In Manchester, there seems to be a new bar of some sort opening every week. I’m sure that if you were a professional “ligger”, you could remain in a permanent slightly sozzled haze going from opening event to opening event. None of it really grabs me.
Then once in a while, you hear a rumour that something just that bit… different might be opening. That rare thing. Something to actually get excited about. That happened earlier this year when “The Cocktail Twins” Elaine Yendall and Tara Mallinson let slip that they were looking to open a bar in Huddersfield. A tap house if you like.
Not at the Brewery, there simply isn’t the space for that. A proper standalone venue.
If memory serves, they had their eyes on a place which didn’t work out. Then they found a “little” spot just a short walk from the train station in the town centre. Somewhere accessible both for out of towners (like YT) and for locals. They’d found their Wappy Nick.
I think that they eventually got rather sick of people (including me) asking “When’s the bar opening…..?” and got to work.
Having a good friend as a partner who also happens to be a bloody good and respected landlady is a fair start. That lady is Sam Smith – somebody who manages the trick of being young, yet knowing the beer business inside and out. And someone totally committed to making sure this bar was done right. She knows her stuff.
So, the three of them – with a supporting cast of friends and family – set about the grueling task of getting a new bar into a town not unknown for great places to drink great beer. A real labour of love.
Now then. Brewers know the sheer graft that goes into making, selling and distributing good beer. Especially when you are a small firm. Then try adding building a new bar into that mix. I’ve hovered over social media, watching the progress. And noticing how little that Tara and Elaine have been in Manchester recently – and they love this place – had given me an indication of just how busy they’ve been.
I made a point of popping in when visiting Huddersfield for the brilliant Food and Drink Festival – before I’d even had a drink – just to have a peep. Avoiding the circular saw wielding Elaine, I was quite stunned. This wasn’t a small bar. Over two floors, there was an awful lot of space. But there was already a feel to the place. You could feel the heart and soul being poured into the build from family and friends. And – to me at least – a place needs that. A place needs a soul.
Fast forward to this Tuesday. There was still a lot of work to do, but mostly cosmetic. This had come together hugely since my last visit a mere 2 weeks previously. The Keg and Ale fonts were in place, the bar was built and looking lovely. The next few days would be about the fine details – testing, designing the food menu, a few little touches.
I was fortunate enough to find myself at the Brewery on an evening where they needed to do some systems testing. Beer was involved. I threw myself into the herculean task with gusto (as you might expect). The place looks fabulous. As will be the beer line up. The team have spent a lot of time thinking about what should go on that bar and in those fridges.
No Macro Brewery products will cross the threshold. That is a “red line”. The cask beer line up (7 pumps) will (of course) feature their own beers – 3 or 4 I think, but the guests will be the best available. The Keg line up looks mighty fine too (their own Citra damned me on Tuesday)
The night was a success with a few creases identified leaving plenty of time to iron them out. The beers were lovely (as you would expect) and the place felt right. And to think that upstairs will be open too tomorrow!
It’s no exaggeration to say that I haven’t looked forward so much to an opening for an awful long time. I think that the “Cocktail Twins” and Sam have got this just right. And I’m excited for them. If they have any nerves about this place, they shouldn’t. It’s a peach of a pub/bar and brings something a bit different to Huddersfield.
The Corner – 5, Market Walk, Huddersfield. It opens formally at 12pm tomorrow morning. To corrupt the line by Alan Hull of Lindisfarne, “Meet me at the Corner …..”
It’s more than worth the journey.