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Best of Manchester Bars

City centre and university bars compiled by Holly Townsend, Alex Horne and David Bond

Published on February 15th 2013.

Best of Manchester Bars

THIS is a list of bars that are proper bars, not mostly restaurants with a bar, not hotel bars and not pop-up bars. Nor is it a list of pubs that are bar-like, such as the Castle on Oldham Street. 

Hotel bars and those that make up part of a restaurant will be covered in other 'best of' lists.

Thus in our pursuit of the best bars pure and simple we've struck on a curious thing. Destination bars tend to be independent, tend to cater for a younger crowd, tend to be very music driven. Perhaps it's less curious than merely logical. 

Bars also tend to be extremely hard to get in touch with. 

No matter, here's our list of the finest in the city centre and university areas. It's in alphabetical order not rank order.

If we've missed one of your favourites let us know in the comments below.

3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, City, 0161 817 2950, M3 3HF. Web
Sun-Tue 10am-12am; Wed-Thu 10am-1am; open late Bank Holidays.
This bar’s interior is as sharp and slick as people who use it, but with a traditional element given vent through a spectacular back bar and clock. Tarnished wooden cabinets filled with test-tubes and skulls give a quirky edge and feed the theme of the Alchemist, the scientist cum philosopher of yore who attempted to turn base metals into gold – here they turn money into alcohol. Cocktails are brewed like potions using apparatus such as bunsen burners, decanted from conical flasks and finished with a syringe full of exotica. The place is a popular eating spot as well with snacky world cuisine. Heated outdoor seating area, good place for warm-up drinks and cocktails, but also open late for those in for the long-run.
Crowd: Suited professionals out for after-work drinks, age range 22-40, smarter, glamorous and vibrant crowds on Thursday-Saturday evenings
Entertainment:  DJ Sets on Fri-Sat, 10pm – 2am
Best Cocktail or House Special: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with cointreau, elderflower liqueur, passion-fruit, strawberries, orange, lemon grapefruit rind and mint
Signature dish (if applicable): Chicken in a Basket – Cajun spiced chicken in batter, chips, slaw and homemade BBQ sauce
Children allowed: Until 7pm
Disabled access: Full


17 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, City, 0161 834 9411, M4 1FS. Web
Sun-Wed 12pm –12:30am; Thu-Sat, 12pm – 1am
A Grade II listed building, with its name derived from its past life as a pharmacy. Its low level lighting, dark leather interior and heavy velvet curtains give a Gothic feel. Interlinked through a door to Dough restaurant next door, Apotheca is a great place to move onto afterwards. 53 cocktails on offer. Cabinets of glass bottled liquids and drawers of medicine carry the Apotheca theme. There’s a cinema screen downstairs which in summer 2012 was showing Wimbledon and Olympics all summer.
Crowd: Post-work professionals, eclectic and indie crowds who enjoy the Manchester local bar scene and livelier groups on a weekend. Age range 25–40+
Entertainment: DJs Fri-Sat, ‘Pick your Poison’ Quiz night, Sun and Happy Mondays
Best Cocktail: Enter the Dragon – Sipsmith gin, martini, lychee liqueur, wasabi, lime, chilli, jasmine syrup, green tea and pressed apple juice.
Offers: 2 for £9 cocktails everyday (Sat–Sun until 7pm)
Signature dish: Pizzas from next door at Dough 
Children allowed: Until 7pm, but Dough is family friendly
Disabled access: Yes, to ground floor


Big Hands
296A Oxford Road, 0161 272 7309, M13 9NS. Web
Mon-Thur 10am-2am; Fri 10am-3am; Sat 11am-3am; Sun 6pm-1am
Big Hands is an integral thread in the fabric of Manchester’s drinking scene to the extent that it appears here despite being located next to Manchester Academy, a few miles out of the city centre. The dingy lo fi aura of the place accentuates the sense of history and personality which is distinctly lacking in any other bars within the vicinity; consequently, Big Hands is the universally acknowledged spot for a post-gig drink and the ideal place for a swift pint on Oxford Road. Newcomers may be unhappy, even appalled (I haven’t seen the ladies), by the state of the toilets but this is all par for the course in a bar that revels in its indie appeal and its rough around the edges aesthetic. Keep your eyes peeled for band members if that’s how you get your rocks off.
Crowd: Mixed age group of mellow pre and post gig-goers mingling with musicians they’ve just watched.   
Entertainment: DJs and live music
Best Cocktail or House Special: Beers and whiskies
Children allowed: Until 7pm
Disabled access: No

Big HandsBig Hands

Black Dog NQ
Corner Tib Street/ Church Street, Northern Quarter, City. 0161 839 0664, M4 1PW. Web
Noon– 4am every day.
New York style speakeasy diner; a perfect location for city slickers to kick back and relax. It has a laid back feel with booths and leather couches for schmoozing, with a pool table lounge and dance floor, for when the night comes to life. Last year it was Confidential’s Bar of the Year given because this is a lively, drinking den, where decent food, cocktails and spirits and beers meet up with a good-looking trendsetting crowd. A door policy of not attracting the idiots in helps immensely. There's no emphasis on a 2-4-1 desperation drinks game either and the music makes sense, helping along the jolly and hectic mood.
Crowd: A mixed bag, age range 20–50, professionals, Northern Quarter trendies, locals, those wanting a late night out without the rowdy atmosphere and 2am brawls.
Entertainment: Resident DJs Thurs – Sat, Special DJ clash nights, Cocktail Master Classes,
Best Cocktail: Weekend Rockstar – Jack Daniels, Jagermeister, Caramel and Cherry Bitters
Signature dish: Brucie Bonus Pizza – all the meat you can think of swimming in cheese. Northern Quarter Pounder 
Children allowed: Until 8pm. 
Disabled access: No

