One of the quickest ways to assimilate yourself into the pace of a city is to pop into a bar and order a drink – you can sit back and take in the city’s character, the architecture and, of course, the local booze. Whilst hitting up the first bar you see may seem like a good idea, realistically it’s best to have a few quality drinking holes in mind. 

Yes Bar Manchester
  1. Yes bar

Spread across four floors of an old auction house, Yes bar has quickly established itself as a Manc favourite since opening in 2018. The Charles Street spot plays host to a dizzying array of shows, whilst the multi-floor setup means you can still slip in for a quiet (and affordable) pint with friends. Oh, there’s also a roof terrace. 

The Whiskey Jar, Manchester
  1. Whiskey Jar

This inimitable Northern quarter spot lives up to its namesake – take a peek behind the bar and you’ll see a wall of glinting bottles of the good stuff (we tried to count but gave up somewhere around the fiftieth bottle and ordered an Old Fashioned). With regular live music, moody Grade II listed surroundings and a downstairs area you can book out, The Whiskey Jar is the place to go if you want to summon your inner Bogart. 

Night and Day Cafe, Manchester
  1. Night and Day

A true icon of Oldham Street, the 30-year-old institution has maintained its credibility as other Manchester bars succumb to trends and fashions. Night and Day have stayed resolutely shabby and cheerful, and you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to sink a few pints in the city. Despite absurd noise complaints, the cafe-cum-bar remains a hub of new music and local patrons. Here’s to another 30 years. 

Matt and Phreds Manchester
  1. Matt and Phreds

Another point for team Northern Quarter (sorry, Deansgate, it is what it is), Matt and Phreds is a dedicated Jazz bar tucked into the shade of Tib Street. With live Jazz 6 nights a week, and an impressive array of drinks to keep you starry-eyed, we had to include this one. 

The Castle Hotel, Manchester
  1. The Castle Hotel

Another Oldham Street icon, don’t be fooled by the name – The Castle is definitely a bar, and one with pedigree, at that: The Castle, despite name changes, can trace its roots all the way back to 1776. If history doesn’t impress you then the no-thrills, candlelit interior should have you comfortable and ready for a tipple in no time at all. 

Crazy Pedro's Manchester
  1. Crazy Pedro’s 

With two locations to choose from in Manchester, Crazy Pedro’s unique take on the classic pizza and booze combo. For drinks, you can expect an array of gaudy coloured cocktails, frozen margaritas and ice cold beers on tap. Soak it all up with a classic slice of pepperoni or branch out into weird and wonderful toppings like doner kebab… it just about works. The biggest draw, though, is the 4 am closing time meaning you can keep the (pizza) party going well into the morning. 

Cloud 23, Manchester
  1. Cloud 23

Taking the phrase ‘up-market’ literally, Cloud 23 is a vertigo-inducing cocktail bar that occupies the 23rd floor (get it?) of Manchester’s very own Barad-dûr, Beetham tower. Run by the Hilton group, Cloud 23 is one to book if you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot. Just try not to look down.

Washhouse, Manchester
  1. The Washhouse 

Hitching their horse firmly to the ‘let’s turn anything that isn’t a bar into a bar’ wagon, Washhouse have nonetheless managed to circumvent the gimmick pitfall by focusing on exclusivity and quality. You’ll have to make a booking to gain entrance to the ‘secret’ bar (we won’t ruin the entry process here, but get ready for some bewildering misdirection), but the cocktails are worth it, we promise. 

Science and Industry, Manchester
  1. Science and Industry 

Another day another hidden bar, apparently. Whilst the lack of visible entrance is enough to make you lament the days of the doorway, Science and Industry get a pass on the back of their genuinely award-winning cocktails. Located behind some crates in the Northern Quarter’s Cain & Grain, S&I take a genuinely fresh approach to cocktails, experimenting with ingredients like bee pollen, pistachio syrup and Sage Infused Armagnac – getting in might seem like a hassle, but getting out will feel worse. 

NQ64, Manchester
  1. NQ64

Ducking your head into a graffiti-strewn, subterranean entranceway you’d be justified in bracing yourself for the thud of techno and the body heat of a hundred gyrating students. Instead of bug-eyed dancers, though, what awaits is the warm neon glow of an arcade. Yes, NQ64 serves nostalgia by the glassful, allowing you to race Yoshi, lightning-kick Ryu and mash guitar hero all whilst getting merry. Count us in. 

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