What is the first thing you do when you land in a new city? Have a drink, grab something to eat, and settle in your accommodation? Doing one’s laundry doesn’t come to mind. Does it? It wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the list for most people. So let me tell you why you should consider doing some laundry at The Washhouse if you visit Manchester.
The Washhouse, located in Manchester, England, isn’t just any laundromat. But, not all is as it seems. It has a secret that is waiting to be discovered by you.
I know you are thinking, “Do you want me to go to a laundry mat?” Wait, though, hear me out.
Take a Good Look Around
It is a quirky throwback to the time of the prohibition. Looking at the front window for The Washhouse, everything seems innocuous. You see a checkered black and white floor, stainless steel washing machines, and a giant dryer. As you would expect, you can see a laundry basket and some powdered detergent on top of the washer. A rotary phone is on a shelf near the wall, and a tv camera is watching you up in the right-hand corner.
Everything screams to you that there is nothing to see here. I am sure that many have continued and passed this place without much thought. It’s a shame, though, because they are the ones missing out.
After a 34-hour flight delay, my airplane finally made its way to Manchester, England. We landed before 7 pm local time. Passport control took about an hour to clear for the non-EU line. I had a reservation for the Washhouse at 9 pm. For me, this was the only time that I would be able to come. The next day had no openings, and I was flying out that next night.
From the airport, I requested an Uber and was on my way. Remember that to visit; you have to book a wash or spin to gain access. Don’t come to the Washhouse or sometimes typed in as the Wash House Manchester without a booking. You will not be allowed to enter without a reservation. You can reserve your time slot and the number of covers (people) online here.
Entry to The Washhouse in Manchester
On their social media pages, you can also see updates on slots that have become available. Once inside, I picked up the phone and was connected to a person who verified my appointment. After a moment, the large dryer, without warning, opened up into a darkened passageway. I was greeted and led inside the dark interior toward a seat at a corner table.
Low-hanging lamps over the tables and candles provide ample lighting. I found this to be a cozy atmosphere. The exposed brick and dark leather seats mix well with the ambiance of this speakeasy. Music is playing, but it is soft and not overpowering. You’ll see a cocktail menu and a small bowl of crisps (snacks) on the table. My server guided me through the list and the different variations and origins of the drinks. I could see the bartender crafting these detailed concoctions for other guests at the bar.
Enjoy Some Innovative Drinks
My first drink order was for a “This Mary Ain’t Going No-where.” A take on a Bloody Mary with a welcomed spiciness and a terrific blend of chorizo and chipotle flavors. I enjoy a well-made Bloody Mary, and this one is among the best I have had. This cocktail was one of my favorites on the Washhouse Manchester menu.
Next, I followed it up with a proper British drink. How can one not have a Gin & Tonic when visiting the UK? The cocktail was a basil-infused sorbet mixture to which you add tonic water. Later on, I realized that I had forgotten to take a picture of the menu description :/
To close out my time on this “Brexit Vacation,” I chose to end the night with a fun drink called Soft Brex-fast. It looks like cereal — so much fun when you get to play with your food and beverages. (Its picture is at the top of the post)
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
They kindly gave me a sample of the drink named “Up Stream,” as it intrigued me from the description. You can see this in the last menu card below. Who would order a salmon-flavored cocktail? I was curious about how the preparation and the taste it would impart. It indeed came through as promised. Not my thing, but I did finish it and chalked one up to the unique and quirky experience board.
A younger couple seated next to me was enjoying their drink choices. One of the cocktails they ordered came with a combination lock. You had to solve the riddle before drinking. Another came with a marshmallow and a blowtorch. I know, it’s exciting getting to play with food or drink! But, these are not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, boring drinks. The Washhouse is doing things right. Its inventive and quirky drink combinations and no shortage of creativity are what await you.
The couple ended their night by ordering a drink called Cigarettes and Alcohol (seen on the 1st menu card below). This one gave them great pleasure and many photo opportunities. Our server had described it as one of his favorites on the menu. A drink that once again delivers on the description. The kicker was that it comes with a vape pen. So you are vaping alcohol (in small amounts, mind you). This cocktail was very different and provided countless laughs. I did decline a chance to try the pen when offered.
The Washhouse Manchester Drink & Cocktail Menu
The Washhouse menu features and highlights many exciting cocktails to try. Here are some samples from a menu during my visit.
Speakeasies are Back in Fashion
Hidden bars or speakeasies are becoming trendy and gaining traction again, originating from a history of popularity during the prohibition. Alcohol was illegal, and unlicensed secret bars and drinking spaces appeared.
This speakeasy is one that you should consider for a fun night out. It would be hard not to have a good time with their elevated, unique drinks and a swanky unpretentious vibe. After all, it is a great feeling to get caught up on all that wash. Who knew that a night out at The Washhouse in Manchester could be so much fun? The washhouse photos I took can attest to that!
I am not much of a cocktail drinker, but I enjoyed this experience. I was happy to have heard about the Washhouse before I left and incorporated it into my plans. After that long agonizing delay, it was just what I needed to kickstart my vacation. Do you enjoy cocktails or speakeasies?
I’d highly recommend checking out the vibrant Manchester street art scene during the day. It is a great way to wander about and see the city.
Some fun Manchester activities to consider
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Tours, Activities, and Things to Do
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