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Cloud 23 at the Hilton Deansgate Manchester has a delicious and evocative autumn cocktail treat with a Japanese theme running until 22 November.
Having visited Japan twice, I can attest to the stunning fire and gold of its autumns, so this fall pop-up seems particularly apt.
Featuring at the heart of the new cocktail menu is Roku Gin, paired with some delicious bonsai botanicals and gorgeous origami decor. It’s a great and unusual experience, which goes beyond toffee apples and bonfires for inspiration.
When you step out of the lift, you’ll notice the sparse but elegant flourishes: a cascading wall of leaves in every shade from yellow to red; stylish, crimson-crested trees on the tables; and flocks of paper birds hovering between them. Its these touches which always make Cloud 23 stand out above the rest – we’ve had some great cocktails across the city, but we always cherish returning to the Hilton.
In Japanese, Roku translates as the number six – a reference to the six botanicals that give the gin its unique flavour. This artisanal gin is crafted from uniquely Japanese ingredients harvested at the peak of their season, including sakura leaf and flower (picked in the spring), sencha and gyokuro tea (summer), sansho pepper (autumn) and citrussy yuzu peel (winter).
Japanese culture uses few spices, so Japanese spirits use botanicals sparingly. But this means they are doubly sure to use on the finest quality ingredients, so that each ingredient sings loud and clear for the tastebuds.
At the pop-up, you can enjoy flavoursome Japanese cocktails overlooking the turning autumn city. And it’s quite a view – allowing you to see nearby towns and hills on the distance, with a sea of trees rising above the rooftops in between.
The first cocktail we got to try was the silky, flowery Autumn Blossom. An intriguing concoction of Roku Gin, rose wine, jasmine and blueberry paint, it was somehow creamy and light at the same time. The sugar paper image on top is delightful and makes you almost regret drinking this – that is, until you taste it.
Next up we tried the understated Fidji Fizz, which combines Roku Gin with pink grapefruit and fidji tea soda. The result is a drink that’s crisp and zesty but with a hint of sweetness. It comes with a branded metal straw and loose tea nestled in orange peel for garnish.
For those who prefer something a bit more classic, there’s also the Roku Gin and tonic water – perfectly served in a balloon glass. This lets the flavours of the gin standalone, which is hardly a bad thing.
The adventurous, who want to try a little of everything, will definitely enjoy the Suntory Experience – a serving of three cocktails for only £20. You’ll get the Roko Gin & T, combining jasmine tea and tonic; the Haku Vodka & T, combining green tea and elderflower tonic; and Toki Whiskey and ginger.
We arrived on a particularly cold and windy day, but once we’d got into the heady heights of Manchester’s finest cocktail bar, the Japanese ambience completely swallowed us and we were able to have our heads in the clouds for some much needed respite. We highly recommend checking out the Roku Gin cocktails and the tasteful decor before it’s too late.
The pop-up is available until 22 November.
To find out more about the Cloud 23’s Roku Gin pop-up, head to cloud23bar.com