Turtle Bay’s two locations in Northern Quarter and Oxford Road are always sure to provide us with a summer vibe all year round. The Caribbean-inspired rum bar and restaurant has always been a classic among students, especially during their late-night Happy Hour. However, you are not here to hear me go on about how Turtle Bay’s atmosphere transports you to your dream summer holiday. No, you are here because they are offering students a free £10 to spend during their late-night Happy Hour. This means two free cocktails!
You can understand the excitement and why my mate and I jumped at this opportunity. After weeks of coursework, this offer was a brilliant way to wind down. We decided to visit the Northern Quarter branch, which was criminally quiet. However, this did not stop us from enjoying ourselves because the staff set the tone; they were cheery, dancing, and overall friendly. We even befriended one of the bar staff, Alex — he is literally the coolest bartender and was not shy with the rum!
Being Turtle Bay regulars, we decided to try their newer cocktails first. All the new cocktails remained in theme with Turtle Bay’s classic Caribbean aesthetic, and we tried the Dessert Island, Tobago Tea, and the Tingwray. However, they also have two more brand new cocktails: the Caribbean Candy Sour and the Jamrock Punch.
Dessert Island (V)
This is their only non-vegan cocktail due to its inclusion of salted caramel sauce. In classic Turtle Bay fashion, it included rum on top of Tia Maria, cold brew coffee, salted caramel sauce, and vanilla.
This cocktail was so divine that we ordered it twice. The Dessert Island was essentially an alcoholic Starbucks iced coffee. I likened it to a liquid tiramisu. Genuinely worth trying one, two, or five times! My only problem with it is the same issue I have with any coffee that includes syrups — the sugar sinks straight to the bottom, making the end of this cocktail quite hard to drink.
Photo: Violet Robins @ The Mancunion
Tobago Tea (Ve)
Duppy white rum, vodka, tequila, gin & triple sec, grapefruit, mango, and fresh lime.
This was a relatively underwhelming drink. While it tasted like a mango Solero, I found that it just didn’t stand out. Even after mixing it, we realised that the flavours would pop up one after the other, making it an adventure of a drink. However, this had its downside as it meant that the alcohol came last and took short sips to finish off. It did remind me of a summer’s day, though — I could envision myself drinking this in a can in the middle of Platt Fields with an ice lolly.
Wray & Nephew, white rum, grapefruit, and fresh lime.
I was terrified to try this cocktail. Take it from someone who has worked in rum bars, Wray & Nephew is no joke — it has a 63% ABV. However, this was a surprisingly pleasant and refreshing drink. Of course, you will still taste the rum considering how strong it is, but it is also citrusy and reminded me of homemade lemonade. If you’re looking to go hard during the Late Night Happy Hour, I strongly suggest ordering the Tingwray.
The Mojito Showdown
My mate and I, both avid mojito enjoyers, were curious to try Turtle Bay’s two different types of mojito too: the Classic Mojito (Ve) and the Marley Mojito (Ve).
First up was the Classic Mojito. The taste of rum was strong in this one — I’m not sure if it was because the bartender over-poured or the quantities were off. This made it a very unpleasant experience to try and finish it. If you are new to mojitos, avoid this and opt for a vodka-based mojito instead. However, if you are a seasoned mojito enjoyer, it’s an interesting one to try.
The Marley Mojito was worse. I don’t know what possessed me to try this considering it was a melon-flavoured drink, and I’m usually quite anti-melon. However, I will give the Marley Mojito props and say it tasted like actual watermelon rather than the typical artificial melon flavour that I despise. You could hardly taste the alcohol in this one too, which can be positive or negative depending on whether you’re planning on going hard or having casual drinks. While I am biased against melon, this was definitely better than the Classic Mojito.
Overall, this is a fabulous night out. With the temperatures dropping, we are becoming highly nostalgic for boozy late summer nights again, and Turtle Bay’s Late Night Happy Hour delivers on bringing this memory back to life. The free £10 makes the night even better, especially considering that I think most of our student loans have run out by now. Let’s not mention how incredible the value for money is — during the happy hour, its 2-4-1 cocktails are all £9.40.
The only downside to my experience is that the happy hour is relatively short. While it states that it lasts from 9:30 PM until they close, the bar was shut down early. It did get in our way in tasting every new cocktail. However, I think this may have been our saving grace as we had a lot of Wray & Nephew and various types of rum by that point.
To claim the £10 before the end of November, click here!