If there’s one thing Manchester has embraced in recent months, it’s the pop up. Temporary by nature, these pop ups – whether cafés, bars, restaurants, markets or chocolate shops – are, more often than not, wonderful little pockets of diversity and innovation.
Last year, The Ski Club and the Oast House’s Christmas Teepee enlivened Spinningfields with a sprinkling of festive fairy-lit alpine magic, whilst the arrival of Bonbon Chocolate Workshop (read our review here) has added a touch of luxury and artisanal class to the Northern Quarter.
Now, for one month only, the Market Restaurant on 104 High Street will be host to a creative food and drink experience inspired by the unique heritage of Veracruz, Mexico: Kahlúa Coffee House.
The Kahlúa Coffee House is a joint venture between Kahlúa, the original Mexican coffee liqueur, and Manchester hospitality heroes The Liquorists, Coffee Circle and Teacup on Thomas St.
From Friday 29th March to April 28th, it will feature two floors of Mexican-inspired coffee cocktails, food, film nights and a speakeasy style VIP room, Salon de Kahlúa hosted by cocktail masters The Liquorists.
Downstairs, you can expect a bespoke sourced and roasted coffee menu; a selection of exclusive milkshakes, aqua frescas and cocktails; and “Peckish”, an original menu of game and poultry dishes and bar snacks created by John Quilter and the team behind Teacup.
The main draw is the house signature Kahlúa Espresso Martini, which we whole-heartedly recommend.
The Peckish menu, too, is full of eyebrow-raising delights, such as pigeon pockets with pomegranate seeds; duck soup (tender duck pulled & roasted with Asian spices & Enoki mushrooms); and the unusual, teeth-defying bacon, chilli and toasted pecan brittle.
Upstairs, entry to the VIP Salon de Kahlúa is by invitation or reservation only. On Thursdays and Fridays, twice-nightly, The Liquorists and Coffee Circle lead a free interactive cocktail masterclass, where guests can participate in a blind tasting of the four key ingredients of Kahlúa (which we now know to be coffee, cane spirit, caramel and vanilla), sample some classic cocktails with a twist, and get their shake on by taking on the challenge to create a Kahlúa Libre.
Thursdays will also see the Salon de Kahlúa host a weekly free film screening at 8pm: grab a cocktail and catch cult classic The Big Lebowski (in celebration of the White Russian); Frida (biopic of controversial Mexican surrealists artist Frida Kahlo); and Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup.
Admittance to the screenings is free of charge, no reservation required and offered on a first come first serve basis.
On our visit to the Salon de Kahlúa, we were most impressed by the unusual cocktail menu, which is full of creative Kahlúa-inflected variations on the theme of coffee: The Mocha, for example, is a “Mexican coke float garnished to the nines”. Made with Kahlúa, Olmeca Altos Reposado Tequila, cherry Cola and chocolate ice cream, it’s served in a glass tea cup with a retro candy-striped straw.
The level of creativity, invention and attention to detail on show at the Kahlúa Coffee House is precisely what helps to make Manchester such a stand-out destination in its own right. Catch it while you can.
Cocktail Masterclasses are held at 18.30 and 20.30 every Friday and Saturday. Classes will last one hour. Bookings can be made by for up to 10 people. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about a booking. For all the latest news follow @KahluaUK on Twitter.
Kahlúa Coffee House (11am – midnight Thursday – Saturday / 11am – 6pm Tuesday & Wednesday)
Salon de Kahlúa (5pm – late Thursday – Saturday)
Kahlúa Coffee House & Salon de Kahlúa, 104 High Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1HQ (from Friday 29th March until Sunday April 28th)
Words and images by Alaka Prodhan (@EchoingBronze)