The 2019 Guide To The Best Bars in Manchester

Welcome To The Best Bars in Manchester!

Wanna know what are the best bars in Manchester? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.

Manchester is a second home to me. Whist was I born some 50 km away in Halifax, Manchester is the nearest real city (sorry Leeds but you are shit) and is very accessible at a mere 45-minute train ride away (although a long-running Northern Rail Train Strike has put paid to that). 

When I was a kid I supported Manchester United, as a teenager, I got into Manchester Sound and then I also lived there in 2016. I also walk like a Manc (with attitude), I love a good Kagool (rain jacket) and so consider myself an honorary Mancunian.

So yeah, I am properly qualified to provide a quick rundown on the best bars in Manchester!

Quick Answers

In case you can’t be arsed to read my post and just require a list of the best bars in Manchester, here it is!

Best Pub In Manchester – The Temple Bar

Best pub in Manchester For Burger and Beer – Brewdog

Best bar in Manchester For Gigs – Gullivers

Best For Music – Gorila

Best For Cocktails – The Alchemist

Best bar in Northern Quarter – Blue Pig

Best Hipster Bar in Manchester – Trof

Best Late Bar – Night & Day

Best Value in Manchester – Moon Under Water

Best For a View of Manchester – Hilton

Best Outside the Centre – Big Hands

Best Pub Near Piccadilly Train Station – Piccadilly Tap

Best Bar near Manchester Victoria Station – Sinclair’s Oyster Bar

For those of you who can be arsed to read on, lets crack on.

Best  Pub In Manchester – The Temple Bar

Best Bars in Manchester
The Temple, Best Bar in Manchester IMO

An underground, pint-sized dive bar in what used to be a public urinal = the best pub in the whole of Manchester!

You could very easily miss Temple, it is located down some stairs found on the corner of  Bridgwater Street. Once inside, it is a warm, welcoming, unique dive bar.

The walls are covered in posters and graffiti and the soundtrack a tear up of edgy indie and 70’s rock. Do note that owing to the small capacity it can be hard to actually get inside on some weekends.

Whilst this is my personal favorite pub in Manchester, it may not quite be to everybodies taste and the toilets are not always that clean.

Best For Burger & Beer – Brew Dog

Hip Manchester is renowned for its independent, boutique bars but there is still room on this list for a few chains.

The Brew Dog brand is on the cusp of going truly international and yet, for now, retains its authentic feel and successfully manages its clientele (it’s too expensive for chavs). The beer is excellent – the Iconic Punk IPA is a big favorite but the seasonal variations are also worth trying.

Best of all, Brew Dog has an amazing Burger menu that boats 2 awesome vegan burgers. This is the future of chains. Raise your standards everybody else. 

This is one is located on Peter Street.

Best For Gigs – Gullivers

Best Bars in Manchester

The downstairs section of Gullivers is an old style, classic British pub replete with brass everything and pint glasses with handles. American tourists love this kind of thing.

It attracts a mixed crowd of ale drinkers, hipsters, students, and ket-heads. The upstairs and backrooms are given over for gigs and for just a few £ you can catch one of the best UK’s up and coming bands (as well as some decidedly average going nowhere ones).

You can find this place in the Northern Quarter. You can access it from near the end of Oldham Street or from Tibb Street.

Best For Music – Gorilla

Gorilla down Whitworth Street is owned by the Manchester-based Troff Brewery (along with the Deaf Institute, Albert Schloss and er, Troff). In addition to its own brand Troff lager and cider, there is a decent selection of spirits and pretty looking tiny tins of craft ale from around the world.

Gorilla is a very slick and cool bar and some may even say a bit pretentious. The upstairs section (which gets busy) has hipster DJ’s playing electro most weekends and the downstairs is reserved for gigs.

There are usually bouncers who will give you the quick once over to ensure you are cool and sober enough to come in. If you don’t get in, then there are some other decent pubs in the vicinity so don’t despair.

Best For Cocktails – The Alchemist

The Alchemist is another chain bar. It markets itself primarily at professional types and offers a great selection of well-mixed cocktails. For the heathens, it also does Stella Artois lager.

The decor is clean and flash and the staff smart and polite. The Alchemist is the perfect contrast to the grungier, dive bars on this list.

There are 2 of these in Manchester. One on Hardman Street down near the courts and one on New York Street which is a bit more central.

Best In Northern Quarter – Blue Pig

A lot of Manchester’s best pubs are situated in the Northern Quarter.

The Northern Quarter represents the cooler end of Manchester’s nightlife (Deansgate been more for the straights). There are loads of great pubs, bars, and clubs here but one is my favorite. I don’t really know why maybe its the 70’s kitsch art on the wall. It also does great Sunday dinners.

Best Hipster Haunt – Trof

Hipster culture is Ubiquitous in the Northern Quarter and the area almost rivals Shoreditch in terms of the beard and cap per square mile ratio. Happily, though, the Manchester hipsters are a bit less pretentious than their London counterparts (Yes I am unashamedly re-igniting the North Vs South debate) and as long as you know your Twin Peaks and Avocado’s, you’ll find them to be a quite welcoming bunch.

Trof is my personal pick of the Hipster Bars on account of its pleasant soundtrack and laid back vibe.

Best Late Bar – Night & Day

Night & Day on Oldham Street has been around for a while now and has seen a whole raft of competitors come and go. By day, it acts as an adequate cafe doing decent coffee and ok meals and then livens up a bit in the evening as punters swap cappuccinos for pints.

