Inside Manchester’s sleek new cocktail bar by the man behind some of the world’s best bars

A new cocktail bar from a former Gordon Ramsay bar manager opens today and aims to bring “in season” cocktails to the city. Dan Berger grew up in Heaton Mersey but has spent most of his career working in some of Melbourne’s and London’s finest cocktail bars.

He is now back in his hometown and hopes to replicate the success of bars like The Ned, the elegant five-star hotel in the City of London, housed in the former headquarters of the Midland Bank, where he worked as director of bars.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own venue since I started in the industry, but when I came back to Manchester in 2018, I couldn’t find the right venue, and got bothered on a few projects” he told the Manchester Evening News.

His new project, Blinker, now opens in Spring Gardens, with responsibility for seasonal ingredients and a menu that will be constantly evolving – while still offering the classics. Mai, for example, will feature cocktails with elements like mint, nectarine, pomegranate and rhubarb, all of which are about to come into season.

Interior flashing on Spring Gardens

“I would describe Blinker as an upscale yet approachable beverage destination focused on well-crafted beverages with a fresh seasonal influence. For the first menu, we will favor British mint, stone fruits and nectarines. We are also looking at rhubarb which is grown in Cheshire, as well as pomegranate as a backup fruit while we wait for more strawberries to come in season,” he said.

“There have been so many great bars in Manchester lately, but for me I wanted to be in a part of town where we wouldn’t get overwhelmed with late night drinks. I don’t want it to be known as a sort of super night destination. It’s more about quality.”

Entrance to Spring Gardens

He added: “We’re just very careful about how we make our drinks, because if we have the sweetness and tartness of the fruit element in the drinks, we don’t need to use citrus as much. .

“I work with a lot of brands who believe in me and in the project, so the support has been incredible and it’s the start of some great relationships. It will be fun to work with local fruit whenever possible and my suppliers are ready to go to let me know when things come into season.”

Shepherd behind the bar

This month’s drinks 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 formidable 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 leaders and how the big picture means teamwork.

“The selection of beverage menus to complement a first class food offering is crucial to the overall success of a catering business, food and beverage must work in harmony.” Berger plans to introduce the food menu by July.

He continued: “The lockdown gave me a lot of time to think about what I was doing and where I wanted to go. And, it was kind of a now or never moment. I thought I could never forgive myself if I got older and didn’t try to do my own thing.

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Joshua B. Speller