Manchester's Hidden Cocktail Haven - 19 Cafe Bar 

I've recently discovered my ultimate gin cocktail at 19 Cafe Bar.

A hidden gem of brunch and bar spot sitting just back from Lever Street. I've been a number of times for their incredible smashed avocado but since going back to work wide eyed and bushy tailed on cocktails is never a good idea, I'd yet to of tasted their liquid lunch.

Brunch is served to around 3pm most days before they pack away the menus and pull out the cocktail shakers in their New York themed cafe bar.

Usually when you come across a hybrid coffee shop/ bar their alcohol selection is minimal so when I saw their poison packed shelves of gins, whisky, vodka, liqueurs and more I was impressed!

Their cocktail menu is pretty extensive, ranging from your classic mojitos and brambles to their signature cocktails with an interesting twist on your favourites like 'Lady Island Ice Tea' and an 'Expresso Martini' with an orange twist. But it doesn't stop there. To my joy they had a 'Make Your Own Gin Cocktail' section and boy oh boy their range of gins are pretty spot on!

To create your own gin cocktail you can choose from 6 types of gin (Manchester Gin, Three Rivers, Bathtub, Hendricks, Tanqueray and Daffy's, 8 garnishes and a handful or original and flavoured tonics!

The cocktails we went for were:

Amaretto Sour - which was probably one of the best amaretto sours we've ever had as the egg white added a smooth meringue topping which complimented the sour tipple.
Bramble - A summery fresh and fruity gin cocktail using Tanqueray.
Rum Runner - Which basically made me want to go sit on a beach and drink it straight from a pineapple. Although this fruity mix looks sweet, it packs an alcoholic punch!
Mojito - A classic so how could we not? Havana rum and fresh mint, a perfectly refreshing cocktail.
Aviation - This cocktail was like nothing I'd tasted before and was incredible. It was probably my ultimate drink made of Tanqueray gin (yes it seems Tanqueray swayed me on most of the cocktails) lemon, maraschino cherry liqueur and creme de violet. Basically if you're like me and love a perfumed, floral and sweet cocktail then this is right up your street. 

Orange Expresso Martini - Practically a dessert that's packed a punch. Expresso martini is one of my favourite cocktails and the orange twist in the Cafe Bar 19 signature cocktail just added that extra zing! 
Build Your Own Gin Cocktail - Which i had Daffy's Gin, Double Dutch Watermelon & Cucumber tonic (which is amazing!) and juniper berries.
Statten Island - A fruity cocktail made from Three Rivers gin, pineapple, lemon and apple juice but smoothed out with creme de casis and local honey. 

As well as the incredible more-ish cocktails we also happened to visit 19 Cafe Bar on a Thursday which meant it was acoustic sessions night which starts at 6pm! With great live music, amazing cocktails and a relaxed atmostphere, 19 Cafe Bar is the perfect little hideaway from the usual packed out NQ bars.

Beki Xo 

(As part of this post i was given complimentary cocktails in exchange for a review. However all opinions are my own)

The Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Fizz ft Slingsby Gin 

 your regular reading time to alert you that it's rhubarb season and what better way to celebrate entering into Spring than with a new fresh and fruity seasonal gin?

Slingsby have gone and done it again by creating a stunning ruby-red bottle of rich and botanically sweet rhubarb gin. But unlike some fruit infused gins that become overpowered by the candied stuff, the herbal qualities of their flagship gin pull through with just enough notes of fresh rhubarb.

The rhubarb itself is grown in Wakefield and once ready to pick, immediately transported to be instantly blended with water before being mixed with the spirit to preserve that freshness. In the distillation process the natural coloring from the rhubarb is removed so Slingsby have added a touch of natural food colouring to set it apart from their flagship gin.

To taste? The sweet perfume of the Slingsby Rhubarb Gin is smoothed out with caramelized notes but still carries a kick. So when creating a cocktail I wanted to keep it simple and pair the gin with it's opponent... spice.

The Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Fizz

50ml Slingsby Rhubarb Gin
Crushed Ice
Rosemary for garnish

Top with Fever-Tree Ginger Ale

To make the cocktail simple add the crushed ice to a tumbler and pour over 50ml of Slingsby rhubarb gin.

Top with ginger ale (Fever-Tree is the best!) and mix/ garnish with a sprig of rosemary. 

Easy peasy! This gin also worked incredibly well with a Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic and garnished with grapefruit peel. But there's just something about the sweetness of the rhubarb and spice of the ginger ale that make this pair a match made in gin heaven.

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this blog post I was gifted the Slingsby gin to review however all opinions are my own

I love living in the city, everything is so close by, there are so many options when it comes to coffee shops, restaurants and bars and you never run out of things to do… unless you’re broke (LOL). However there just aren’t enough green spaces in Manchester so we decided to take a break away from city life and head off on a road trip to the Lakes ‘n’ Dales to explore the countryside and get some much needed fresh air. 

Our plan? To stay 2 nights in an incredibly cosy and homely cottage in Low Bentham, pull on our walking boots, clip in the dogs lead and discover some stunning walks.

