The lockdown is (nearly) over and a bank holiday is on the horizon – this weekend is going to be huge.
However, though most of us can’t wait for that taste of fun and drunken normality, it is a sad reality that many of Manchester’s bars and restaurants will be chock-a-block this weekend, and that finding a table with or without a reservation might be a challenge.
As for a solution?
Well, it can only be Manchester’s famed hidden bars.
The city centre has an abundance of ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ establishments that are a little harder to track down than the rest, and here are some of the best ones…
Perhaps one of Manchester’s most ‘unsecret’ secret bars, The Washhouse is famed for its unusual laundrette disguise. You can only enter the premises after ringing the telephone in the laundrette and literally climbing through the washing machine-front door hybrid. Once inside, though, you’ll be able to enjoy an elusive list of cocktails, wines and beers.
It’s table bookings only and you’ll need to track down their phone number to get it organised. Good luck!
19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF
Tucked away down one of the Northern Quarter’s back alleys, The Fitzgerald will transport you back to the roaring 1920s with it’s subtle Great Gatsby theme and decor.
Live jazz and blues can be caught on weekends before the lively bar transforms with DJs playing soul, disco and funk until the early hours. The perfect bank holiday treat, if you ask me.
The Fitzgerald currently operates on a walk-ins only basis, so it’ll be first come first serve.
11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB
Science & Industry
One of the OG secret bars in the city, the ‘eccentric and experimental hideaway’ Science & Industry can be found hidden behind a secret door in the popular Northern Quarter haunt, Cane & Grain.
Once you’ve managed to figure out the trick door, which is blended into the wooden wall, you will find yourself in a vintage and dimly-lit cocktail bar, where a whole array of original and classic drinks will be waited to your table.
Science & Industry accepts both walk-ins and bookings.
49, 51 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
Behind Closed Doors
“Sex, rugs & funk ‘n’ soul.”
Subtly placed between a piercing shop and a t-shirt printers, this x-rated establishment could very easily be mistaken for something else entirely. The basement speakeasy features old fashioned decor with a sexy twist – raunchy artwork is dotted around the space, and the small 1970’s televisions play x-rated movies around the clock, so it might not somewhere to take mum and dad for a drink.
But, on a more fun note, each table features a fully functioning vintage rotary telephone that can be used to call up the bar for a cocktail.
BCD is accepting both walk-ins and bookings.
93 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LW
Speak in Code
This swish evening establishment might not consider itself as an official ‘secret’ bar, but it’s pretty difficult to locate. Tucked away on Jackson’s Row, this unique establishment brings you vegan eats, craft drinks and hip-hop music five nights of the week.
Speak in Code accepts both walk-ins and bookings.
7 Jackson’s Row, Manchester M2 5ND
One Eight Six
If you’re after both a haircut and a bev this weekend, then this in the venue for you.
A relatively new haunt to the hidden bar scene, One Eight Six is disguised behind an actual, fully-operational barbers shop. The bar doubles up as a music venue, with live acts regularly performing at the cabaret-style venue, which makes it great for dancing on the tables – something that’s actually encouraged by the staff.
One Eight Six is currently accepting bookings for the bank holiday, make sure not to miss out here.
186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
You’ll all be aware of Evelyn’s, one of the Northern Quarter’s most popular eateries, but are you aware of the cocktail bar tucked away beneath it?
The Daisy is located in the basement of the restaurant and serves as a part-co-working space by day, and a private bar by night. During the day, the café and workspace supplies members with coffee from Ozone Coffee Roasters and Rare Tea Company, but in the evening hours, the venue serves up an enticing range of cocktails, wines, beers and live music.
Though it might be worth noting that the venue operates on an exclusive membership basis, which comes with a fee of £100 per year. Prospective members are required to submit their applications to The Daisy’s private Instagram profile.
g18, 44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LA
Nestled below the popular St. Anne’s Square establishment Sandinistas, Blind Tyger is Manchester’s version of the hidden Leeds haunt. The unique speakeasy-style cocktail bar serves up some of the finest tipples in the area, taking inspiration from the 1st Prohibition era of the 19th Century.
The venue itself features all manner of knick-knacks and trinkets to emulate the feel of old-school tavern culture, alongside flocked wallpaper, dark furniture and ornate glassware. As for what’s inside the glasses, expect some contemporary takes on classic cocktails from Juleps to Negronis.
