNeil.

Pisco Inferno

Pisco brandy, Kings ginger liqueur, pink grapefruit juice, lemon juice, diluted honey

“It’s the marmite drink,” says McNeil. Dividing drinkers into two camps: ones who can’t get enough and ones who push the drink away like it’s burnt them. “It has stuff that you wouldn’t normally go for and is designed to challenge the taste buds.”

Taking influence from the traditional Sidecar cocktail with layered spirits, it’s yet another example of All Star Lanes stretching their Americana theme across everything they do. “It’s bizarre,” laughs McNeil. “But a good bizarre, and I like it.”

Kamaniwanalaya

Gold rum, dark rum, rum amaretto, pineapple juice, lime juice, passion fruit syrup and puree

The closest All Star Lanes offering to Tiki culture on the menu. Minus the flaming passion fruit and cocktail umbrella.

A mouthful in itself, you’ll find yourself only being able to order one or two before the tongue twister name proves a stumbling block. “If you can say it right first time I’ll give you a shot,” says McNeil. Can’t say fairer than that.

Voodoo

Sweet vermouth, gold rum, bitters, sugar syrup, lime juice, apple juice

Described by McNeil as “more for the grown ups”, the herby spice of this cocktail is one with an aftertaste, which doesn’t make you recoil, but instead brings you back for more. One of the cocktails designed to test taste buds and show exactly what All Star can do.

Burn The Baby Burn

Fireball whisky, Pernod absinthe, lime juice

“Do you know what? I’m going to make you a Burn The Baby Burn cocktail anyway,” says McNeil as he begins free pouring whisky into a glass. “Remember those fireball sweets you had as a kid?” asks McNeil. “This is it in cocktail form.”

A peppery taste that hits the back of your throat, this drink is not for those looking for sugary sweet cocktails. Despite the sharpness this cocktail is moreish, the spicy fireball whisky carries this drink and its flavour. Enough to almost make you forget you’re drinking absinthe. Almost.

The new cocktail menu will be available at All Star Lanes from the beginning of May.
All Star Lanes Manchester Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN Telephone: 0161 871 3600

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