Black Dog BallroomBlack Dog Ballroom

Cloud 23
Deansgate Hilton Manchester, Deansgate, City, M3 4LQ. Web
Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri 5pm-2am; Sat 4.30pm-2am; Sun 5pm-midnight
Manchester’s tallest drinkerie, halfway to heaven in the Hilton and included here because it might be in a hotel but it’s so far from reception it almost counts as being a separate entity. There is a special express lift on the ground floor of the hotel taking you directly to the 23rd floor of the 47 storey building. Upon entering the bar itself, the first and most striking thing you notice is the view across Manchester and beyond – which itself is a good enough reason to drink there. Furthermore, Cloud 23 oozes taste, from an impressive selection of cocktails and champagnes on offer to Dean Martin on the sound system. Worth a visit for the views alone, beware though it is expensive and the service can be snail slow.
Crowd: Tourists, conference delegates, people with a view on life and a bit of dosh
Entertainment: Private hire lounges, cocktail making classes, and rooms can be hired for weddings and civil ceremonies
Best Cocktail or House Special: Number of signature cocktails, champagnes and long drinks. Alexandra Park, an interesting mix including vodka and balsamic vinegar, is recommended.
Signature dish: David Gale's lovely take on dim sum
Children allowed: Until 5pm
Disabled access: Yes

Cloud 23Cloud 23

Edge Street, City, 0161 832 9243. M4 1HW. Web
Mon-Wed 5pm-midnight; Thu-Sat 5pm-2am
Nestled in the heart of The Northern Quarter, stomping ground for Manchester’s bohos Common is a glowing gem of a bar that eschews the air of exclusivity and pretension which characterises others – indeed the manager seemed dazed about what were his best drinks and food, laid-back in the extreme. The walls display a constantly mutating mix of street art and cartoonish doodles which are lovingly stripped and redrawn by local artists with a regularity that could keep the most ADD alcoholics returning week after week. The back room of the bar, ‘The Kestrel Suite’, is a more toned down affair with a working men’s club style in contrast to the hyperactive murals next door. It’s canny, funny, and an unintimidating part of the Northern Quarter with a crowd to match.
Crowd: Very Northern Quarter people with their offbeat, off the wall, vintage eclecticism.
Entertainment: Sat,‘Friends in Common’, DJs and eclectic range of club nights, Wed, twice monthly quiz
Best Cocktail or House Special: Maple Syrup Manhattan  
Signature dish if applicable: Lamb Kofta Kebab - Homemade spiced lamb skewers grilled to order on a warmed flatbread with houmous, mixed salad, tzatziki, mayonnaise and whole jalapenos.
Children allowed: Until 7pm
Disabled access: Yes


Deaf Institute 
135 Grosvenor Street, City, 0161 276 9350, M1 7HE. Web
Mon-Thu 10am-1am; Fri 10am-3am; Sat 10am-4am; Sun 10am-1am
A staple of any self respecting student’s drinking schedule and part of the Trof empire, The Deaf Institute boasts a calendar bursting at the seams with regular nights catering for the full spectrum of musical tastes from soul and swing to rap and reggae. If blindly groping strangers and trying to remember where you live on a weeknight isn’t your style, however, Deaf Institute still has plenty to offer across the three floors. The bar has a refreshingly open minded approach to hiring live acts and their list of upcoming shows are always worth a perusal. If the recent Trof outlet Gorilla keeps up the good work that will make this list soon - click here.
Crowd:Studenty but frequented by locals all wanting a mix of music and easy style.
Entertainment: Big sporting events are screened consistently, open mic nights are held on Sunday and the quiz on Wednesday is the liveliest quiz night south of Mancunian Way. But mainly music all the way with gigs galore.
Best Cocktail or House Special: The Zombie cocktail
Signature dish: The Trof burger
Children allowed: Until 7pm
Disabled access: Main  room only 

Deaf InstituteDeaf Institute

Unit 1a, Great Northern Tower, Watson Street, City. 0161 834 8802, M3 4EE. Web 
Mon-Wed 2pm–12am; Thurs 2pm–1am; Fri-Sat 2pm–2am; Sun 12pm-12am.
Epernay Champagne and Cocktail Bar wants to gush romance with its twinkling fairy lights, candle wax caked Moet bottles housing single red roses, rustic brick walls and stylish offerings of antipasti and cheeses.  Perhaps the perfect place for a date or for after work drinks with friends, though later on it transforms into a buzzing venue attracting a professional and tasteful crowd with its impressive range of champagnes and cocktails on offer. 
Crowd: Aspirational, early after-work and weekend office types. Much more town than gown, with a sprinkling of high heels glamour.
Entertainment: DJs, live music pop up events and cocktail/champagne master classes. 
Best Cocktail: The Pornstar – Passion fruit, Vanilla, Butterscotch Martini and a shot of Champagne. 
House Special:  House Ayala Champagne  
Signature dish: Antipasti and cheese boards.
Children allowed: No 
Disabled access: Full 



