Manchester has lots of wonderful, well-known, world class bars. But it also boasts some brilliant secret bars and hidden gems for those in the know.
Whether you’re looking for subterranean drinking dens, secret entrances, or disguised shop fronts leading to cool hideaways, we’ve picked five of our favourite secret bars in the city.
Dusk Til Pawn
Looking in the window of Dusk Til Pawn, you’d be forgiven of thinking it was a dusty, cluttered, old-fashioned pawn shop, and just walking on by. Stop. Step inside, and this front gives way to a cool cocktail bar, with a great (and free) jukebox. There’s a fantastic range of whisky, too, and knowledgeable bartenders are happy to guide you through the selection.
Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, M1 1FB – twitter.com/dusktilpawn
Stumble across this hidden gem of a bar, down an access only side street off St Ann’s Square, and you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a real winner. A dark, subterranean, cave-like hideaway – opened in 1978 – it boasts what must be the best jukebox in Manchester. There’s a good range of real ales, continental beers and interesting wines by the glass as well as cocktails, plus great platters of charcuterie and cheeses. You may intend to have a quick drink, but you can lose hours in this place.
2 Half Moon St, M2 7PB – twitter.com/corbieresbar
Cane & Grain First Floor Bar
If you're feeling cocktails, head up to The First Floor Bar and we'll look after you. pic.twitter.com/2pDYAD3y8a
— Cane & Grain (@CaneAndGrain) June 27, 2015
You have to ask at the front desk if you want to try this cocktail bar, and a host will lead you through a secret door, up a hidden staircase, to what must be one of the coolest little finds in the city. Expect dark wood and plush furnishings, antique glassware, copper bar tops, and some eye-catching squirrel light fittings. With homemade syrups and bitters, the cocktails are top-notch – try a Sazerac or a New Orleans Fizz. The Rib Joint’s full food menu is available to order in the bar, too.
49-51 Thomas Street, M4 1NA – caneandgrain.co.uk
Pic: The Fitzgerald
With its hidden, side street entrance (on Little Lever Street, off Stevenson Square), and splendid, dark and moody interior, The Fitzgerald – located above Hula and Rosylee Tea Rooms – channels the classic 1920s speakeasy. You’ll find beautiful vintage glassware and an elegant and exciting range of cocktails, with two for £10 on Thursdays and live music. The South Side, a potent mix of Beefeater, lime and mint, found fame in the 1920s as the favourite tipple of Al Capone and his South Side Gang.
11 Stevenson Square, M1 1DB – thefitzgeraldnq.co.uk
Chocolate Orange cocktail at secret bar The Washhouse – Old Forester bourbon, blood orange liqueur, dark choc bitters pic.twitter.com/ayV1KkmMU9
— Louise Rhind-Tutt (@lrtpublicity) July 9, 2015
The newest of Manchester’s secret bars is shrouded in mystery, and we’re not going to give much away here. It’s bookings only (you’ll need to find the telephone number first), and then you’ll need to make your way through what you’ll be sure is just a laundrette. Once you’ve found the bar, though, you can relax with some great cocktails, leather banquettes, and a DJ set. Happy hunting!