While eating a lovely meal, I also decided to drink 87% of The Ivy Asia's cocktail menu... just for you.
Of course we all know what The Ivy is about, we’ve read the reviews, seen the interior and smelt the fire.
Personally I rather enjoyed my visit to the ‘Asia’ restaurant, but as Finest’s booze correspondent I felt obligated to try as many of their cocktails as was possible (before falling down the stairs on the way out) – just to make it easier for you when deciding what to drink. So here are my 5 favourites…
Featuring a hefty dose of Japan’s first artisanal gin, the Kyoto Lavender (£11.00) is a little bit more expensive than the other cocktails on the list, but it’s well worth the money. As I sat in The Ivy Asia, drinking this cocktail and taking notes, I ended up writing “like eating a sheet of Bounce but in a good way”. By this point I was certainly a little sozzled, but I still stand by this comment – the Kyoto Lavender is very fresh and very floral, especially with the strong lavender foam on top. It may be an acquired taste but once you start – it’ll be hard to stop.
Shikoku Lychee Spritz
Probably the quintessential oriental fruit, the lychee is everywhere in China, getting included in everything from breakfast dishes, desserts, drinks and probably even shower gel – they bloody love it. Also massive in China is Aloe Vera, especially with the introduction of all of those new fandangled health drinks that resemble semi-transparent sludge. Well, the Shikoku Lychee Spritz (£9.50) is nothing like that – it’s light, fresh and surprisingly tasty. Even coming from someone who isn’t usually a fan of lychee, I found it working fantastically with the gin and the final touch of prosecco is a stroke of genius.
Smoked Plum Negroni
This cocktail is probably the most well-known creation at The Ivy Asia, mostly due to the impressively Instagrammable bit of theatre that accompanies the Smoked Plum Negroni (£9.00) to your table. They’re really pushing the ‘smoked’ aspect of this Negroni as it arrives surrounded by smoke under a bell jar. But how does it taste? Well, with such a complex list of ingredients it’s surprisingly subtle, with light notes of plum coming through right at the end. I was confused as to what an English aperitivo was but it’s great – adding some rather complex flavours of grapefruit, ginseng and fennel to the drink and elevating it to the upper echelons of cocktail greatness.
Okay, so this one might not be to everybody’s tastes, especially considering how divisive coconut-based products can be. As a personal huge fan of all coconut related endeavours though, the Golden Fortune (£10.50) was certainly well up my street. With a mix of Prosecco, coconut liqueur and topped with a naughty coconut foam, this cocktail is both surprising and devilishly delicious. I’d never have ever thought to pair Prosecco with coconut but it’s a revelation, giving the dry fizz a subtle sweet nuttiness that’s difficult not to like.
The Spice of Life
The clear winner in this taste test, The Spice of Life (£9.50) certainly doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with Asia – but who cares when it’s this good? It’s more of a Mexican cocktail, mixed with a bit of the Caribbean as they start with a Pineapple rum and top it with chilli syrup, bitters, lime, mint and soda. The real winners here are both the chilli syrup which gives the cocktail a proper kick and the Xocolate mole bitters which lend a subtle chocolate taste to the concoction. If you’re still struggling to decide on a cocktail – have this. Have it now.
The Ivy, The Pavilion, Byrom Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HG
0161 503 3222