Skip to main content

6th March 2024

Margarita Month at Zouk: All style, less substance

Zouk is offering a trio of Margaritas this February to celebrate Margarita Month; yet it seems like all the thought was put into presentation, and less into the drink itself
Margarita Month at Zouk: All style, less substance
Credit: Alexandra Baynes @ The Mancunion

Students have become all too used to glugging Lidl’s cheapest squash, coincidentally with Lidl’s cheapest vodka, in an effort to make one of the most economical cocktails imaginable: squadka. The idea of drinking an actual cocktail, shaken (not stirred) with quality ingredients being blended in quality equipment and hand-delivered by a polished-shoe, tie-wearing server seems intangible. Yet that’s exactly what I witnessed at Zouk Tea Bar & Grill. But was their cocktail better than Lidl’s?

February was Margarita month. A signature Mexican drink, Margaritas traditionally mix tequila with triple sec and lime, finished with a salted rim. Margaritas try to accommodate everyone’s taste palette by mixing together the iconic taste markers of sweet, sour, and salty. The short drink’s high concentration of alcohol makes it a favourite for many, including me.

Zouk, based on Chester Street in a popular student area near the Kimpton Clocktower, celebrated Margarita Month by adding three special Margarita blends to its cocktail list. Not that their cocktail list falls short – Zouk offers everything from ‘Pink Flamingo’ to ‘Heaven Hill,’ and their menu’s ingredients include Midori Melon, Homemade Hibiscus Syrup, and Passionfruit Caviar to name but a few.

Zouk offers Indian and Pakistani cuisine, with an extensive menu spanning two sides of A3. It has all the hallmarks of a nice, sophisticated restaurant: a kitchen guests can look into, dim lighting, and a bustling atmosphere. I went on a normal weekday evening, and Zouk was brimming with families and friends going out for a celebratory meal.

Credit: Alexandra Baynes @ The Mancunion

The three new Margaritas are like a three-course meal in themselves. Although we weren’t advised to (nor did the menu suggest we should), my friend and I decided that it made the most sense to start with the most savoury-sounding Margarita – imaginatively called Spicy Margarita – and work our way from Margarita Citrus to the finale, Watermelon Margarita. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you want to be triple-parked, this order makes the most sense.

Starting with the Spicy Margarita – let’s just say the clue’s in the name. Although this specific variety is one of my favourite drinks – usually the first I order at Southside in Withington – it quickly became one which needed to be chased with water. I’m unsure as to whether it was blended correctly, as there seemed to be chunks of spice granules which cut through the initial enjoyment to instead burn my throat. However, when this didn’t happen the drink was enjoyable; and the slice of mango complemented the shrimp and tomato canape really well.

Credit: Alexandra Baynes @ The Mancunion.

The Margarita Citrus proved to be for a much more delicate palette, cutting through the spice with sweetness instead. This would be perfect if you preferred sweeter, fruity cocktails, as the drink balanced the two. Like the Spicy Margarita, the Citrus one was served with a Caesar salad and shrimp canape, which looked delicious but didn’t offer the greatest dietary choice if you’re, like me, not a huge fan of fish.

Finishing with the Watermelon Margarita… I’d argue that this was a bit of a loose take on a classic Margarita. Its taste couldn’t be further from rainy Manchester; it transported me to being age seven having poolside fruit juices on a family holiday, except Zouk’s didn’t seem to have a splash of alcohol in it. In this third and final round, I really wanted to finish with a bang, but the soft gulab jamun cheesecake was the only part I really enjoyed.

Credit: Alexandra Baynes @ The Mancunion

To me, Zouk’s Margarita Month’s selling point is the fact that the trio of drinks were served on individual trays, with a canape on the side. This made the drinks feel more like a three-part experience, as I was (happily) forced to take longer to drink and eat the items on each individual tray. It especially contrasted a student’s typical ‘down it and onto the next’ drinking style.

Although we didn’t order food, we did see the waiters whizz past with trays loaded full of steaming naan bread and colourful curries. While I wouldn’t necessarily go back to Zouk for the Margaritas specifically, I definitely would for the food.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Zouk is definitely on the more expensive side of student dining, with the trio of Margaritas costing £10 each; while the average (and admittedly extravagant) cocktail costs £12. From the looks of other diners, it seems like the type of place you’d venture into to celebrate something, rather than wander in on a whim – as students can’t easily afford this kind of whim.

It’s evident that the dining experience at Zouk is popular; pretty much all of the tables near us were filled by 8pm, and by celebratory parties of people too. Maybe it’s a good thing that Margarita Month lasts for exactly that – a month – as it’s clear that that is not the main reason why people choose to go to Zouk. The food looked like both style and sustenance; the Margaritas, less so.

Alexandra Baynes

Alexandra Baynes

Head Editor of Opinion Section. Radio Host on Fuse FM. Twitter: @lexiebayness

More Coverage

TikTok and Teatox: Why social media is sucking the joy out of food

From ‘What I Eat in a Day’ videos to fad diet trends, social media’s rampant championing of toxic diet culture needs to stop

Flight Club: Margarita Month with a twist

We headed to Flight Club to try their special cocktails in honour of Margarita Month, from Mango Margs to Spicy Picantes

The concept of small plate dining

Tapas, dim sum, chaat, meze, banchan and more!

A brewing success: Withington’s new Something More Productive

Stepping into Withington’s newly treasured coffee spot, we speak to the owner of Something More Productive