WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

01 December 2002

More HOT... or hotter still?

A couple of bar reviews first published in 'Harpers On-trade' (November and December 2002 issues): The Player, Ashton-Under-Lyne & Cosmopolitan Spirit, Manchester. More articles published in HOT and Harpers Wine & Spirit here (on 'French Med Wine'). And another couple of short posts: More HOT here (sushi & licensing).

Cosmopolitan Spirit, 19 Brown Street, Manchester M2 (0161 834 7690).

Bar Manager: Nicola Copeland.
Opening hours: bar 11-23.00, restaurant 12-15.00 & 18-22.00, takeaway 8-15.00.
Capacity: bar 100+, restaurant 50 covers.

Despite being a stone’s throw from Market Street and the lovely Arndale, this site has potential given the surrounding offices and proximity to hip King Street. This is no ordinary establishment: brandishing the Cosmo trademark, here you can drink, eat and visit their beauty spa downstairs. How glamorous, just like the two chicly dressed women who also frequented the place on a wet Sunday afternoon.

Funky music and the sensuous smell of new leather proved welcoming: a row of comfortable beige leather benches occupies the centre, parallel to the light wood bar. The raised section stands out in sunset orange dotted with wilder orange, cute pouffes. The bar was well-stocked to service the very good cocktail list: this features 5 ‘Signature’ drinks including Sunshine Cosmopolitan (lime, mango purée, Pölstar Sitróna) and 30 ‘Martinis’, ‘Classics’ and ‘Contemporary’ (all £5.90) plus 5 ‘Champagne’ (£6.90). A decent wine list offers reds priced from £11.50 to Amarone at £45 and whites from £10.25 to £55 for Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru. The choice of bottled beers is also fair including Freedom Organic (£3).


The Player, 21-25 Old Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, tel/fax 0161 339 0929.

Bar manager: Nina Wood.
Opening hours: 12pm – 11pm, applied for 1am extension Thurs-Sat and 12.30 Sunday.
Capacity: 300.

The Player is located just off Ashton’s old market square cum 70s-style hideous shopping centre. The bar was formerly Revolution and Chester’s now knocked into one and is owned by the former group. It looks meticulously new with highly polished, dark-stained wooden flooring and elongated bar counters. Add to this brown leather-look settees, stylish Japanese wall lights and pretty déco window above the pool table, which create a comfortable roomy atmosphere. The multiple TV screens rather jar with this and inevitably will offer live football.
Few surprises behind the bar: an uninspiring workmanlike selection of beers fills the fridges alongside the usual colours of mixers. However they do propose six cocktail pitchers to share such as ‘Chambulls’ (£12) – vodka, sparkling wine and Red Bull – and a full cocktail list is coming. Wine is limited to two whites and two reds (good value at least at under £10 a bottle) plus two Champagnes. Overall the Player has a whiff of chain marketing about it but feels smarter and cosier than many despite its size.

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