Manchester has long been known for its music culture and thriving nightlife scene.
You’ll find it hard to walk down a street within the city centre without passing a large arena, music venue, bar, pub, club, restaurant, cafe or basically everything else in between!
While music has always been at the forefront of the Manchester “going out” scene, the recent influx of investment into the city centre has meant an expansion of the drinks offering (in particular the cocktail range). This means that there’s now a large range of cocktail bars to suit all tastes.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best bars in Manchester and the trendy and innovative cocktail bars that the city has to offer. We’ve also added a few hidden gems into the mix. Whatever your cocktail preference, you can be sure that Manchester has a bar that will cater to them!
When we first started to compile the best bars in Manchester we hit upon The Washouse. We felt we needed to lead this list with one of the least publicised, yet most impressive cocktail bars that Manchester has to offer.
When entering the bar, you’re faced with a wall lined with some washing machines and many wonder whether they are in the right place. It’s only when you use the phone on the wall and give the password (that you receive on booking) will a secret, washing machine facade door open leading you into the intimate bar.
The cocktail range covers some of the basics but the Washhouse is better known for its interesting and unique cocktail range making an evening here an experience rather than a drinking session. Without giving away too many menu spoilers, you could easily see yourself consuming a “boozy breakfast” one round followed by an alcoholic vaping experience the next.
The staff are knowledgeable and interactive and whether you are looking for a date or group booking, you can be sure this cocktail bar will be unlike any you’ve experienced before!
Revolución De Cuba
In this guide, we try to cover a broad range of cocktail bars and if you are looking for a fun and vibrant bar, Revolución De Cuba is the ideal place and is definitely among the best bars in Manchester.
Located on Peter St (a recently emerged late-night hot spot), this two-floor cocktail bar is always busy and bustling with life. The Cuban inspired menu means you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the rum range and if you enjoy a Mojito, you’ll find the classic and a few unique variations at Revs De Cuba.
While the top floor is for table service, food and cocktails, you’ll soon find yourself venturing downstairs to the basement which features live entertainment and a dance floor encouraging you to tap into some inner Latino flair…
The Liars Club
Tiki bars aren’t quite as trendy as they were in previous years but The Liars Club is certainly an exception to this rule when in Manchester.
Their cocktail range is explosive for two reasons; one being that they love to flame their cocktails/shots (honestly, it must be 120ºC at all times behind the bar) and the second reason is that the cocktails do not hold back on measures or strength!
The Zombie is one of the best around and their extensive range of rum would have you believe you’re drinking in the Caribbean. Whether you go after a mid-week business meeting or fancy a late-night cocktail at the weekend, Liars Club is the top destination for Tiki lovers and is right up there with some of teh best bars in Manchester.
As you might expect from the name, Dirty Martini is a cocktail bar with a very specific speciality… Martinis.
Whether you like your martini shaken or stirred, you can be sure that you’ll get to choose from an extensive range at the ultra-modern and sophisticated bar on the corner of Deansgate.
Chocolate, espresso, passion fruit, wild strawberry, lychee & rose, classic and of course, the “Dirty Martini” are just some of the Martini blends that you can expect to try. If you’re not the biggest fan of a Martini though, don’t be deterred.
Dirty Martini also offers a solid range of classic cocktail serves with skilled and knowledgeable bartenders fully capable of finding your ideal cocktail. Oh, there’s just one more thing to keep in mind with this cocktail bar and that is their daily happy hour!
Yes, they run a daily happy hour (which is much longer than an hour in duration) so if you want to test out some of the cocktails at half price, be sure to check in between happy hours for an informal taster session.
Dirty Martini has made it into our shortlist of the best bars in Manchester as it’s a good time bar where there’s always fun to be had.
While Manchester can boast quite a number of iconic buildings, arguably topping the list is Beetham Tower. Within this skyscraper building that can be viewed from miles away, features Cloud 23, a bar that likewise gives panoramic views of the city centre and surrounding towns.
With Cloud 23, it’s very much the case that you come for the views and stay for the cocktails…without a doubt one of teh best bars in manchesters vibrant nightlife.
Their cocktail range isn’t too extensive with a split menu featuring classing and signature cocktails but it’s carefully curated using premium spirits and ingredients for a truly sophisticated drinking experience.
We’d definitely recommend checking out the Up, Up & Away cocktail which they market as “the world’s first floating cocktail”. This is served in a mini hot air balloon to pay homage to Manchester’s skyline while the Vimtonic is another favourite of ours using Vimto as a key mixer to give a nostalgic flashback to our earlier years.
