Trafford & Hulme Branch’s Pub Of The Season for Autumn is Electrik Bar on Wilbraham Road, Chorlton. The bar was presented with the award on 15 October, just three days after narrowly missing out on the Best Bar award in the Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards. A healthy contingent of regulars and CAMRA members attended the presentation night with the unexpected bonuses of CAMRA Regional Director Ralph Warrington, local MP John Leech and councillors Norman Lewis (Chorlton Park) & Paul Ankers (Chorlton).
Presenting the award, Paul King, Deputy Chairman of the branch said that it was unprecedented for a bar which had been open for such a short amount of time to win the award, with pubs usually taking years to build up the necessary reputation. Local competition is strong also, with former winners of the award including three more Chorlton pubs - The Bar, the Marble Beer House & The Famous Trevor Arms. However, Electrik had impressed the local drinkers with it's commitment to serving a varied range of top quality real ale from it's opening night in February. Along the way, they have shown an admirable commitment to local breweries. John Leech MP added that it was heartening to see a new bar thriving at a time when so many pubs & bars are closing.
From it’s opening night Electrik has had three hand pumps in near constant use, with real cider introduced in September. Thwaites Wainright is usually present and joined by two ever changing guests, usually from micro breweries. A direct relationship with the Lake District’s excellent Hawkshead Brewery sees a regular guest from their range but many other breweries have featured. On the night of the presentation beers from Dunham Massey brewery, Bolton's Bank Top brewery & Newton Heaths Bogart Hole were on sale along with two varieties of real cider.
Electrik is the brainchild of Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey, better known as the "Unabombers" duo that were behind Manchester's massively successful Electric Chair club night, but day to day running falls to manager Matt Robinson. In accepting the award, Matt paid tribute to both the owners and to his staff who have made Electrik such a hit in a short amount of time. He said that despite the recognition the bar had received in it's short life, they still consider it a work in progress and are constantly striving to improve the experience for their customers. The latest addition to their service is a new text and e-mail service where real ale & cider drinkers can sign up to get advance warning of what is coming on next.
Hot food is offered all day every day in the form of Sausage & Mash. Five types of sausage are offered with four flavours of mash, a selection of gravies, plus a choice of peas, beans or cabbage on the side. An interesting twist on the theme saw the hot buffet at the presentation night consisting of lovingly assembled sausage & mash canapés. The hot food offering has recently expanded to include sharing platters for those weekend lunches and is likely to expand further. A range of cakes is also always available. All ingredients are sourced locally.
Of a Friday or Saturday evening, the bar attracts the younger crowd that you would expect from its position on the Wilbraham Road strip, but outside of these times, it offers a warm welcome to all ages. Although by no means a Wacky Warehouse, Electrik is possibly the most family friendly pub in Chorlton without restrictions such as “out by 4.30pm” or “only if eating”. A small stack of toys and colouring books sit at the end of the bar for entertainment of the youngest of their customers (and to stop them running around disturbing other customers!).
Electrik combines the best of the modern bar and the traditional pub to give a venue that sits well in it’s surroundings without excluding those who are more at home in the boozer. The bar’s strap line of ‘publicsocialhousecafebar’ that appears below it’s logo on the sign outside looked pretentious when it first appeared. However, it is lack of pretension that means Electrik succeeds in being all of those things at the same time and this is the secret of it’s success.