Gas Lamp
50 Bridge Street, City, 0161 478 1224, M3 3BW. Web
Mon-Fri 4pm-midnight; Sat noon-2am; Sun noon-midnight
An eccentric basement bar located in the former kitchens of a street children's mission. It's tiles throughout in a clinical yellow washdown shade that should make the bar the most alarming to be inside in central Manchester. Yet strangely it all works out well especially the backroom with daylight coming down a fire-escape stairwell with an upside bike ascending - you have to see it to understand. With good spirits, good ales and wines Gaslamp somehow elevates itself above all those tiles.
Crowd: Those in Spinningfields and west of Deansgate who want a Northern Quarter vibe
Entertainment: DJs including Abbatoir Blues
Best Cocktail or House Special: Real ales, cider and spirits 
Signature dish (if applicable): Homemade pork scratchings 
Children allowed: No
Disabled access: No

Gas LampGas Lamp

11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, City. 0161 228 7421, M1 1DB. Web
Sun-Thu 5pm–2am; Fri–Sat 5pm–3am
In this underground lair, wild spirited staff serve up one of the best catalogues of cocktails in the city. With over 100 imported rums there’s plenty of palate-teasing concoctions to be had. Small but perfectly formed, there’s enough spare space to throw a few shapes too making this a bit more than your average bar. Music is a mixed up as the drinks, but gets everyone to their feet nonetheless. 
Crowd: 18-35 dancing mavericks who like put on a bit of a fashion show to upbeat grooves 
Entertainment: DJs, dancing 
Best Cocktail or House Special: Those 100 of the finest imported rums, ask for recommendations and the staff will fall over themselves giving them 
Children allowed: No
Disabled access: No


Liars Club
19A Back Bridge Street, City, 0161 834 5111. M32 PBU. Web
Mon-Wed, Sun 5pm-midnight; Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am
Tiki freaky with endless Tiki paraphernalia collected by Captain Lyndon from around the world complete with palm trees and bamboo clad walls. The venue is a basement that is lush and seedy all at the same time, one of those places where time disappears and suddenly its five in the morning and you're in trouble at home because, "Honest, love, no honest, there was no signal and in any case my battery had run out, and maybe I'd had one to many drinks...what perfume smell?" 
Crowd: Youthful professionals getting jiggy into the early hours with the odd stray forty something and the odd blonde lush
Entertainment: DJ,s Quizzes, Live Acts and so on): Monthly rum society events & private cocktail masterclasses are available to book
Best Cocktail or House Special: The Zombie - we sell more of these than anything else
Children allowed: No
Disabled access: No


Matt & Phreds 
64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, City, 0161 839 7187/7002. M4 1LW. Web
Mon-Thu Sun 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat 5am-3am.
With thick red velvet curtains, trilby hats galore and atmosphere so thick you need a hedge trimmer to get to the bar, Matt & Phreds is the prime jazz venue in the city centre. Live music as delectable as their pizza is on six nights a week and entry is free from Monday to Thursday. The bar attracts a diverse but mellow crowd and the staff are friendly to the point where you almost expect them not to charge you for the drinks. The highlight of the bar’s calendar is the jam session which takes place every first Monday of the month where anyone is invited to join the band on stage. The night evokes the true spirit of jazz in its spontaneity and improvisational flare and should be considered as one of the most entertaining nights in the city centre (even if you don’t own a scarf or fancy yourself as the next Miles Davis).
Crowd: Jazz fans of all ages and others craving the grubby indie spirit
Entertainment: Gigs, yes jazz ones
Best Cocktail or House Special:
Signature dish (if applicable): Home-made pizza
Children allowed: No
Disabled access: No

Matt And Phred'sMatt And Phred's

Night and Day Cafe
Oldham Street, City, 0161 236 1822, M1 1JN. Web.
Mon-Sat 10am-2am; Sun 11am-12pm
If you’re a fan of live music you will love this folky café bar which hosts an eclectic range of electro, jazz, indie, rock, hip-hop and acoustic gigs every day.  Artists include international touring bands, local singers and bands and up and coming artists.  Its standing on a busy city street makes it a popular venue for locals, but as each band brings along its own audience, a diverse crowd frequents here. Night and Day boasts an impressive absinth collection and selection of draught beers and also has a food available.
Crowd: Eclectic musical remit, indie crowds, students and those looking for a casual after work beer
Entertainment: Live bands almost every day, Clubs Nights, DJs and Art Exhibitions
Best Cocktail or House Special: Jesus Juice
Signature dish: Night and Day Homemade Burger -served with gherkins, chutney, coleslaw, salad and chips
Children allowed: until 7pm
Disabled access: Yes 

