The last time I visited The Living Room was, er, quite some time ago.
It was a Christmas works do, and in the blur that follows (yes, it was that long ago) all I can remember is feeling that the glamour was there, but it was a bit tired and, well, dark. Let’s face it, we can spend a lot of time over here in the UK under dark skies. Lighter venues, especially in winter, are always more appealing.
And still a couple of years later, my overwhelming memory is of how dark it was – closed, almost oppressive.
Not any more.
Gone is all the dark, heavy wood and emphasis on black. Instead it’s lighter, brighter – still with the hints of glamour, glitz and gold – but everything feels lighter and brighter.
The upstairs is now an open mezzanine, allowing more light to flow down into the main bar, which itself has undergone a transformation, with hints of geometric patterns and pastel colours.
Oh, and did I mention the addition of two new bars?
The first is the Grey Goose Lounge – serving, yep you’ve guessed it, a range of drinks using Grey Goose – including an old favourite of mine, Le Fizz with elderflower, and prosecco. And I suspect I could get my perfect vodka Martini here, just like I did in their camionette, the last time it stopped by Harvey Nichols.
But it’s the second ‘secret’ bar that’s been causing a lot of fuss! After all, when Mr Beckham himself comes to open it you can bet it’s going to cause a stir.
This second bar has a Haig Clubman feel – lots of deep, rich blue, plush seating and of course, Beckham’s signature on the wall (at the time of my visit, this was being carefully protected and will be covered with a clear frame to avoid damage).
Along with the total revamp of the venue, comes a total revamp of the menus. And I was lucky enough to head in to not only sample, but make some of those that made it onto the cocktail menu.
Though I’m very aware of which side of the bar I’m more comfortable on (the one where I can sit and chat to the bartender obviously), this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Particularly as the drink I selected to make was the Haig Clubman twist on a Negroni – one of my favourite (normally gin based) cocktails.
Free pouring is the method of making these drinks in The Living Room, and a steady counted pour worked to bring together the ingredients into the cocktail – simply Haig Clubman, Campari and Martini Rosso.
Garnish with a little orange peel, and you have something a little lighter than the gin-based original, but nonetheless still packing a punch and perfect as an after dinner sipper cocktail.
Of course the after dinner cocktail, particularly as an alternative to a dessert, is something that’s picking up popularity, and The Living Room have their own treats on offer.
If, like me, you love a cherry Bakewell, then the sweet, rich and fruity My Little Cupcake is going to be perfect. Absolut Raspberry, Disaronno, and cherry syrup are blended with cranberry and lime which lift the drink from being overly sweet. Top with spray cream, and a cherry.
However, it’s this pretty concoction that will suit those who love something more chocolatey.
Say hello to the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. A rich blend of Absolut Vanilla, Creme de Cacao, Khalua, chocolate syrup, milk and cream, it’s a chocolate brownie in a glass, and comes with a garnish of… Yes you’ve guessed it, chocolate brownie.
Though I’ve yet to pop by for dinner following the update, the new look to The Living Room is very welcome. As one of our most well established venues on Deansgate, this can only help cement it’s status in the city.
With thanks to The Living Room for the invitation to visit and play behind the bar!