Ok…so as I may have mentioned in my ‘about me‘ blurb, this blog is prone to a bit of randomness; and I bet, based on some of the posts, you may have thought it was pretty random anyway! The Octopus Diaries is first and foremost about dining out, however sometimes I come across (yes…ok so I go out of my way to seek out!!) dining or drinking experiences that I really can’t categorise but have to write about, simply because they are so damn weird, wonderful or uniquely random.
The Washhouse in Manchester would most certainly come under this group of posts, because as far as ‘speakeasy’ bars go, this is definitely the strangest and ‘so far’ the most inspired one I have been to yet. I mean why would you not go for a few secret cocktails in a launderette?
Ok first things first…a spot of investigative work is necessary. I think over the couple of years that they have been open the need for this has become a little less; but based on their fantastic website, information is limited. Still the excitement of a secret bar and a challenge, and I was already drawn in.
Now you can’t just turn up, it is reservation only. I’m not going to take the fun out of this for you, but while I do have a slightly ‘out there’ sense of humour, when somebody is asking if you want to book a service wash and informs you how long you will have a washing machine for; well…I was still laughing about it half an hour later! I have to say I did absolutely love all the small touches that led up to this visit.
Just about containing my excitement, and having traipsed around Manchester for about 20 minutes (clearly it’s secret for a reason); although I can’t work sat navs while walking! We finally arrived to a seemingly innocent looking launderette containing a couple of washer driers, a large ‘door like’ washing machine in the corner and a 1970’s style telephone on the far wall. Surreal didn’t even come close! As for what happens next, I am simply going to say, you need to go.
Meanwhile in another dimension…
You arrive at The Washhouse – low lighting, leather clad seating in intimate booths, with very attentive table service awaits you – along with a cocktail list to rival all lists. Well thought out, and with what I have to say the fantastic branding continued throughout, I really didn’t have a clue what to drink.
The list is divided into sections, which does make it a little easier, but I knew at an average £10 per drink we had to ‘choose wisely’ to experience The Holy Grail of cocktails!
First up and apparently ‘to ease you in’…
Let Them Eat Cake | Portabello Road Gin, Haymans Sloe Gin, Briottet elderflower and cardamom infused apple juice served with mini Batternburg. A fragrant and creamy cocktail with a good slug of gin. I loved the addition of the cake!
The Real Thing | Ketel one vodka, Mozart dark chocolate liqueur, Bepi Tosolini coffee with honeycomb ice cream and Coca Cola. A little too sweet for me, but amazing to behold.
Once eased in, we apparently needed to loosen up (based on the names of these, I started to get a little worried as to what type of bar this actually was – ha ha)
50ish Shades | Prosecco, Sherry, rose and Ish – this is gin that apparently makes Christian Grey look like an amateur. All I know is that it had a beautiful floral touch, tasted amazing and was my favourite cocktail from the evening. Trying to handcuff my fingers together was fun too…ok I may have had a touch too much to drink by that point!
Chocolate Three Way | Maxim Trijol Cognac gets into bed with Mozart chocolate liqueur, raspberry briottet and a hint of smoked sea salt. Served with champagne truffle and coco blow, this was an explosion of creamy chocolate and inspired, even if you did end up with it all over and up your nose!
Four cocktails down and unfortunately our time in The Washhouse was up, but I can honestly say it was a visit that I will be raving about for sometime. Yes, at the end of the day it is a bar, but as drinking ‘experiences’ go from start to finish, it was just amazingly different.
Rating on the Foodie Randomness Scale*
Inspired and wonderfully unconventional
*please refer to Foodie Randomness ratings
Would I go again?
If I am ever back up in Manchester, it would be a 100% yes. Ok so I know all the secrets now, but it’s a fun experience and I am all for that.
Would I recommend The Washhouse?
If you like a challenge, and unlocking secret worlds (just to note this isn’t like Super Mario!) I would definitely recommend this launderette. Without a reservation you won’t get in though, and keep a debit/credit card handy when you call, you will need one to secure your washing machine.
Telephone | 0161 839 5287
Web | www.the-washhouse.co.uk