Night and DayNight and Day

Odd Cafe
Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, City, 0161 833 0070. M4 1ER. Web.
Sun-Wed 11am-midnight; Thu 11am-1am; Fri-Sat 11am-1.30am
Now one of the older of the indie bars with offshoots in Chorlton and amongst the students on Oxford Road. It's a fun, mismatch venue with tables covered with old school wham and Rod Stewart records, shelves holding collections of ornamental tat: generally colourful cosy décor. There's mismatch wooden chairs and an stylish indoor-outdoor theme with bunting and trellis around the walls – but not OTT. It get's very busy for lunch and is a popular venue on a weekend.
Crowd: Northern Quarter clever sods watered down at the weekend by suburbanites touristing in the area.
Entertainment: DJ Thurs-Sat, Quiz on Wed, 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month – Live bands, poetry and open mic nights.
Best Cocktail or House Special: Mortsubite Cherry Beer 
Signature dish: Lamb Kofta and Tzatzyiki Pitta with Fries 
Children allowed: Until 7pm
Disabled access: Yes

Odd BarOdd Bar

Port Street Beer House
39-41 Port Street, City, 0161 237 9949, M1 2EQ. Web
Tue-Thurs 4pm-midnight; Fri 2pm-midnight; Sat noon- 1am; Sun noon- midnight 
As the name suggests Port Street Beer House is an establishment designed for those whose taste in ale goes above and beyond the standard swill. Hidden away on the corner of the eponymous Port Street and the aptly named Brewer Street, this treasure trove is brimming over with craft beers, real ales, and unique brews - both UK, US and from round the world. The bar regularly hosts beer festivals and meet the brewer events ensuring the customers cultivate as close a relationship as possible with their tipple of choice and the brewers get to see their creations being put to good use. The bar’s interior resembles a stripped down pub with a deceiving amount of room to accommodate the gallons of personality that exudes from the walls. Nice beer garden out back as well. Although only having been open for two years, Port Street Beer House was recently named one of the top ten spots for craft beers by The Guardian securing its position as one of Manchester’s unmissable drinking holes.
Crowd: A cool younger crowd with men in their twenties sporting beards and flat caps and the sort of women who choose not to read 'Fifty Shades...' The odd CAMRA fella as well.
Entertainment: Meet the Brewer events and Beer Festivals
Best Cocktail or House special: Dive in and sample away, two many specials to focus on one 
Children: Yes
Disabled Access: yes 

Port Street BeerhousePort Street Beerhouse

Richmond Tea Rooms
Richmond Street. City, 0161 237 9667, M1 3HZ. Web
Mon-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 10am-11pm; Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 9am-10pm

You almost forget you’re in central Manchester here as the outdoor presentation and indoor decor is quaint and rustic. This is a fantasy of a teashop in a quaint country village. The traditional tea room has an impressive range of different blends on offer, and the OTT decor is said to be Tim Burton inspired. The cocktail lounge has a number of quirky fixtures and fittings with enough interesting bits and pieces in the antique cabinets to keep you interested whilst you choose from a wide range of cocktails. The tea room opens every morning, and the cocktail lounge is open from 4pm on weekdays, 1pm from weekends.
Crowd: Mature gay venue in the village but welcoming to all comers and much more sedate and comfortable than the meat markets round on Canal Street
Best Cocktail or House Special: About to release a new revamped cocktail menu
Signature dish: Black pudding and bacon salad
Children allowed: Until 8pm
Disabled access: Limited disabled access

Richmond Tea RoomsRichmond Tea Rooms

Grosvenor Street, All Saints, 0161 273 1552, M1 7HL. Web
Mon-Wed 12 noon-midnight; Thu 12 noon-1am; Fri-Sat 12 noon-2am; Sun 12 noon-midnight
Sandbar is a popular watering hole for students and lecturers alike, not to mention locals. The simple, no thrills decor in a late-Georgian house gives the bar a warm, friendly, and approachable atmosphere. Sandbar is appreciated for its extensive collection of imported German beers, and beers from local micro breweries. It is listed in CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) Good Beer Guide. Building on this enviable reputation, Sandbar is also developing its spirits cabinet; now stocking close to one hundred different whiskies.
Crowd: Lecturers reading papers, pale poets reading verse, post-grads, students and overspill from the much louder Deaf Institute over the road.
Entertainment: Wide range of events, including art workshops and live music
Best Cocktail or House Special: Augustiner Helles
Signature dish: Pan roasted chicken breast stuffed with spinach, garlic and mushroom
Children allowed: Until 9pm, with parent or guardian
Disabled access: Limited disabled access 


1 Canal Street, City. O161 236 4593. M1 3HE. Web
Mon-Thu noon-11; Fri-Sat noon-1am; Sun noon-10.30pm
The original laid-back Village venue. Taurus more than a decade ago slowed the pace of the frenetic Canal Street scene with an easier-going style where people could drink, eat and meet in pleasant surroundings and without pressure from their peers straining to 'have fun'. The bar’s concept draws heavily on astrology hence the name. Customers are drawn to the chilled and unpretentious feel, to which good cocktails, leather sofas, delicate lighting and a gently soulful playlist all contribute. Definitely one of the most civilised places in The Village whether for food or slacking.
Crowd: Young and old from all backgrounds, a true Cheers variety
Entertainment: Art exhibitions, theatre, music
Best Cocktail or House Special: Espresso Martinis and Ritz Fizz
Signature dish: Lamb Henry, slow roasted lamb shank
served with a minted pea mash and a red wine jus
Children allowed: Yes
Disabled access: Yes