On the way from Manchester to Low Betham we stopped off at Williamson Park, Lancaster. It’s known for the iconic Ashton Memorial based in the middle of 54 acres of park land. The weather may have helped but the park was beautiful with huge open spaces, a butterfly house (which we couldn’t go in with the dog), Meerkats (which we spotted In an enclosure whilst walking through the woods), a café and shop. So it pretty much has everything you would need to spend a day there along with a couple of kids play parks… and a few elderly ladies with dogs on their electric scooters. We must have walked for just under 2 hours, exploring the memorial, trekking through the woods and strolling through the open park land with the frozen over lake.

From there we made our way to the cottage in Low Bentham, just at the Edge of the Yorkshire Dales. We wanted somewhere to stay that was in-keeping with our rural weekend. So the box was ticked when we came across ‘Sunnybrook cottage’, a renovated 2 bed stone cottage with a wood burning fire, incredibly beautiful open stone feature wall and private garden and parking/garage.  
The photos on the Airbnb don’t do the cottage justice but what I also didn’t expect was a surprise planned 3 course dinner made up of my favourite meals which my boyfriend had planned for our anniversary and the host, Rebecca had kindly made from scratch ready for us to prepare. Along with this was a bottle of prosecco, fresh bread from the local bakery and home-made plum jam which was delicious! The thoughtful touches from the host definitely made our stay that extra bit special! 

Our plan for our first day was a trip to Windermere to meet up with a friend for a pup-date. We took a mini hike up to Orrest Head Hill with the dogs which has incredible views of Windermere on a clear day. We then went to visit the Laura Ashley Hotel which is stunning, dog friendly outside and has the most incredible view across the lake however, as it’s winter there was unfortunately no seating outside for us to get afternoon tea! Luckily the great thing about Windermere is that as it’s such a dog walking tourist town, a lot of pubs and cafes are dog friendly so we stopped off at The Angel Inn just at the top of a hill. Dog friendly both inside and outside and serves a mean ass sandwich

After a mini hike and lunch in Windermere we then took a 25 minute car ride out to Sizergh Castle Estate, a National Trust stately home and gardens at Helsington, Cumbria. Rather than exploring the gardens (dogs aren’t allowed in the house) we took the nature trail which led us over incredible wide open fields, across a farm, through a quiet woodland, across a sheep path and up into the hills with incredible views. The estate also has a café and shop so again is another great place to spend the day. There are multiple walks which you can pretty much get lost and still end up on another trail. 

After exploring the quaint town of Low Bentham we wanted to find somewhere on the way back to Manchester where we could finish our long weekend away with our last ‘big’ walk. We found Towneley Hall on the map which is about 45 minutes from Manchester and has stunning historic house and 400 acres of beautiful parkland. There’s also a dog friendly café and shop which made it a great pit stop on the way home!

Beki Xo
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My Top 6 Vegan Pinterest Recipes 

One of the best things about being plant based is experimenting with new recipes, trying new foods and discovering some mouth watering alternatives. 

Before switching to a plant based diet my lunches largely consisted of a meat based sandwich or wrap and my evening meals where pretty much chicken and vegetables in some form. I think it's fair to say that I stuck to the same old british meals.

But now I'm finding that I'm more inspired in the kitchen. Creating my previous home comforts with plant based alternatives and discovering new vegan recipes that have become a staple to my weekly breakfasts, lunches and dinners. 

Now, aside from the small pile of vegan cook books I have on my kitchen island. Pinterest is doubtlessly my go to place for new vegan recipes. Whether I fancy something in particular or want to discover something new, everyone knows it's the best collaborative place for recipes but vegan recipes in particular. 

So I thought I'd share My Top 8 Vegan Pinterest Recipes that have become weekly staples in my household! 

The Veggie Sausage & Sun Dried Tomatoe One-Pot Pasta

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Cosy Butternut, Sweet Potatoe & Red Lentil Stew

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Vegan Red Pepper Pasta

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Sweet Potato and Kale Chilli

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Beki Xo
The Sparkling Spiced Apple Gin Cocktail

Nothing tastes more like Christmas than cinnamon, am I right?

This sparkling, fruity apple and cinnamon cocktail is filled to the brim with downright delicious flavours. The perfect cocktail to freshen your palette before Christmas dinner or give you that little pick me up nudge after you've indulged on your festive feast. It's the quickest and easiest cocktail to make that you can throw together without any shakers, makers and stirrers. 

The Sparkling Spiced Apple Gin Cocktail

50ml Gin
1 handful of fresh cranberries
Top with sparkling apple juice
1 Granny Smith apple
1 cinnamon stick

To make the cocktail look as great as it tastes I added a few cranberries into ice cube trays and froze them for a few hours to create festive cranberry ice cubes. If you haven't got time you could pop a few into the top of your drink just to add a little extra something.

Pour 50ml of your chosen gin over the rocks (Tanqueray No10, Caorunn, Blackwoods Vintage, Death's Door, Elephant, Greenall's and Tesco's finest aromatic gin are well paired with apple)

Add 1 cinnamon stick and a slice of apple

Pour the sparkling apple juice (Appletiser was my choice) over the cinnamon stick and top up the glass.

Stir the cocktail using the cinnamon stick and serve.

Beki Xo
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