IT has been living in the shadow of its glitzy, ritzy big brother for some time, but now the original Muse is back in the spotlight.
Former Hollyoaks soap star Rob Norbury opened his original Uppermill bar and eatery to popular acclaim in 2014.
But business really boomed with an expansive and expensive refurbishment of the neighbouring, one-time Mitali Indian restaurant.
Muse’s reputation has since spread way beyond its Saddleworth footprint, attracting many visitors.
Now Rob, who also has The Farrars Arms pub at Grasscroft in his business portfolio, is going back to his roots with a transformation of the original Muse.
Always with one eye on the latest trends, Rob has launched the building as the Gin Annex, a laid-back, chill out zone with the added attractions of mouth-watering pizzas and deli boards.
Open from 12 noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Annex has already undergone a successful soft launch ahead of its introduction to customers this month.
“We have 45 gins at the moment but the idea is to organically add to the total,” explained Rob.
“We won’t be getting them in just for the sake of it. But if there is something we like we will buy it in.
“I remember people used to ask for Gordons and top it up with Schweppes tonic.
“Then, if you drank Bombay Sapphire, you were seen as posh.
“Now it is the spirit that has taken over everything.
“But we are not here to baffle people. If you want to come in a and try something, we can guide you.
“We’ll have a Gin of the Week where you can get two higher end gins for a tenner.
“It can set you back £40, £50 or £60 a bottle for some so we want to make them more accessible.”
Rob, excited by the experience offered by the Annex, added: “This is where I started off so it’s great tocome back and give it some love and TLC.
“The other side is more structured where people come and book. With the Annex, you can pop in, catch up with friends, or have something to eat as a couple.
“We want to make it something a little different: a dining and drinking experience that is more chilled out than other places.
“You can sit in the back and relax. And we will be serving pizzas until 10.30pm.”
But the Annex isn’t just a gin ‘joint’ though as it is supplemented by beers from around the world, including a craft beer from Italy to complement the Mediterranean food theme.
With the expansion of Java – now known as Caffe Grande Abaco – as well as the refurbishment of Dinnerstone and the proposed opening of a restaurant in the old Spar supermarket, Uppermill looks set to boom for some considerable time.
“There are enough people to go around and as long as people believe in what they are doing, it is all good for the area,” said Rob.
“Saddleworth is the kind of place you can spend a weekend because it’s such a lovely destination with so many activities.
“I sometimes think we underappreciate what there is around Saddleworth. It is a gem.
“If there were more hotels around here the area would boom even more.”