25 brilliant bars in Manchester

Manchester's nightlife is legendary. It's a city where you can sip champagne overlooking the industrial skyline, sink a martini in a speakeasy, or even enter a hidden bar through a washing machine. And with a night out ahead, you're probably going to need a place to stay too - how about one of the coolest hotels in Manchester So, in no particular order, here's our list of some of the best bars in Manchester.

Gin parlours and experimental cocktail bars

1. The Botanist

This inside of this bar is like a funky conservatory with an industrial twist. The specialty gins come with a bit of herbal infusion, as you'd expect from the bar's name. They've also got live music every day, as well as a restaurant, and large range of craft beer, cocktails and fizz to try. Brilliant for: Gin  Getting there: 78 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2FWWebsite and Twitter

The Botanist

2. Elixir Tonics and Treats

You can get smoking gin cocktails and shots on a sharing tree at this experimental bar. Their poetic menu blends cocktails with quotations, so you'll get a side slice of culture with your drinks order. Brilliant for: Unusual cocktails and precise presentationGetting there: 123 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BY Twitter

3. Gorilla

The stylish Gin Parlour on the mezzanine level has a small, but diverse, range of world gins to try. Underneath the curved ceiling, you can sample their own house blends, like buttered gin and homemade syrups, for something different. Brilliant for:  Unusual gin and tonics Getting there: 54-58 Whitworth Street, Manchester, M1 5WWWebsite and Twitter

4. Allotment Bar

You can get a drink in a watering can at this horticultral Gin palace - it also has more than 60 gins to choose from. The rustic shed-like interior, with wooden furniture, exposed brickwork and plants, is a nice escape from city life. Brilliant for: Huge range of ginsGetting there: 24 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1FYWebsite and Twitter

5. The Alchemist

Part lab, part cocktail bar, expect your drink to come with some added flourishes, like changing colours, temperatures and smoke. They've also got another venue on New York Street, and both bars have outdoor terraces - a good choice for summer. Brilliant for: Molecular mixology and theatrical presentationGetting there: 3 Hardman Street, Manchester, M3 3HFWebsite and Twitter

Hidden speakeasies and basement bars

6. The Fitzgerald

Once you've found the hidden entrance, head upstairs into this moodily-lit drinking den for some classic 1920s cocktails. Brilliant for: Vintage cocktailsGetting there: Little Lever Street, off Stevenson Square (above Hula and Rosylee), Manchester M1 Twitter

The Fitzgerald

7. The Smithfield Social

Bluu's "secret" basement bar underwent a refurbishment in February 2016 and now opens to 2am. They've only got a small list of drinks to choose from, but they're all done well. Brilliant for: Smoking cocktailsGetting there: Smithfield Market Buildings, Manchester, M4 1BDWebsite and Twitter

8. The Gas Lamp

Venture down the stairs to this underground bar and you'll be rewarded with a large range of beer to choose from. Small, with white-tiled walled, what it lacks for in glamour it more than makes up for character. Brilliant for: Subterranean suppingGetting there: 50A Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3BWTwitter

9. The Washhouse

Visiting this place takes a little bit of planning ahead, if you're not booked in, you won't get in. If you like secret entrances and passwords, you'll love airing your dirty laundry at this speakeasy. Brilliant for: Getting a "load" of drinks inGetting there: 19 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 2AFWebsite and Twitter

Bars with a view

10. Cloud 23 Bar

Get your glad rags on and take the express lift up to Manchester's highest bar in the famous Beetham Tower. You've got floor to window ceilings to gaze out of while you sip a glass of fizz, or try one of their in-house cocktails like the gin-based Stratospheric. Brilliant for: The best views in ManchesterGetting there: Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQWebsite and Twitter

11. Epernay

Their glass lounge and balcony overlooks the busy Deansgate area, so you can people watch while you work your way through the extensive champagne list. There's a seasonal cocktails menu, so you can get some winter warmers when its cold and fruitier numbers for the summer months. Brilliant for: Champagne with a viewGetting there: Great Northern Tower, Deansgate, M3 4EEWebsite and Twitter

12. Manchester House - Lounge on Tower 12

While the fine dining restaurant here is deemed one of the city's best, their sister cocktail lounge also stands on its own two feet. Watch the sun go down over Manchester from the terrace and there's a DJ to keep the ambience upbeat until the early hours. Brilliant for: Skyline views of the cityGetting there: 18-22 Bridge Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3BZWebsite and Twitter

Playground Terrace

13. Rooftop Playground

The Great John Street hotel was once a school, and this south-facing rooftop terrace bar overlooks the former boys' playground. While hotel residents can have access to some of the exclusive features, like sun lounges and a hot tub, the rest of the roof garden is open for you to go and have a drink in the open-air. Brilliant for: Alfresco sunshine drinksGetting there: Great John Street, Manchester M3 4FD Website and Twitter

Themed and concept cocktail bars


14. Walrus

This well-established Beatles-inspired cocktail bar is known for its laidback atmosphere, straightforward food selection and great value cocktails. You can listen to some top DJs at the weekend, and they also have live music and acoustic events, although they haven't unearthed the next Fab Four yet. Brilliant for: Convivial cocktailsGetting there: 77-88 High Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1ESWebsite and Twitter