Blind Tyger is currently accepting both walk-ins and bookings.
2 Old Bank St, Manchester M2 7PF
CITY GUIDE: All the best festive markets and events across Manchester this Christmas
‘Tis the season to be in Manchester…
Christmas is nearly here and, luckily for us lot, Manchester is one of the best places to be (outside of Lapland, obviously) throughout the festive period.
There’s going to be a ton of fun and Christmassy things to do over the next couple of months so, just to help you plan and organise your Christmas celebrations accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of some of the must-do events happening across the city.
Here’s what’s on…
Winter Island at Escape to Freight Island
Earlier this month, it was announced that the popular open-air food hall Escape to Freight Island will be transformed into Winter Island, the UK’s largest fully-heated outdoor winter market.
Winter Island will boast a whole array of festivities including a Christmas Tree Forest, Christmas films nights, karaoke and a bonfire night gathering. There will also be an impressive line-up of new festive traders and stalls offering food and drink, including Great North Pie Co., a bratwurst grill, traditional hog roast, a mulled wine and hot cider hut, local chocolatiers and artisanal cheese stalls.
There will also be a huge firework display on the opening night and a whole line-up of live entertainment courtesy of the Untold Orchestra and a number of other local musicians and DJs.
The Winter Island will run from November 5th to December 31st – for more information and to book tickets, visit the Escape to Freight Island website here.
Ramona’s Winter Village
A magical ‘winter village’ experience will be descending upon Ramona and The Firehouse this Christmas, complete with tequila cabins, teepees and open log fires. What more could you ask for?
The whole of Swan Street, which is home to the two adjoining restaurants, will be transformed into the festive winter village, with the existing outside space to be developed to provide more shelter to those wanting to escape the cold Manchester weather.
The plans for the festive village include cosy Colorado-style log cabins, each with its own fire and chimney, and those all-important teepees with open-log fires. It will also welcome pop-up stalls from independent traders in its own scaled-down Christmas market.
Ramona’s winter village will open next month on November 4th and bookings are available now, so head over to the Ramona website to get your reservation secured.
Manchester Christmas Markets
Last year, the annual Manchester Christmas Markets were cancelled as a result of Covid-19 and, let me tell you, it wasn’t very Christmassy.
But this year, the markets are back with a bang – though they’re going to look a little different. It was announced last week that, while the markets will be making a return, the main hub will be moved from Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens as a result of renovation works at the Town Hall.
The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts we’ve all missed so much – though it is worth noting that extra measures will be in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The markets will be open to the public from Friday November 12th through to Wednesday December 22nd.
For the last two years, Manchester’s Heaton Park has been graced with Lightopia, a festival of immersive lights, lanterns and mesmerising installations and, low and behold, it’s coming back for its third event.
The never-before-seen illuminated trail will feature magical and multi-sensory interactive lights, lanterns and installations, illustrating a story of an imaginative and fantasy festive world. There will also be the ‘Fantasy Forest’, an area home to the most extraordinary and mystical animals to uncover.
Other attractions will include the ‘Fantasy Universe’ with a supernova display and bioluminescence plants, ‘Dragon’s Land’ featuring two huge 40m dragons and fabled fairies, ‘Fantasy Bees’, the trademark Manchester’s bee brought to life in a fantasy world, and the ‘Wonders of the World’.
Lightopia will be open to the public from November 18th 2021 until January 3rd 2022. To get your own tickets, visit the Lightopia Festival website here.
Christmas Karaoke Huts at Bar Hütte
Alpine-themed Bar Hütte recently announced the return of its famed karaoke huts, and they’re going to be bigger and better than ever before.
The brand Bar Hütte village will be located at Manchester’s Great Northern, where it will transform the current Great Northern Beach Club site into a ‘magical wonderland inspired by a ski resort in the Alps’.
Visitors will be able to enjoy the familiar festive huts, all of which will be decked out in their usual cosy furnishings, fairy lights, live music sessions, endless drinks and, of course, those all-important karaoke machines. Bar Hütte has also become well known for its iconic ‘Shot-Ski’s’, which features four shots of limoncello served up on an actual ski, so you and your pals can tip back together before butchering another rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You.
Bar Hütte will be landing at Great Northern from Thursday November 4th 2021 through until Sunday January 9th 2022 – get yourself booked in here.
