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Essential Journal

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Drinking with: Dishoom

Old-world grandeur meets next-level Gimlets at Dishoom Manchester’s Irani-inspired Permit Room

words by Will HALBERT

The Great Escape
To step inside the hallowed halls of Dishoom’s Manchester site (a listed, former-masonic lodge) is first and foremost, to step into a rich and winding narrative. To drink or dine at Dishoom is to take a seat in the post-war grandeur of the great Irani cafés of the 1920s. That is to say that there is an intrigue at play at Dishoom, a narrative. It’s not in-your-face, and it’s certainly no gimmick, but it is charming. Dishoom boasts an attention to detail and an eye for narrative (not to mention a food and drinks menu) that transports us from the hustle and bustle of the Deansgate streets outside to a time of hawkers, hucksters and peddlers. A place of intrigue and clandestine talks. Or you know, just some great food and a damn good cocktail.

Honouring the Greats
East India Gimlet 

For all the visual flair and unchecked, verbal pyrotechnics that have come to define the modern day cocktail menu, there’s no denying that you just can’t beat a classic. Simple in its execution, modest in its ingredients, and subtle in its flavours, the humble Gimlet is exactly that. Rumour has it that the Gimlet is so classic, if fact, that it was originally concocted to help sailors fight off scurvy. A simple mix of London Dry Gin, Rose’s lime and a touch of celery, Dishoom’s East India Gimlet honours the perfect simplicity of the original whilst also providing its own, subtle elevation. Not a spec of dry ice in sight and we couldn’t be happier about it. If you haven’t already replaced your Gin & Tonic with the Gimlet this summer then feel free to do so now. Thank us later.

Masonic Mixology

With such a rich narrative underpinning Dishoom’s whole operation, it comes as no surprise that the building in which they’ve decided to set up shop should have as rich a narrative and as compelling a history as that laid out in the restaurant’s already fabled menus.

Once closed to the public by order of the ancient brotherhood of the Freemasons, the Grade II-listed Manchester Hall stands as both a link to a secret past and a gateway to Dishoom’s out-of-this-world drinking and dining experiences.

Manchester Hall is heralded as one of the most ambitious Freemasn’s halls still standing in the UK. Designed by Percy Scott Worthington almost a century ago, the building boasts a stripped-back but confidently imposing aesthetic, giving little away as to the clandestine wonders that lie within. 

By all accounts, it’s a perfect fit for the mystique and charm for which Dishoom has become so famous over the years. Accordingly, Dishoom have opted to honour the building’s past by introducing a few features from India’s own Masonic brotherhood. The floor is an exact replica of the District Grand Masonic Lodge of Bombay, and portraits of the order’s
Grand Master Masons have been commissioned to adorn the walls of what was once the Freemason’s Derby Room.

Backstory aside, it’s clear that Dishoom’s style and grandeur speak for themselves, but it does offer some food for thought for those who like their Gimlets garnished with a little historical gravitas.

Libation Education
Pegs & Paanch

Let it never be said that drinking with The Essential Journal isn’t an educational experience. On the contrary, lessons abound when you drink with us. For instance, did you know that the term ‘punch’ comes from the Hindi word ‘paanch’ meaning ‘five’, as in five ingredients? Did you also know that a ‘peg’ refers to a measure of alcohol originally given to miners after a hard day’s work under the Britsh Raj? You’re now equipped with all the knowledge you need to navigate the Pegs & Paanch section of the Permit Room menu. Our recommendation? Celebrate your newfound knowledge with Dishoom’s IPA Paanch. An intensely floral hit of hop-infused, black-tea-steeped gin is quickly mellowed by the silky smooth charm of a little jaggery (think caramel meets maple syrup). A few spices and a dash of Ardbeg balance things out by bringing a little smoke to the party. It’s the smart choice.