Cocktails at The Walrus

15. 17 Below

This "secret" 80s themed basement bar, tucked away underneath the Dogs "n" Dough bar, will take you back to the decade of the new romantics and Pacman. Only open four nights a week (Wednesday-Saturday), you can try your hand at some of the large arcade games or have a few rounds of pool. Brilliant for: Arcade games under moody lightingGetting there: Bow Lane, Manchester, M2 4JWWebsite and Twitter

Hula in Manchester

16. Hula

This fun and spacious Tiki Bar has all the cocktail classics you'd expect, with Pina Coladas, Mai Tais and Mojitos prominent. With DJ sets every night, this is a party bar to come and let your hair down and dance the night away. Brilliant for: Tropical cocktailsGetting there: 11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1DB *They also have a venue in Disdbury)Website and Twitter

Cocktails in Hula

17. Albert's Schloss

This Bohemian Pleasure Palace is the place to enjoy your own German beer experience - they've even got some Oktoberfest-style benches to park up at (or even dance on). You can try the Bavarian food or the Pilsner straight from the Tankovna, while some of the booths have a "push for Prosecco" button should you want to hit the bubbles. Brilliant for: Pilsner and pretzelsGetting there: 27 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QRWebsite and Twitter

18. The Molly House

You can find a huge range of ales, stouts and beers from local breweries at this fun and relaxed bar. There are different rooms to try, like the comfy Bordello or if the weather's nice - take your drinks out onto the Veranda (if it's not nice they'll have the covers up and heating on). Brilliant for: Real ales and beersGetting there: The Molly House, 26 Richmond Street, Manchester, M1 3NBWebsite and Twitter

Hotel bars and lounges

Mr Cooper's Bar

19. Mr Cooper’s House and Garden

This bar and restaurant, at one of Manchester's most famous hotels, is built on a former garden, and the cocktail menu reflects its roots. They've got an extensive premium spirit range, especially when it comes to whisky and gin. Brilliant for: Great pre or post-dinner drinks optionGetting there: The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DSWebsite and Twitter

20. Club Brass Roof Terrace

Hotel Gotham is one of the newest and exclusive bars in Manchester - but it's also a private members club. The good news is, you can head into the inner sanctum if you're staying at the hotel. Brilliant for: Stylised viewsGetting there: Club Brass, Hotel Gotham, 100 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU Website and Twitter

Drinks with a view (c) Hotel Gotham

Restaurant cocktail bars

21. Hawksmoor

The Hawksmoor restaurant group is famous for serving up some of the best steaks and beef dishes in the country - and their cocktails are also highly regarded. Their playful menu groups the cocktails together into themes, like cards and cigars and disco drinks, so you can find the perfect pairing, whether you've just finished dinner or arriving to start the evening. Brilliant for: CocktailsGetting there: 184 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WBWebsite and Twitter

Hawskmoor in Manchester

22. Cane & Grain

While you can get your fill of ribs in the downstairs skater-themed restaurant, the first floor bar is also a slice of Americana, with cocktails the specialty. The Liars Club lounge at the top is Tiki-themed, with a smaller selection of cocktails available in the bright bar. Brilliant for: Rum and ribsGetting there: 49 – 51 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter Manchester, M4 1NAWebsite and Twitter

Arty bars

23. Odd Bar

You can get a good range of classic cocktails, along with some more random in-house creations at this relaxed Northern Quarter bar. Later in the evening, the DJs take to the decks, with Friday's more hip hop and R&B, while Saturdays is where you'll get your House tunes. They also have an art gallery, with local artists featured and you can buy the paintings from the bar. Brilliant for: Music whiile you drinkGetting there: 30-32 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1ERWebsite and Twitter

24. Ply

A lot of people simply come to this bar for the pizzas, but even these have a twist, cooked in an imported Neapolitan mirror-tiled oven. However they do have a fine range of cocktails and craft beers to try while you admire the artwork. They also hold events in their gallery, including clothes swaps, art shows and beer pairing among others. Brilliant for: Getting a pizza of the cocktail actionGetting there: 26 Lever Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1DWWebsite and Twitter

25. Kosmonaut

Popular with the after-work crowd thanks to its week-night happy hour deals, this is a chilled-out venue to hang out in the day and then party at night. There's quizzes, live music, meet-ups and other events going on throughout the week. Brilliant for: Usually something going on thereGetting there: 10 Tariff Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 2FFWebsite and Twitter

Discover more about Manchester

Bankers Suite. Image by Mark Leeming courtesy of Hotel Gotham in Manchester

Manchester is one of the most popular weekend destinations in the UK - so don't go for the day, stay the night - here's more Manchester hotels to tempt you. You'll also need something to do in the day as well as a night if you're staying for the weekend - we've found 25 things to do in Manchester to keep you entertained. And while these bars are brilliant, there's much to be said for a good old fashioned pub - especially if you get to meet some of the four-legged friends who live there - meet Manchester's pub dogs.

Canal Street. Image via Marketing Manchester

Tell us about your trip

We'd love to hear where your favourite bars in Manchester are. Share your supping spots with us by leaving a comment below.

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