Canal Street, City, 0161 236 9003, M1 3HE. Web
Mon-Wed 4pm-12.30am; Thu 3pm-1am; Fri-Sat 4pm-2am; Sun 2pm-12.30am
 Velvet is a restaurant, bar and hotel all rolled into one. The bar area is on the ground floor – actually up a few steps – and is compact, colourful, cosy and normally rammed with people. The purple paint job in particular gives the place a relaxed vibe. Unlike your average bar, a big TV screen is discreetly placed behind a set of curtains for broadcasts the management deem worth showing. There are a number of offers available, including a happy hour running from 4-7pm, seven days a week. The stairs down to the restaurant contain a famous fish tank – no honestly in Manchester that fish tank is famous. Happy hour 4-7pm, seven days a week.
Entertainment: Has a big screen for football matches, and will show Olympics coverage. There is a DJ at weekends from 10pm
Best Cocktail or House Special: Glitterball: a house cocktail which contains, as you may have guessed, edible glitter.
Signature dish: Sunday roast
Children allowed: No
Disabled access: Yes


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111 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Lynda Moyo shared this on Facebook on July 17th 2012.
SmittyJuly 17th 2012.

Not a single bar from the Printworks or the Locks. Some mistake, surely?

On a more serious note, I know it's a bit Village heavy, but no Molly House? Madness! Best bar in town that also do the best tapas in town (which you really, really need to review!).

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Mr.HydeJuly 17th 2012.

Smitty is right, list is incomplete without Mollys

MancAdam85February 17th 2013.

Totally agree. Love Molly House I'd have been happy to see another of the village bars omitted for it.

As a gay man who doesn't really like gay bars, I love the new breed of businesses in the village which are friendly, open to all and don't necessarily cater to the lowest common denominator.

EugeneJuly 17th 2012.

Good choice....been to all but about 3 of those, so def need to sort that out.
I reckon you should have included Corridor off Chapel St but then that is Salford so ignore me. Oh, and Dukes! Best beer garden by a country mile. Serve Hoegaarden plus more exotic delights and have a great bbq. And while I am at it, why is Knott bar not on the list? Possibly has the best atmosphere in the south side of the city centre....answers on a postcard please!

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 17th 2012.

The Molly House is going in the Best of list for pubs. It is more of a pub than a bar in our humble... Knott Bar should have been included, but we will be adding and subtracting from this list.

When we have enough they will be effectively our guidebook

1 Response: Reply To This...
SmittyJuly 17th 2012.

Great - it's the best pub/bar in town! But make sure you review their tapas. ¡Están fantasticos!

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Cloud 23? Really? Worst Bar in Manchester in my opinion. Thinks far too much of itself. All the rest are spot on though!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Matt RigbyJuly 19th 2012.

You went to one of the most upmarket bars in Manchester and came out thinking it "thinks far too much of itself"?

AnonymousJuly 19th 2012.

I expected upmarket alright, but the service was cack, the drinks alright, and the setting is a bit scruffy round the ages. It thinks too much of itself what it is and the service it provides!

BLR_3July 17th 2012.


Glad you mentioned Knott, but i agree it is more of a pub!

1 Response: Reply To This...
TimbucMarch 21st 2013.

You are taking the piss. Lammars is vomit-inducingly bad.

ChorltongalJuly 17th 2012.

I know this is a bit left of centre, but what about Tiger Lounge?

ChrisJuly 17th 2012.

Cask?! Where they've been serving some of the best beer in Manchester (including Krombacher) for the last 10 years?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Dylan McCafferyJuly 20th 2012.

Yes yes yes!

Elisabeth ReedJuly 17th 2012.

What about Noho?

1 Response: Reply To This...
food for thoughtFebruary 15th 2013.


Swiss JamesJuly 17th 2012.

Struggling to add to an excellent list.
Fringe- interesting, rough around the edges people (both the workers and the drinkers), doing the "20 beer taps on the bar" thing since before it was cool.
Trof- Solid food, fun music, don't mention the secret bit upstairs.
Temple of Convenience- so small you are going to make new friends.

SinsJuly 17th 2012.

Good list on the whole. Corbieres? Doesn't have as many people trying to be "cool" and failing miserably as the Northern Quarter does, perhaps more a local place. Good beer, jukebox, quick bites. It isn't my best bar in the city and I've not been in for while but I'd say it probably deserves a mention with the above places.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 17th 2013.

Corbieres loos are vile.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

No signage for socio? How about the big sign slapped on outside?

Huw ThomasJuly 17th 2012.

No list of Manchester bars should be devoid of Cask or Mojo!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
SinsJuly 17th 2012.

Good call, Mojo does need to be there. This sounds simple but it's the only bar I've been to when you are 100% guaranteed a perfectly cold bottle of beer, regardless of how many they've sold before, also get a proper wedge of lime when having tequilla, again a simple thing.

CanmilllsJuly 17th 2012.

But the music is so loud......Mojo nogo for over 35s

Jeanette DaviesJuly 17th 2012.

