Liam Manton and Amy Harrison, owners of Finders Keepers are obsessed with cocktails. Last week, wearing a flamboyant electric blue double-breasted suit like something from a Duran Duran video, Liam showed Finest around his new favourite place to drink them.
“This is like Mexico in a glass,” he says of one concoction, which has a sea salt foam floating on the pale green mescal-based liquid below, a smart take on the classic, salt-rimmed marg. “That foam is like the foam you get floating on the sea.”
It’s a high concept drink – it tastes fantastic, by the way – but then again cocktails in Manchester have become a pretty serious business in the past couple of years.
Speak In Code, Schofield’s, Blinker, Sterling, 10 Tib Lane, 97 – all places to have emerged since lockdown that are taking the craft very, very seriously indeed. In a couple of short years, some of them have been named the best places to imbibe in the UK. So, the bar has been set very high.
Luckily for Liam and Amy, their team have worked at quite a few of these places already and have hit the ground running. The menu has been developed by renowned Manchester bartenders including, Jonny Moncur, who was head bartender at Speak in Code for several years and was recently shortlisted for Bartender of the Year at this year’s Manchester Bar Awards. He’ll be working alongside Jack Daniels (we kid you not), former Head Bartender of Wood Restaurant. Finders Keepers will also be offering a small selection of carefully curated bar snacks to pair with their cocktails.
Also, luckily, they’re in a great spot – on Keepers Quay (Finders Keepers, geddit?) – right next to the widely adored Flawd, which notably, while it does do spectacular small plates and excellent wine, does not do cocktails.
So, Liam and Amy saw a gap in the market, and in the space of three months since they got the keys, have turned this empty shell of a unit into a bar. “This is our first brick and mortar venture, and we feel weirdly calm,” says Liam. “Mind you, two minutes before you came here, I was drilling a hole in the wall for some cabling in my suit. We’ve literally been here every night, till 10 or 11.”
“We’ve drank in a lot of world class bars, and there are a lot of world class bars in Manchester, so we know what we like and what we don’t like. There’s small things. Every single seat in this bar has a coat hook. Minor details but they make the experience that little bit more comfortable.”
The pair of them are already ‘in the business’. Famously, Liam and his business partner Mark appeared on Dragons’ Den a few years back, seeking funding for their new venture, Didsbury Gin. They got the money too, from Hyde-born entrepreneur Jenny Campbell, who handily went to school in Didsbury. She remains chairman of the board of their company Aldermans Drinks, which includes its sister brand, ARLU rum.
But even before they’d got to the Den, they’d already managed to get it stocked in Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, and as of 2021, they’d hit £3 million in sales, with Vogue calling it ‘one of the most exciting new British gins’. The gin is now stocked all over, recently Denmark and the UAE, and now even on Easyjet flights. Amy, meanwhile, has worked in hospitality marketing her whole career. So this place should work like clockwork.
“We live round the corner, so we’re on the marina all the time, we’re in Flawd, we go to House of Esk, we go to Cask,” says Amy. “But for us, there’s just been something missing, and if we want a cocktail, we end up at Schofield’s, or Blinker, or 10 Tib Lane.”
“So, are you saying this is a venture born out of sheer laziness?” asks Liam. It could be. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. Amy laughs. “Well, everyone who’s walked past has asked ‘why hasn’t someone done this before’?” she says. Sounds like they’re onto something.
The menu, which is being kept secret until they open on Bank Holiday weekend, is made up of their own bespoke creations – other than the Aviation, Amy’s favourite – though of course if you want a straight up Martini or a Manhattan, they’ll make one for you, and all the classics will be available.
“Doing stuff like this is fun,” Liam says. “It keeps you grey, it keeps you sleepless! But life’s too short to sit on ideas. Just roll the dice and do it.”
Finders Keepers officially opens on Friday 25th August at 3pm, and the first 30 people through the door on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will get a free glass of fizz on arrival.
They’ll also be open on bank holiday Monday.
Regular opening hours after the launch weekend will be 3pm-11pm Wednesday and Thursday, 3pm-12am Friday, 12pm-12am Saturday, and 12pm-10pm on Sundays.
Finders Keepers, Keepers Quay, New Islington Marina, M4 6FQ