Science & Industry
Hidden above another popular Manchester bar (Cane & Grain) is a secret cocktail bar that arguably produces the most spectacular cocktails that Manchester has to offer. It’s none other than the low-key “famous” Science & Industry bar.
As the name suggests, Science & Industry provide a laboratory inspired, sit down experience where you don’t just go for the drinks but also the theatre to receive a truly immersive cocktail experience.
The menu and bartenders are world-class when it comes to mixology (with an award-winning range) so you can either be treated to a well-executed classic or sample one of the groundbreaking and innovative cocktails that could one day become a future classic.
20 Stories is not specifically a cocktail bar but it’s one of Manchester’s most talked about and in-demand destinations.
Stunning roof terrace views overlooking Spinningfields, Castlefield and Salford, knowledgeable and incredibly tentative staff and solid drink offering (yes, this includes a decent cocktail range) means this is a bar you don’t want to overlook.
It’s not uncommon to see some easily recognisable faces in 20 Stories with professional footballers, social media influencers and local celebrities often seen enjoying the panoramic views and classic cocktail range. Therefore, If you are looking for a cocktail bar to be seen in, 20 Stories is the latest bar of choice in Manchester.
The Alchemist (Media City)
The Alchemist is known nationwide for their experimental and science-esque/molecular concoctions and while they have a number of bars across the city, it’s one on the outskirts of the city centre that offers the most appeal.
The Alchemist, on the waterfront of the quays in Media City (an area with large media corporations like the BBC and ITV, the Lowry Outlet Mall and a selection of bars and restaurants) is our preferred destination. From the outside, the golden building stands out for all to see with its futuristic and spaceship inspired architecture while the interior resembles a steampunk, retrofuturistic vibe.
The waterside views and interior design are good but the range of colour changing, dry ice infusing and chemistry inspired cocktails are definitely the main event.
It’s difficult to choose a recommendation as you’ll want to try them all but “The Colour Changing One”, “Pipe Dream” and “Infusions” are definitely some for those that want a WOW factor.
Cottonopolis is one of the best bars in Manchester, hands down. Situated in a Grade II listed building in the Northern Quarter (an area of Manchester known for its alternative and trendy bars), Cottonopolis is a Japanese inspired bar that stands out for serving its signature cocktail range.
The drinks are simple, minimalistic and understated, yet elegant, carefully curated and brilliantly executed.
This is due to the focus on Japanese culture and each cocktail is carefully designed using premium ingredients with equal focus on taste, aroma and texture to stimulate all human senses.
If you have an appreciation for the finer details in a cocktail instead of the more eye-catching and Insta ready modern cocktail offerings, you’ll find Cottonopolis to meet all expectations. We’d say that Cottonopolis comfortably caters to the cocktail connoisseur and the general public alike.
Everything about Hawksmoor is classy, elegant and typically “British”. While Hawksmoor is a steakhouse first and foremost, don’t let that distract from the award-winning and painstakingly crafted cocktail offering which is designed to seem effortless yet took years of planning and design.
Hawksmoor has an extensive cocktail list which is surprising considering it’s primarily a restaurant. This also includes one of the best low and no alcohol cocktail offerings Manchester has to offer. A focus is on sustainability (with reduced importing of fruit and utilization of local suppliers) while the four-part menu utilizes classics, high balls, fizzes and the above mentioned LoNo range.
Drinks like the “Fuller-Fat Old Fashioned” and “Reformed Pornstar” are under the Hawksmoor Classics range and really give you the feeling of a high-end, premium drinking experience. If you’re looking for one of the best bars in Manchester, Hawksmoor has you covered.
We’d forgive you for not considering Tattu when it comes to the best bars in Manchester. The stunning venue is better known for its romantic and picturesque interior alongside its carefully curated menu made up of Chinese cuisine.
Much like Cottonopolis mentioned earlier though, the cocktail menu at Tattu is often an underappreciated addition due to the popularity of the venue and food menu in general.
With that said, the signature Chinese inspired cocktails are excellently presented with some unique side additions like “Skull Candy” (a crystal skull serve) and “Samurai’s Garden” which are both cocktail serves that are just as picturesque as the venue itself.
Manchester’s nightlife is exceptional, it really has become a fantastic city to live in or visit. Although we have put together our shortlist of the best bars in Manchester there are more…a lot more. So get yourself out there!