To be honest with you, I’ve never been a big believer in all of the faddy Christmas food and drink variations that tend to spring up suddenly and in abundance come November (and even October these days let’s face it.)
I’m all for a liqueur coffee or a splash of Baileys original in my hot choc, but so many places seem to take it that step too far so as to completely disfigure all the positives of the original.
Faced with the prospect of a hot chocolate wine then (welcome to 2018 folks) I was optimistic in loving both entities in and of themselves but deep down expecting something a little too sickly sweet to be enjoyable.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
First of all, our Northern Quarter PLY‘s new creation is served first and foremost as a hot chocolate and not a gimmicky chocolate-flavored wine.
It rocked up to the table piping hot just the way I like it and happily absent of all the mountains of whipped cream and singing candy cane-esque garnishes that tend to mask the underlying flavour, so that the exquisite, deep and tantalisingly complex notes were free to speak for themselves.
It was absolutely divine.
PLY’s version features port, brandy, cocoa and spices and unlike its competitors elsewhere lets the taste do the talking in terms of festive warmth.
I could have happily guzzled a barrell of the stuff and been a very happy (not to mention inebriated) gal.
Other winter specials currently on offer include the BlackBerry Messenger (one for the rum-lovers among you) featuring a blend of prosecco, rum, ginger and honey – and the Nutmeg-topped Dolce Vita – pleasurable and luxurious – this one’s laced with pannetone infused rum, spiced syrup, orange and egg – and an absolute bargain at £7 to boot.
There’s also the white choc snowball concoction featuring a flurry of vodka, white chocolate liqueur, prosecco and milk and for the brave among you, the Roast Peach Old Fashioned, marrying roasted peach infused bourbon, honey and sage into one delectable (and potent) mix.
The pizza at PLY is always top-notch and in my opinion this place doesn’t get the recognition it deserves with city favourites Rudy’s and Chorlton’s Double Zero usually pipping it in terms of hailings on social media.
But PLY is just as good if not better. There, I said it.
And testament to the fact is how packed out it is even on a weekday evening relatively early on.
The thing is people come here for the whole experience.
Great food, great drinks, a non-apologetic, down to earth vibe with none of the airs and graces of Spinningfields but so much more in terms of character.
Mine’s a truffle Portobello and hot chocolate wine every Friday from now until Christmas Day, please.
You can find PLY at 26 Lever St, Manchester M1 1DW.
Give it a go, you won’t regret it…