The 14 Best Bars in Manchester

Although Manchester is still figuring out how to dress in layers and walk in heels, the city's boozing game is seriously tight. With loads of bars all within walking distance of each other, this is a bar-crawl kind of town. So start early, stay late, and try to remember to drink some water along the way. Hungover you will thank you tomorrow morning.

Best multi-story booze playground:

Cane & Grain

Northern Quarter

Tackle C&G like a pro by following these steps: 1) Walk through the delicious meaty smells of the ground floor, sneak up to the hidden cocktail lounge upstairs, and knock back a couple crafty concoctions. 2) Head back to the ground floor and stuff your face with ribs and bourbon while surrounded by skateboard memorabilia. 3) If it’s a Friday or Saturday, make your way back up the stairs and keep going to the top where a mini tiki den will whisk you away to an island party till the wee hours of the night. Got it? Good.

Best pizza & cocktails

Crazy Pedro's Part-Time Pizza Parlour


Sure, you could come here early for pizza and booze -- ballast is important in the sport of long-game drinking -- but it's only later that this place really shines through the dark paint and intentional grime. This place originally opened as a pop-up, but the owners quickly realized it'd be cruel to tease drinkers with their breed of agave-fueled anarchy without doing it on the regular. Serving food and booze till 4am, you’d be a fool to miss this party.

Best rock 'n' roll vibes:



After nearly two decades of pouring drinks and spinning tunes, this Manc institution is still the place for when you want shake things up and get down to rock & roll, old school punk, and the best guitar-driven tracks. Stacked with diner food till 11pm (hello boozy milkshakes) and a massive drinks list till 3am on the weekends, it takes very few prisoners.

Best Tiki bar:

The Liars Club


If you want a tropical holiday, but your bank account thinks that's a terrible idea, head to The Liars Club (conveniently located directly beneath Crazy Pedro’s). With a program run by the Tiki-tastic captain Lyndon Higginson, this mid-city island getaway filled with palm huts, over 100 rums, and plenty of fire gets seriously messy -- kinda like the last time you went on a tropical holiday.

Best spot for groups:

Tariff & Dale

Northern Quarter

While the 73-seat restaurant in the basement is pretty excellent, it’s the bar up top that gets our juices flowing. With high ceilings, lots of wood, and huge booths, plus an impossibly long bar with plenty of room to get those sweet libations flowing mouthward, it’s all super relaxed and easy here. Housed in an old linen factory, the best seat in this place is in the former lift, where you can hold court at the end of the bar and watch the crowd spin around you.

Best cocktails with a side of meat:



After Hawksmoor became a meat-eating household name in London, it was only a matter of time before it popped up in the North. Located in an old courthouse and filled with dark wood panels, high ceilings, and plenty of places to perch, this place serves up blindingly great drinks alongside an array of beef cuts, sides, and extras. As with its southern counterparts, there’s a distinct art deco feel going on here, so channel your inner Gatsby and get ready to eat some steak.

Best whiskey bar:

The Britons Protection

Gay Village

This old-school pub might look like a dressed up boozer at a first glance, but if you like whiskey, this is about to be your new favorite spot. Loaded with over 200 different bottles, it’s a bit of a pilgrimage spot for the brown stuff where you will find bottles unavailable elsewhere in town. The interior sports an ornate living room feel, complete with fireplaces, multiple sitting rooms, and chandeliers, while the massive and hidden garden out back is perfect for those rare sunny days.

Dusk Till Pawn
Dusk Till Pawn | Courtesy of Simon Ching and Rebecca Race

Best speakeasy:

Dusk Til Pawn

Northern Quarter

Although the name sounds like a reality show, and the front is covered with old guitars and random crap you might want to carry home -- especially after a few -- this is actually a bar, not a pawn shop. Slink into the leather seats, or hang at the bar and get busy with the bourbon list while you pick all your favorite tunes from the free jukebox. This place is known for its infusions and tendency to experiment, so don’t be shy about asking questions.

Best Asian eats & European beers:

Cottonopolis Food & Liquor

Northern Quarter

This former tailor shop in a Grade II-listed building has had a new lease on life with this recently opened bar and restaurant. Exposed brick, original floorboards, and an open kitchen give it all a very homey feel which somehow complements the Asian-inspired menu and heavily European beer list. Be sure to check out the tank beer, Krusovice, which is delivered weekly from the Czech Republic, plus the full cocktail menu from master mixologist Jamie Jones.

Best date spot:

Under New Management


The name here has flip-flopped a million times between Under New Management and Corridor, but either way, this intimate speakeasy serves up some of the best booze in town. With dark walls and low lighting, it’s easy to find a nook to share some candlelight with your date, and while the menu leans towards the classics, the world-class bartenders are always happy to experiment for your tasting pleasure. Even though the back bar has a more serious vibe, DJs help keep the attitude pretty light here by spinning Motown, soul, and disco until 4am.

Best spot for a big party:

Black Dog Ballroom

Northern Quarter

This is the destination for small outings that suddenly snowball into massive groups of 20. Rocking a subterranean warehouse vibe, it's got everything you need to keep a party rocking: food, booze, and a whole mess of pool tables. Plus, if you play your cards right, you might even get invited into the super-secret back room, where VIP treatment is the norm, with speciality service, a secret menu, and a mega-sexy vibe.

Best tequila bar:

El Capo

Northern Quarter

When you want to embrace your inner fiesta, head to this tequila haven on Tariff St. Get schooled proper about the spirit on the ground floor with some seriously expert bartenders, or go downstairs to knock back some margaritas and get loose. Debauchery totally is encouraged; just blame the tequila afterward.

Best all-day drinking spot:

The Pen & Pencil

Northern Quarter

From the same crew as The Violet Hour and Dry Bar, this Mad Men-inspired haunt is an all-day affair with a killer brunch game, and cocktails that would make Don Draper happy/sloppy. Snag a big table by the windows with your crew, or find a more secluded spot for some one-on-one time and settle in for a full-blown tipple -- just be sure to read the wallpaper in the bathroom, and try to keep a straight face as you walk back to your seat.

Best place to take Mum:

Mr Coopers House & Garden


With multiple Michelin Stars under his belt, Simon Rogan's spot in Manchester means business. Classy, refined, and still totally chilled out, this grown-up bar works closely with the kitchen to put together a menu filled with house-made syrups, tinctures, and seriously unique flavors that come straight from the garden. The main bar feels a bit like a library or members club, but in the "your every need will be taken care of" sense, not the "you need a card to drink here" sense.

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Haley Forest is a food & drinks writer who swears she never almost set Liars Club on fire. There’s no evidence, and you can’t prove a thing. Follow her (mis)adventures on all things social at @HCForest.