Don't shoot me down guys, but where are we 40+ meant to have a good time? I'm not dead yet. Is Manchester only catering for the 18-30 crowd these days. I wonder if you could possibly make a list of great bars/pubs to siut us? I bet you can't.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Goto to epernay! suitable for all ages 18-100...

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

I'm well over 40 and have been to most of these places and I can honestly say that they are all ages, shapes, colours, etc. Atlas should be on there. Should also think about a list for outside city centre.

KatJuly 19th 2012.

Im 38 and I have just moved to Manchester although I have gone out drinking and partying in Manchester for 20yrs and I must say Im struggling to find decent places these days that cater for the over 30's demographic.
Are there any bars/clubs that have a friendly, non pretentious atmosphere that play good music (I prefer urban music), and serve a large selection of decent drinks that arent ridiculously overpriced?
I often end up in Living Room if Im in the city centre meeting a friend for drinks, because thats the only place I dont feel like Im the oldest person in there!
But Im bored of going to the same places and Im keen to find new cool over 30's venues to sample.

SavFebruary 17th 2013.

Knott Bar, Dukes and Mark Addy have a good mix of ages, and you wouldn't feel out of place going in them 38+. However they aren't what you call 'glam', so if that was in your requirements too, then I don't think I can suggest somewhere that ticks both boxes. I think we just have to accept that post 35, you begin to become the minority in the Manchester bar scene. Does London have that problem??

AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

Age is a number. I am almost 40 and would feel comfortable in any of these bars. If you wince at loud music and dress head to toe in M&S then you are going to feel a little out of place, perhaps. But that's your choice. It's not your age that makes you feel out of place in establishments like those listed above, it's your state of mind.

NazcaJuly 17th 2012.

Is Dulcimer a pub too?

1 Response: Reply To This...
CButterJuly 17th 2012.

Nazca read the story - this is city centre and university only, honestly, the new illiterates

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Don't agree with Apotheca - trying to be something it's not, bit shabby and very snotty service. Where are the best cocktails in Manchester? Can we have a list on that?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Apotheca is a snob-fest.

Jared SzpakowskiJuly 20th 2012.


EugeneJuly 17th 2012.

Fair comment about Knott being a pub...I am sure its official name is Knott Bar tho....for some reason!
Hey, Jonathan, have you got a list of Best Salford bars on your list of lists?

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

No mention of Corridor. I'm not too surprised as I can't imagine those boys bending over for the Confidential Crew as the rest of the city does.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 17th 2012.

Listen this is not a bought list. Nobody paid to be on here. This is my number Anon 07876235638 and I never do a bought review. Call me. Let's chat about cynicism.

Eric JacksonJuly 17th 2012.

Clouds? Give me a break. And no Temple? It's the best bar in Manchester and the compilers of this need a good dose of re-education.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 17th 2012.

Eric, for God's sake do you think you as a man in his fifties goes out more in Manchester than people in their twenties? Cloud is right because it's different. Temple is not there because Big Hands is better and from the same people.

JJuly 17th 2012.

Keko Moku? tiki-tastic

LuggyJuly 17th 2012.

No knot ' fringe or temple.?

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Blackdog and especially Liars Club are packed full of chavs, very uncomfortable atmosphere unless you're up for a fight

Ghostly TomJuly 17th 2012.

I know ODD is there but I like the laid back atmosphere and excellent staff in ODDEST in Chorlton or are we not considering the suburbs yet? And I know The Deaf Institute is wonderful and there but I like the ambiance of TROF NQ on Thomas Street.

ConmanJuly 17th 2012.

Tiki - tacky shit.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Font Manchester should get an honourable mention, it's still got cheap cocktails to keep the students happy but they've been quietly assembling a rather awesome transatlantic bottle bar. They also always have something good on tap - plus a CAMRA discount, so long as you're there early evening or on week nights, I think you'd be impressed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
CharlieFebruary 18th 2013.

Only trouble with Font is that it gets rammed on the weekend.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Great list and I am really enjoying this new 'Best Ofs Section...' re-jigs the old memory and exposes some places you would normally not think of going to.
To add to this list I would have to say Cornerhouse Bar, for one of the best buzzy but still civilised atmospheres in the city & it's great for people watching, great drinks and quality bar food...

Eric JacksonJuly 17th 2012.

Jonathan, as a man in his fifties (like you), I have seen more fashions come and go than Paul Weller and this list, with a few notable exceptions (Common, Odd and the Beer House) reads like a guide to the bars we should avoid. Clouds is not different, it's just up its own arse, all fur coat and no knickers with rubbish beer, while Taurus is only good as a prelude to going to watch City - and that's only when you can sit outside in the sun. And for your info, I've been to every one of the mentioned bars, though most of them only once, cos they're pants.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Confidential Bureau Of StatisticsJuly 18th 2012.

For information only Jonathan Schofield is 48 years, five months and 22 days old: or by the Sleuth measure approx 17,694.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 18th 2012.

Anyway Eric what was aimed for here was variety so a visitor or local can choose a bar which may suit them. It wasn't primarily a list to make people angry.

Swiss JamesJuly 20th 2012.

