Manchester is a great city for finding a relaxed atmosphere to drink with friends, but it also has some of the most unconventional and alternative venues around.
Natasha Bissett hits the streets to find inviting bars with a distinctive twist.
The Oast House
This charming rustic-style bar specialises in roasted and barbecued meats, and fine ales. In fair weather, the beer garden teems with people enjoying the afternoon sunshine with a bite and a brew in hand. Inside, the décor is wood-heavy and adds to Oast House’s rustic charm.
The Avenue Courtyard, M3 3AY (0161 829 3830, theoasthouse.uk.com)
Black Dog NWS
With its sleek main bar, comfy dining area with couches, rooftop barbecue, pool tables and karaoke – this is a cool place to be. What better way to enjoy yourself with friends than with a good meal, refreshing drink, a couple of rounds of pool, and belting out classics in a stylish lounge?
11-13 New Wakefield Street, M1 5NP (0161 236 4899, www.blackdogballroom.co.uk)
This destination has so many interesting elements to admire. Above the main bar’s false ceiling is the spacious wooded gin parlour, where you can take in the bar’s unique wooden tunnel-curved ceiling. There’s a basement nightclub, and larger gigs take place in the railway tunnel next to the bar. How cool is that?
54-58 Whitworth Street, M1 5WW (0161 407 0301, www.thisisgorilla.com)
A classy joint in an unlikely location – the old Adult Deaf & Dumb Institute, in the heart of Manchester’s University corridor. The main bar has an impressive selection of beers and cocktails and serves delicious house specialities. At night, it also hosts great local musical talent too.
135 Grosvenor Street, M1 7HE (0161 276 9350, www.thedeafinstitute.co.uk)
The Grand Pacific
The very model of British regality but with a relaxed atmosphere, it’s modelled on the classy Stamford Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and boasts Asian and Australian cuisine. The tropical outdoor area is comfortable while the swanky interior bar has wine and spirits, including Japanese sake.
1 The Avenue, M3 3AP, 0161 831 0288 (australasia.uk.com/grandpacific)
As you’d expect from BrewDog, this is an industrial, no-nonsense beer bar with a mightily impressive collection of local brews, craft beers, and regular pints to keep you well watered with mates. While there, check out the wall art detailing different types of hops.
Dusk Til Pawn
A cheeky bar behind a pawn shop façade, you would be forgiven for assuming it was like any other shop in Manchester’s city centre – until you delve behind the scenes. Inside is an eclectic collection of items, a jukebox, saucy innuendo, and a great bar that specialises in unique flamboyant cocktails.
Stevenson Square, M1 1FB (0161 236 5355, Facebook)
Hurling a Latin American vibe at you from the moment you walk in, there’s potted palms by the front door, mosaic tiled floors, a bright orange and well stocked bar, plus unique illuminated paintings in alcoves on the restaurant walls. It may be a chain, but it’s got fantastic atmosphere.
84 Deansgate, M3 2ER (0161 819 2606, Facebook)
Understated on the outside, but anything but on the inside, here you’ll find a combination of classy Victorian library, comfortable traditional bar, outdoor pizza kitchen, and an indoor conservatory with plants. It really has everything for any weather or occasion. The library, complete with open fireplace, books and local memorabilia, impresses instantly.
2 Lapwing Lane, M20 2WS (0161 438 2332, www.the-metropolitan.co.uk)