Food profile - Three Little Words, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 12:15 13 December 2019
Great food, fabulous gins… and a voyage of discovery ending in a bottle of the good stuff
When I discovered that Manchester Gin, makers of the finest Raspberry Gin I have ever enjoyed, were opening a restaurant-bar-distillery in Manchester I was quite thrilled. Surely no signature serve could be better served than in a space just meters from where it's actually made? Then I discovered that I could also have a distillery experience that includes MAKING A BOTTLE OF GIN and rushed to book, persuading a friend (it didn't take much) to join me for possibly the most fun Saturday of the year.
For the full experience, we decided to dine first, and I am very glad we did. Our lunch was deeply satisfying. Amanda chose a burger and when I am unable to decide between pork belly or crispy duck leg, our server Jake - who is passionate and knowledgeable and always there when you need him - advised the pork, his own current favourite. Amanda's burger was pronounced wonderful; beautifully home-made style, with crispy edges and soft, just cooked centre, served with spicy mayo, Monterey Jack cheese and a brioche bun. My dish was a little more fancy, but no less packed with flavour. Perfectly cooked to a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture, it had a fine top of crackling and was accompanied by roasted fennel, apple and a gorgeous gravy. On Jake's fervid recommendation, I chose a sweet potato side, baked in its skin and topped with crispy fries - utter heaven. For dessert we shared a Port Sticky Toffee Pudding with Blackcurrant and Liquorice ice-cream. Oh my, so, good!
The distillery sits next to the restaurant. Before we start on our own creations, we're introduced to the history of the brand and taken through how the magic happens.It's a mix of romance and science, and the presenter is positively vibrating with the joy of it all.
The gin school in front of the distillery is a Harry Potter-esque vision of tiny copper stills and shelves of jars filled with seeds, dried fruits and ground spices. We start with a tasting session, where we consider each of the gins in the Manchester Gin stable, which is both fascinating and delicious. Next, we're taken carefully through the steps we need to follow to create a gin that reflects what we believe will be the perfect mix of botanicals for our tastebuds. The impact of each botanical we can choose to use - and there are dozens - is detailed by our mentor and once our decisions are made, he gives us the precise weight of each one needed to suitably flavour our gin. Some are essential of course - the juniper is a legal requirement, or it's not gin, and then coriander seeds, angelica root and orris root are standard across most gins. Manchester Gin also contains botanicals of dandelion and burdock, and as we're all here because we love the gin, we add these too. Now to decide - do we like it sweet, or citrus? Shall we add something spicy, or fruity? I go for liquorice, for sweetness, almond for creaminess, and blackberry and elderberry for a hint of autumnal plenty. We can't taste our concoction immediately - we're advised to give it a few days before we taste, in fact, to let the whole combine into our finished gin. Three days later and... it's delicious! I am quite thrilled.
I had hoped for a grand day out and this is what we got - and then some. It makes the most perfect treat for a couple, or gift for a very important friend. I am dropping hints the size of bricks to hubby - after all, it's nearly Christmas!