A new cocktail bar from a former bars manager for Gordon Ramsay opens today, and is aiming to bring ‘seasonal’ cocktails to the city. Dan Berger grew up in Heaton Mersey, but has spent the bulk of his career working in some of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne and London.
Now he’s back in his hometown, and is hoping to replicate the success of bars like The Ned, the smart five-star hotel in the City of London, housed in the former Midland Bank HQ, where he worked as Head of Bars.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own venue ever since I started in the industry, but when I moved back to Manchester in 2018, I couldn’t find the right venue, and I was messed around on a few projects,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
His new project, Blinker, is now opening its doors on Spring Gardens, with the onus on seasonal ingredients and a menu that will be in constant flux – while still offering up the classics. May, for example, will feature cocktails with elements like mint, nectarine, pomegranate and rhubarb, which are all about to come into season.
“I would describe Blinker as a premium yet approachable drinking destination focusing on well made drinks with a fresh seasonal influence. For the first menu, we’re going to focus on British mint, stone fruits and nectarines. We’re also looking at rhubarb that is grown in Cheshire, as well as pomegranate as a back-up fruit while we wait for more strawberries to come into season,” he said.
“There’s been so many good bars in Manchester recently, but for me I wanted to be in a part of town where we’re not getting crossed over with late night drinks. I don’t want it to be known as a sort of super late night destination. It’s more about the quality.”
He added: “We’re just being very thoughtful about the way we’re preparing our drinks, because if we have the sweetness and acidity from the fruit flavor element of the drinks, then we don’t have to use as much citrus.
“I am working with a lot of brands who believe in me and the project so the support has been amazing and it’s the start of great relationships. Finding local fruit where possible will be fun to work with and my suppliers are ready to go to let me know when things are coming into season.”
Drinks this month will include the Nectarine Fix, featuring Seven Tails XO brandy, Chartreuse, nectarine and lime, and the Rhubarb Sour, using Olmeca tequila, dry orange, rhubarb, lime and egg white.
As for working under the fearsome Gordon Ramsay, he said: “Gordon Ramsay is actually a really nice guy, I couldn’t think of anyone better to work for. He was super supportive. The GR Group taught me how to interact with chefs and how the overall goal means teamwork.
“Curating drinks menus to compliment a top class food offering is crucial for the overall success of a restaurant business, both the food and drinks must work in harmony.” Berger plans to introduce the food menu by July.
He went on: “Lockdown gave me a lot of time to think about what I was doing and where I wanted to go. And, it was a now or never sort of moment. I thought I could never forgive myself if I grew old and didn’t try to do my own thing.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.