The view from Clouds in incredible, if you spent the whole time crying into your pint of ale you're missing the point.

food for thoughtFebruary 15th 2013.

Go on son

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 18th 2012.

Oh dear, forgot the Cornerhouse anonymous. Of course it should be in there. We'll rectify.

AnonymousJuly 18th 2012.

Another shout for Mojo

Nick SpraggJuly 18th 2012.

On the whole a great guide summing up the character and make-up of these places. Don't agree at all with the comment above about Black Dog being full of chavs, I love the fact they keep the riff raff away, just as Bluu and TV21 seem to keep the Printworks overspill away from the rest of the NQ on a weekend.

I do still like Apoth, always found the staff really friendly. If you're going to take visitors to the "Best cocktails in Manc" it's got to be Socio. Love the mix of lager and ale in Common for such a "trendy" spot. Knott Bar should be on here though

That line about SandBar being the only place outside London with Krom on tap is bobbins (Temple/Big Hands both do don't they, probably a couple more too).

Surely nobody in their right mind can include Mojo as nobody sober has ever been in there?

18 Responses: Reply To This...
SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Bobbins. Krom.

SophieJuly 18th 2012.


SophieJuly 18th 2012.

'Love the mix'

SophieJuly 18th 2012.


SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Riff raff

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Controversial Knott Bar omission :( I was thinking the same thing D:

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Black Dog is full of chavs

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

See: 'The Stone Roses concert' for more details

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

My mistake, Blue Dog.

Sorry fans!

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Brew Dog****

SophieJuly 18th 2012.


SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Almost as embarrassing as posting on a Manchester Confidential discussion board

SophieJuly 18th 2012.


SophieJuly 18th 2012.

'The staff are really nice.'

Oh, hello. Here we go.

SophieJuly 18th 2012.

Oh ps: http://www.bupa.co.uk has some really great recommendations for you guys if you want to check out some new 'water holes' (lol)

SophieJuly 18th 2012.


AnonymousJuly 18th 2012.

Oh you really are a long haired knob!

GordoFebruary 18th 2013.

Gordo can confirm that they a®e keeping the Riff Raff away here: he was barred from entering at one in the morning on Friday after a twelve hour drinking session started off by Schofield and finished with Franco Sotgiu. Been ill for three days.

JPJuly 18th 2012.


SmittyJuly 18th 2012.

Really enjoying these "Best of..." articles. Cracking idea.

AnonymousJuly 18th 2012.

Font on Oxford road and Wahlbar in Fallowfield would be my nominations, although other than these all my favourites are on the list!

StephJuly 18th 2012.

I know it's not been open long but I reckon Gorilla could be on this list if it's updated in a couple of months.

I also don't think that Cloud 23 should be on the list, but I would also take off Hula and Alchemist.

IanJuly 19th 2012.

Tib Street Tavern and Cord are decent.

Cuba Cafe would be a better alternative than Hula.

Helen Ramsbottom shared this on Facebook on July 19th 2012.
AnonymousJuly 19th 2012.

fringe BAR !!!!

AnonymousJuly 19th 2012.

i'd include fringe for sure. Also mancon THANK YOU for including information on disabled access, although its depressing how many otherwise excellent places get a "no" i appreciate the information being made public.

reader readerJuly 19th 2012.

Hey Jonathan. The two you might have added would be Corridor (ok its salford, just!) and my favourite (cos its my local) would be Hanging Ditch!? Great tour of Manchester last week btw. thank you...

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 20th 2012.

Dear Reader Reader is Hanging Ditch a bar? It's a shop first and foremost so when we do our Best ofs for casual drinking and the one for wine shops....well of course

AnonymousJuly 29th 2012.

fringe bar, even has an outside drinking space, rare.

AnonymousAugust 7th 2012.

Brew Dog, Keko Moku, Trof, Corridor, Temple...

AnonymousAugust 10th 2012.

I disagree with some of you who think Hula nad the Alchemist shouldn’t be on here, have you been to these venues?
Hula is a very popular, excellent small bar that needs no promotional advertisement to contribute to its success, its a fantastic bar with great staff who clearly ejoy their job (ive been going for around 9 months now and they still have the same staff, this says alot about the place) The crowd is varied, the drinks are fab and the music is very fitting, the only thing I can fault it for is its size but thinking about it, the small size adds to its charm.
Alchemist should be on the list because it is primarily a 'fancy' bar for everyone and it does excellent cocktails, the crowd isnt as 'snobby' as those in the Panacea and it oozes sophistication, there are very few bars like the Alchemist and therefore deserves to be on this list.
I agree Gorilla is a fab venue, I do believe it is more of a food place at the moment, maybe when they finish expanding the venue it could be re-evaluated.
Mojos should definitely be on the list, its the perfect bar for mid-twenties and upwards, excellent staff, great selection of drinks and fab music - yes it is a little loud, but this sort of venue isnt for those that want a catch up over a couple of drinks, its all about 'Rock n Roll'.
I also think that Font is a great bar for everyone, yes its quite a young studenty bar but im mid twenties and I enjoy this place, its great for world beers and cocktails, the crowd is varied and the atmosphere is chilled, great pre bar.
I was suprised not to see Josha Brookes on the list, but having not been there in such a long time I cant add more to that.
All in all excellent choice, and as always this sort of thing is a mtter of personal taste and opinion, its not a definitive list so if you disagree thats just one persons preference.

