Think you know your manhattans from your martinis, and your pisco sours from your pina coladas? There’s no harm in checking just to make sure. With as many quality bars, restaurants and clubs as we have in Manchester, it comes as little surprise that we’re a city known for appreciating a well-crafted drink. From twists on the classics to creative concoctions crafted with ingredients sourced from across the globe, these cocktail bars in Manchester have proved themselves some of the country’s best. Here’s our pick of the lot – take a peek and order a tipple of two.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Manchester
Best cocktail bars in Manchester
The Northern Quarter is home to many a decent cocktail joint, but the appeal of Apotheca is that it makes mixology both approachable and unintimidating for the masses – especially the hordes it welcomes at the weekend. Taking its name from the former apothecary it calls home, the bar acts as a modern-day chemist to Manchester, with remedial pick-me-ups its forte.
Veiled by neon lights and a misleading pawn shop façade, Dusk Til Pawn packs a powerful punch. It’s got the brooding aesthetic of a New York speakeasy, with industrial stools, corrugated metal, a totally free jukebox serving up a heady mix of Prince and Eurythmics, and plenty of moody wooden furniture.
When the original branch in Spinningfields was launched back in 2010, it was immediately clear The Alchemist was to become Manchester’s ultimate molecular heaven, winning hearts with both its intriguing drinks selection and a slick old-meets-new aesthetic. And so it proved, with the Alchemist still offering a distinctive, properly thrilling approach to mixology.
Homing in on ribs, rum, beer and bourbon, Cane & Grain’s offering is specialised but not too narrow. Each of its three floors assumes an entirely different persona, with the ground floor ‘Rib Joint and Tap Room’ a nod to the building’s former life as a skateboard shop, and acting as the primary, laid-back boozer for the masses.
Its exposed-brick shell filled with beautiful tan leather stools and classic copper barware, the interior of the Pen and Pencil is slick, inviting and made only better by a set of sociable benches in the middle of the main room. Along with an impressive bar team serving up twists on classics and house specials, you’ll find breakfast staples and, in the evening, plenty of American mixes that nod towards the show that inspired the bar.
Channelling a modern-day New York speakeasy, this stripped-back cocktail lounge has been known as both Corridor bar and Under New Management in the last few years. But no matter the name, this Salfordian hideaway is always bustling with post-work drinkers, and a lively late-night crew.
Manchester doesn’t do badly for tiki bars but The Liars Club must be the best. So much more than just a Zombie and Mai Tai haven, The Liars Club serves a variety of tropical-inspired cocktails and tiki variations on old classics, with crowd-pleasing sharers that become a party piece at the bar – think pina coladas slurped from a hollowed-out pineapples and drinks served in novelty steins, barrels and volcanoes.
Serving up ‘tonics and treats’ that play on the venue’s moniker, Elixir is a sanctuary within the city centre. Try the Totally Herbaceous, featuring the green fairy herself, little miss Absinthe, or the Window of Windsor, a twist on a White Lady with gin, triple sec, egg white, lemon juice and fino sherry, finished off with ‘caged truffle and intensifying atomisers’.
Beetham Tower is an imposing landmark and its location on the site of Manchester’s old Roman fort means that all roads into the city seem to head straight for it. From traditional favourites to complex creations with dry ice wafting out of them, the drinks do not disappoint, and there’s a fine selection of wines and beers, too.
With a sumptuous sky bar and tasting menu by ambitious executive chef, Aiden Byrne, Manchester House celebrates the city’s inimitable sense of style. As the flagship restaurant and bar of Manchester’s most prolific and showy restaurant group, Living Ventures, no expense has been spared on the sleek industrial-chic design – or on the multi-million-pound state-of-the-art kitchens.