Drinking with Ivy Asia
Located on the second floor of The Ivy Manchester, Ivy Asia does things a little differently than its Spinningfield neighbours. The glitz and glamour of its glowing emerald, floor and its antique, gold-mirrored bar is offset by the poise and intelligence of its drinks offerings. Proving that extravagance needn’t come at the cost of sophistication, Ivy Asia is a welcomed addition to Manchester’s premium bar and restaurant scene
Words by Will HALBERT
Citric acid, manzana verde and coconut rum give the drink a crisp, clear appearance, while a little foam adds to the dessert-like splendour of the whole experience. Think boozy parma violets but without the sickly sweetness. More than just a well-balanced, moreish cocktail, the Kyoto Lavender is a shining example of the bar’s overall approach to cocktail-making. By focussing on a clean, minimal aesthetic that favours taste over theatre, Ivy Asia have come away with a menu that’s confident and club friendly without the typically tacky trappings you might have come to expect from a late bar. In short, it’s a crowd-pleaser with class and we’re all for it. EJ
The Secret Ingredient
The Japanese rice wine not only plays its part in a number of Ivy Asia’s cocktails (be sure to sample the Smoked Plum Negroni for a masterclass in sake-based decadence), but also finds a sacred spot on Ivy Asia’s permanent menu. If you’re new to sake in general, do yourself a favour and try HeavenSake Junmai Ginjo, a Franco-Japanese entry into the premium sake category. Boasting a bold, floral bouquet on the nose that’s quickly followed by hints of summer pears, red berries and muscat grapes on the palate, HeavenSake offers a softer, less acidic take on the traditional Japanese libation. EJ
The Ace in the Hole
The Japanese Whisky Collection
Touted as home to one of the widest selections of Japanese whisky in Manchester, Ivy Asia is a veritable treasure trove of all things malted and peated. Served in generous 50ml measures, Ivy Asia’s Japanese whisky catalogue ranges from the now-familiar to the exceptionally rare. Old friends like Nikka and Hibiki sit alongside lesser-known expressions like Togouchi 18yr Old and Yamazakura 963 8yr. More than anything, the Ivy Asia whisky menu serves as less of an indication of what’s on offer, and more of a list you’re going to want to work your way through. EJ
Get the Round in
Quickfire questions answered in the time it takes Ivy Asia’s bar manager to smoke up a Plum Negroni
So what’s your story, Luke?
Believe it or not, I’m from a shoe making background. It’s the family trade. I got into bartending early on and worked my way from barback to bar manager across a few different bars and companies. That’s the great thing about bartending; there’s so many ways of doing things and so many people to learn from. It’s all a case of being proactive.
A lot of your cocktails feature clear ice, and a pretty minimal aesthetic. Was that a conscious choice?
It was! Cocktails have started to lose their identity in a big way of late. All the pyrotechnics and one-upmanship have given people the impression that how a drink looks is more important than how it tastes. There’s always room for a little theatre, but taste should always come first. I like to make cocktails that are pretty unassuming on the eye, but pack a punch on the palate.
And who developed the menu?
Ivy Asia trusted my instincts on the menu development. I wanted to keep the selection pretty minimal and well-edited. We’re not looking to overwhelm guests with page on page of cocktails. We’d rather have a solid selection of firm, well-made, soon-to-be favorites.
Who makes your rather sleek glassware?
They’re made by a lovely company by the name of Nude. They’re big on the notions of simplicity, decluttering and a general distilling down of design elements. We like to think we can relate to that here at Ivy Asia.
And finally, what’s your house shot?
I’d have to say plum sake. It’s sweet, mild and goes down easy. Certainly a hit with guests and a pretty welcoming introduction to the world of sake.