Whilst I’m prone to a late night shuffle in The Blues Kitchen’s club room, I hadn’t yet enjoyed their fancy cocktails and food in the downstairs bar area. We’re students, after all, and £11 cocktails don’t always fit in the budget.
So, when The Mancunion was given the opportunity to try The Blues Kitchen’s all-new Friday happy hour, I jumped at the offer.
This February, from 5-7 pm on Fridays, The Blues Kitchen is offering £6 cocktails and handing out 1000 free chicken wings! Is there a better way to wind down from a week of uni than indulging in free food, cheap cocktails, and live music? Certainly not.
When we first arrived, the venue’s atmosphere was electric. Despite it only being 6 pm, The Blues Kitchen was buzzing with people and bursting out funky tunes, making it the ideal spot for pres before heading ‘out out’.
Our first round of drinks was the Ginger Mojito and the Passionfruit Zombie. I didn’t think the classic mojito could get any better, but The Blues Kitchen proved me wrong.
The unconventional ginger paired perfectly with the lime and fresh mint to produce a balanced and refreshing drink. Neither too sweet nor sour, the spiced rum and ginger added a warm undertone to the mojito, making it the ideal drink to enjoy during the colder months. Proceeding to order two more for myself, I was a very happy girl (although not so much the next morning…).
Whilst the Passionfruit Zombie was bursting with flavour, it certainly took me by surprise. Composed of rum, passionfruit, grapefruit, and lime juices, this cocktail was pretty bitter. So, if you’re used to the playful Las Iguanas-style Zombie, be aware to expect something less sweet and rather more sophisticated.
Next up, we tried the Lychee Martini and The Fluffy Gin Sour. Comprised of gin, lychee, and citrus, the Lychee Martini is a powerful drink. Whilst the drink’s overriding floral taste was too intense for my own liking, this is the ideal drink for lychee lovers.
The Fluffy Gin Sour, on the other hand, was right up my alley. Combining gin, herbal liqueur, vermouth, cucumber, and lemon, this cocktail was crisp and citrusy. The layer of foam on top cuts through the drink’s sharpness, balancing out the flavours to produce a fun-yet-fancy cocktail.
After two cocktails each, we started to feel peckish. Unfortunately, though we could see free chicken wings being served in the bar section, none arrived at our table. Given that our table was at the back of the room, this probably didn’t help. So, if you want to get your free chicken wings, position yourself close to the bar or kitchen!
Whilst the lack of free chicken wings was disappointing, the live music certainly made up for it. The venue’s low lighting and compact tables create an intimate atmosphere, making customers feel part of the performance itself. From songs by Chuck Berry to Dua Lipa, the eclectic mix of live music is guaranteed to meet everyone’s taste. The band and vocals were so impressive that we found ourselves staying hours later than we had initially planned. And if the live band doesn’t hit the spot for you downstairs, then try the club room upstairs, where there is even more live music on offer!
Our final round of drinks consisted of the classic Espresso Martini and the adventurous Fig Negroni. One thing to note about The Blues Kitchen’s cocktails is that they don’t skip out on flavour and alcohol. Every drink is vibrant and powerful.
This was certainly the case for the Espresso Martini, which is certainly not a drink for the weak. If you like your coffee strong or you’re struggling to stay awake, this cocktail is for you. Consisting of both coffee liqueur and roasted coffee, this cocktail will keep you buzzing throughout the evening. Whilst I struggled to overcome the drink’s bitterness and strength at first, I soon found myself enjoying its rich, creamy texture.
Personally, I found the Fig Negroni less enjoyable, but that’s only because I loathe Campari (I’m a terrible judge of a negroni). Despite this, the fig liqueur enhanced the cocktail’s fruity notes and complimented its bitter taste nicely.
Too enthralled by the live music and atmosphere to leave, we decided to order some small plates from the bar menu. We opted for the Buffalo Chickens Wing (£8.75), Crispy Cauli Bites (£7.75), and Cajun Popcorn Squid (£9.75). Despite the venue heaving with people, the service was still great, and the staff were super friendly.
The Buffalo Chicken Wings were slathered in a tangy sauce and paired with a rich blue cheese dip. Despite my initial hesitance surrounding the choice of cheese, this dip turned out to compliment the wings nicely, mellowing their spice and adding a layer of flavour that made each bite feel indulgent.
The Crispy Cauli Bites are a great vegan option. Seasoned with coriander, chives, chilli, sumac, and turmeric salt, these nibbles are packed with warming flavours.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Cajun Popcorn Squid. Decorated with chillies and spring onion, and paired with a red-eyed mayo dip, the crispy squid had a delicious kick of heat. Our only criticism was that the batter for the Crispy Cauli Bites and Cajun Popcorn Squid was quite greasy, meaning that we became full very quickly and struggled to finish the plates. On the plus side, however, the portions were generous, so we felt like we got our money’s worth.
Overall, I would highly recommend heading down to The Blues Kitchen this February to try out their tempting Friday happy hour. Offering free entry, free food, free live music, and £6 cocktails, you’re not going to find a more bougie bargain in Manchester!
Check out The Blues Kitchen’s website to find out more.