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Manchester House, Manchester

The 11 best cocktail bars in Manchester

Looking for a top-notch tipple? Head to these cocktail bars in Manchester for the city’s best mixed drinks

Rob Martin
Written by
Rob Martin
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When it comes to cocktail bars in Manchester, there’s a heck of a lot of choice out there. Some prefer to stick to the classics, offering slight variations on traditional mixes, while others are making bold decisions about what makes your taste buds tingle.

Whatever your poison, Manchester has the cocktail bar for you, from fancy hotels to small dives. 

With so many quality bars, restaurants and clubs in this city, it comes as little surprise that we’re a city known for appreciating a well-crafted drink. From faithful classics to creative concoctions crafted by world-class mixologists, 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 or two.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Manchester

Best cocktail bars in Manchester

Dusk Til Pawn
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

Veiled by neon lights and a misleading pawn shop façade, Dusk Til Pawn packs a powerful punch. It’s got the brooding aesthetic – and pitch-perfect cocktails – 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian

Housed in a stunning grade II-listed former tailor’s studio on the corner of Newton Street and Dale Street, Cottonopolis is a slick bar and restaurant serving up sushi and more. Drinks-wise, we’re talking cocktails that sit just on the right side of gimmicky, though beneath the frills sit strong flavours and clever blends.

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Small but not stuffy, this basement hideaway opened in 2016 and has become a stalwart of the Manchester cocktail scene while somehow managing to retain its air of secrecy. Cocktails are imaginative (anyone for an Elephant Love Medley?) and the setting – it’s in the beautiful Victorian Queen’s Chambers building – really add to the atmosphere.

Sure, OSMA is a restaurant first and foremost, with a growing and fully deserved reputation for some of the best food in the region. But, oh my, those cocktails... With as much care and attention to detail as OSMA’s best dishes, their mixes surprise and delight with inventive flavours and combinations. Don’t just take our word for it when we say that these are some of the very cocktails in the city – try the Gin & Tea (that’s Early Grey just to clarify) or the Cilantro Daiquiri and see for yourself.

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Cocktails at the Black Friar are as surprising as the pub itself. What looks on the outside like something very traditional reveals itself to be something altogether more contemporary once you step inside. The classics are well catered for, from Martinis to Moscow Mules, but for those feeling a little more adventurous, the Friar’s signature cocktails, including the Monk’s Tipple and the Holy Negroni, are a blessing.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

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 cocktail bar mixology.

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  • Restaurants
  • American

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. The cocktail menu is beautifully and clearly illustrated: you’ll certainly know what you’re drinking.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

With an exposed-brick shell filled with beautiful tan leather stools and classic copper barware, the interior of the Pen and Pencil is slick and inviting. Along with an impressive bar team serving up twists on classic cocktails 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars

Set within the heart of Manchester’s main gay village, Velvet is a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar that adds a touch of class to the revelry of Canal Street. As one of the few proper cocktails joints in the Village, Velvet has become a forerunner in luxurious drinking and canal-side dining.

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