I enjoy these articles ESPECIALLY when you highlight new bars that have opened – I would like to see more reviews on individual bars and restaurants so I can have a nosey before I go and make up my own opinions.

AnonymousAugust 10th 2012.

Cloud 23 is all about the view. Everything else is horrible; the door policy, the service, the drinks menu, the carpet, the prices. It's a great view, but it's a shame the management have failed to provide somewhere that the city could be truly proud of. It should be a landmark bar, but ain't.

MFebruary 15th 2013.

Good list. There's a decent variety of styles here. Perhaps not the all the best but if you were new to Manchester this would give a good overview of what's available and you can go with what you like.

With that in mind how about adding a section at the bottom (or suggestions) saying 'if you like this you'll like...'


Big Hands: The Temple, Noho, Font, Joshua Brooks
Liar's club: Mojo, Lammars
The Alchemist: The Living Room, Australasia, Room
Port Street BH: Bar Fringe, The Knott Bar, Cask
Hula: Corridor, Keko Muko, The Whiskey Jar
Deaf Institute: Gorilla, Trof
Night and Day: The castle (why not mix pubs in)


AnonymousFebruary 15th 2013.

I agree with whoever said Blackdog Blackroom in the NQ has a horrible atmosphere on Friday and Saturday nights; it does. The other Blackdog Ballroom on NWS is *much* better in my opinion and one of my favourite bars. It's a lot less cramped due to the size and the rooftop-bar is really good for day-time drinks. Plus, and this is the key factor for me, it isn't filled with 90% w@nkers. It's a real mixture of people.

I would also include Gorilla - really good new addition to that end of town.

I'm not sure if Bakerie is considered more of a restaurant (it's a bread & wine bar by their own description), but if not, it's one of my favourites and is a little bit different to the usual places.

I would also add that I think The Alchemist on New York Street is better than the Spinningfields one.

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2013.

A pretty good list but I'd add Fringe and The Knott Bar. Also, thanks for including information about disabled access Mancon; can be hard to find, although obviously doesnt include places where disabled people are refused entry by security for no obvious reason (happens depressingly often) its helpful to know where there are no physical barriers.

IanFebruary 16th 2013.

Blackdog description: "A door policy of not attracting the idiots in helps immensely. "

Not true at all. And wasn't this bar one of the worst for police callouts?

Diane AppletonFebruary 16th 2013.

Black dog has started serving plastic at weekends and had one of highest police call outs. It certainly does attract the idiots, and there have been many brawls recently. Avoid. Corridor should be up there.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 17th 2013.

I take it you no longer work at the Black Dog now Diane.

Prince_HarmingFebruary 17th 2013.

It's a shame that The Molly House, one of the best places to drink in the city, didn't make this list. They have excellent beers, continental lagers and their tapas is frankly perfect. It's a shame that Richmond Tea Rooms (which is excellent, by the way), was the only Richmond Street venue to make it in to your list.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 17th 2013.

Molly house for sure. I'd add Troff but the door staff are vile.

melodyFebruary 17th 2013.

Kosmonaut is a great new bar, the crown and kettle in ancoats should get a mention

Anywhere on deansgate should be avoided, similarly print works, does anyone go to the locks anymore ?

Can we have a list of top 5 / 10 bars stuck up their own ass? I'd included

Living room
Cloud 23
Sugar Buddha (?)

Carole ZasFebruary 17th 2013.

Great to see taurus in with the bunch, its got great staff and i love the ambience of the place too lovely place to chill.

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2013.

As a woman in her 60's I'm struggling to understand why a 38 year old feels too old in many of the pubs/bars. Really enjoyed reading the list and have been to many of them. Enjoyed Jonathan's responses. Great piece.

AnonymousFebruary 18th 2013.

Not being familiar with The Castle on Oldham St - could someone like to explain the difference between "bars" and "pubs that are bar-like"?!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 20th 2013.

It means that it's a pub in which young people with beards and skinny jeans drink, and loud music is occasionally played.

StufflFebruary 18th 2013.

Dear Anon, one's a pub and other's more bar-like

Mel CollinsFebruary 20th 2013.

Liquor Store?

ColinApril 18th 2013.

Where Is best to go on a Monday night till late

AnonymousJune 18th 2014.

I love bars but not if it's not a bar and restaurant. Finger foods do nothing for me. Sports bars in Singapore www.boulevard.sg/…

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 18th 2014.


AnonymousSeptember 26th 2014.

This if the 5th visit to Manchester with a group of girls aged from 40 - early 50's and we have yet to find a bar / club for after dinner partying that we didn't feel like grannie's! Any suggestions of suitable bars / clubs, we may be middle aged but we're not giving in gracefully, disgracefully maybe!

AnonymousSeptember 26th 2014.

Not to be awkward but Liverpool or Leeds would be a better bet, Manchester doesn't do bars for 40s - 50s unfortunately.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 6th 2014.

Doesn't help us this trip as it's all booked!

AnonymousOctober 6th 2014.

Doesn't help us this trip as it's all booked!

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