However, Night & Day really comes to its own late nights on weekends. If you don’t fancy going to a club or are on a budget, then Night & Day have you covered. It generally opens til 2 am most weekends with DJ’s playing Indie, Psych, Soul or Funk into the wee hours. After hours Night & Day becomes a jumping dive bar with a very friendly, inclusive vibe. When I lived in Manchester, some of my best times happened in here.

Best Value – The Moon Under Water (Spoons)

For any visitors from overseas, Wetherspoons is a British institution. It’s a massive pub chain with several operations in pretty much every town in the UK and even has its own newspaper. Whilst Wetherspoons is owned by an odious, hypocritical bully, it does cheap beer so I can’t afford to boycott it.

Spoons attract a wide spectrum of clients. By day you will find old men sipping real ale whilst reading the paper and on an evening, banking lawyers rub shoulders with tradesmen. The selection of drinks is impressive (and did I mention its cheap) and the food is also very adequate for its price.

Wetherspoons is ideal for a few warm-up drinks before you move on to the pricier, niche bars. There are a few other little chains on Deansgate and the area is a bit cheaper than the trendier Northern Quarter.

Best Bars in Manchester

Best For A Grand View – Hilton Cloud 23

With its entrance down on Deansgate, The Hilton Hotel dominates the Manchester skyline for miles around. Whilst you probably can’t afford to stay in the Hilton, you may be able to stretch your budget to an overpriced cocktail in order to enjoy the view.

There is a lift all the way up to the top and the bar is generally not too crowded. This is the Hilton so dress at least a bit smart, don’t be visibly drink and don’t try to enter in a big group. This one is obviously great around sunset or for those who love watching city lights. 

Note that it’s high up so it can get rather chilly in the outdoor areas. Bring a jacket.

Best Outside the Centre – Big Hands

Situated on Oxford Road about 1km from the center towards Rusholme, Big Hands is one of my personal favorite pubs in Manchester. When I lived in Rusholme, this was kinda my local so maybe I am a little bit biased. 

It’s a dark, spacious and cozy indie bar. Big Hands attracts a mix of students from up the road as well as Indie types of all ages. There is a CD jukebox with a mix of classic rock and indie stalwarts and the venue also hosts gigs. Big Hands is also a favored haunt of Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.

This one is definitely worth calling into if you are headed down the Curry Mile for some top natch Asian food or calling by the University of Manchester for some reason or other. It gets pretty busy before and after gigs held at the Academies.

Best Bar Near Piccadilly – The Piccadilly Tap

Got a train to catch but have an hour or so to kill? Then hop into the Piccadilly Tap near the main entrance of Piccadilly. It has an awesome selection of beers and because of its location next to the train station attracts a totally random assortment of punters. Saturday sees hordes of Football fans and Friday tea time sees businessmen on their way back to London.

The location is about 2 doors down from the front entrance to Piccadilly.

Best Near Victoria – Sinclair’s Oyster Bar

Manchester Victoria Train station handles trains to and from the North West area and is the where the entrance to the Evening News Arena is situated. There is a pub situated right inside the train station but its a bit blah, to be honest.

Therefore I suggest taking the 5-minute stroll around to Sinclair’s Oyster Bar which is one of the best pubs in all of Manchester. It’s a big old space with a glorious courtyard which is packed on sunny weekends.

Sinclair’s Oyster Bar is also a definite contender for the Best Pub for a Sunny Day on account of its spacious courtyard which catches a nice bit of sun.

It is located at 2 Cathedral Gates and the Courtyard is opposite Harvey Nichols.

And now the clubs…

Best Student Club – 42’s (aka 42nd Street)

42nd Street on Bootle Street is packed pretty much every night of the week with students getting loaded on cheap shots, stumbling about and then eventually copping off with each other.  

The music is a combination of current pop, classic pop and Indie favorites for the lads. Essentially its more of a giant sing-along than a clubbing experience; in fact, if you think about it, it is the 2019 answer to the much-maligned Victorian Dancehall/Cockney Singalong boozer dance hall.

I’m not gonna lie, this is actually my personal idea of hell but it is very popular so you may like it.

Best Clubbing Club – The White Hotel

The gentrification of Manchester, along with an encroaching police state and a counter-cultural holocaust, has forced the genuine club scene from out of the city center. The city that gave the world the Hacienda (and with it Acid House) has now forced authentic, edgy club culture to its suburbs. Oh the irony.

Step in long maligned Salford. White Hotel is situated in an old industrial state in Salford which is a brisk walk, short tram or cheap cab ride away. The White Hotel is literally a former garage which has been turned into a no-frills club, the walls are made of bare breeze block and the former mechanics pit is now a bar. Note that in winter, it can get cold at night so bring a jacket to rave in!

This is a proper rave experience and is not for everybody. Some of the best Techno, House and Psytrance nights in the UK happen right here. The White Hotel is the real deal.

Note that Salford does experience higher crime that the center so keep your wits about you. I recommend coming here by taxi from either Manchester centre (Victoria to White Hotel is £4 by UBER) or from Salford centre (about £3 by UBER)

Best Alternative Club – Rebellion

Rebellion is situated at the far end of Whitworth street towards the arches. Because of its city limits location, it gets away with a lot more than other clubs in the city center. Rebellion is basically a venue for hire and various promoters use it to put on whatever club night they wish.

One night its punk, the next death metal and the next Psytrance (big shout out to the Crystal Kids collective who put awesome Psytrance nights on here every few months). 

Do check ahead before visiting as the programme varies drastically. 

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