The iconic Winter Wonderland is coming home to Trafford’s indoor venue EventCity to celebrate the 2021 festivities with magical Christmas experiences such as reindeer, elves, fairies and even Father Christmas and his famous grotto.
There will also be a number of child-friendly theatrical performances taking place on the main stage with daily performances ideal for the whole family, including shows like the Ice Princess Show, Christmas Meltdown and the return of Winter Wonderland’s spectacular Christmas Circus.
And it wouldn’t be a Christmas bonanza without an abundance of festive food, would it? From German bratwursts to waffles and crepes, plus lots of Christmassy games stalls to keep the kids happily entertained, there’ll be something for everyone to feast upon. Elsewhere, a German bar will also be serving up fresh Bavarian beers and other festive drinks and adult refreshments.
Located at Event City next door to the Intu Trafford Centre, Winter Wonderland will be running from Saturday December 4th 2021 to Sunday January 2nd 2022. To book your own tickets and for more information about the event, click here.
Van Gogh Alive
While this many not be the most Christmassy of events lined up this winter, it’s certainly a good one and will make for a fantastic day out for you and your family.
Van Gogh Alive will allow guests to experience the artist in a multi-sensory art exhibition that gives a unique glimpse into the life and work of Van Gogh as you travel.
Over 3,000 images from his vast catalogue of work – including iconic works like Starry Night, Sunflowers and lesser-known paintings that were inspired by his love of Japanese woodprints – will explore and showcase different periods of the artists’ somewhat troubled life.
The exhibition, which is the most visited in the whole world, will be at Media City until January 23rd, 2022. For more information and to book your own tickets, visit the Van Gogh Alive website.
The Refuge Christmas Carol
The Refuge is bringing back it’s iconic Christmas Carol, a wonderful line-up of festivities spread across twelve days.
Kickstarting the festivities will be a performance from The Hallé Ancoats Community Choir, who will be joined by a special guest appearance from the first of the season’s Town Criers. There will also be a dog fancy dress competition, a Christmas wreath making workshop, and a line up of Christmas Fairs with traders like Manchester Union Lager and Deadstock General Store.
Guests will also be able to enjoy ‘Christmas in the Dining Room’, where a feast consisting of butter-roasted turkey breast with cranberry and apricot stuffing, goose fat roast potatoes, cranberry-glazed pigs in blankets and an abundance of festive veg will be dished up.
The Refuge’s Christmas Carol will be starting on November 12th and will right up until Christmas – visit their website for bookings and more information.
The Oast House Curious Tipi
It wouldn’t be Christmas in Manchester without the Oast House’s legendary tipi, would it?
Billed as a ‘winter escape in the heart of Spinningfields’, the Curious Tipi proves to be a massive hit each year, with thousands of people descending upon the site to enjoy a steaming mug of mulled wine next to an open fireplace – you know, those proper Christmas vibes.
Throughout the winter, there will be a number of Christmassy events taking place within the cosy tipi, including the iconic Oast House cinema nights, their annual wreath making classes and, of course, plenty of those famous hanging kebabs.
Bongo’s Bingo ‘A Tropical Christmas’
Fancy a game of Christmas bingo that isn’t with your nan at your local Mecca Bingo? Well, Bongo’s has you covered.
Everyone’s favourite game of bingo will be throwing a massive Christmas bonanza in the run-up to the big day, where there will be festive sing-alongs, conga lines, dance-offs, ‘cash cash money’ and tons of quirky prizes to be won.
Guests are also required to don their best (and ugliest) Hawaiian shirt to make the occasion extra tropical – because Christmas jumpers were so last year.
‘A Tropical Christmas’ will be taking place at the Albert Hall on December 19th, December 20th, December 21st, December 22nd, December 23rd, December 28th, and December 29th. Get your tickets here.
CITY GUIDE: The best places to enjoy a gin & tonic in Manchester
The perfect excuse to indulge in a couple of gins tonight…
It’s International Gin & Tonic Day which calls for one thing and one thing only; a definitive round up of the best spots to enjoy a G&T here in Manchester.
Now, it’s no secret that here in Manchester we’re spoiled for choice on where to enjoy a tipple or two. And, if gin is your tipple of choice, you certainly won’t be left wandering the streets aimlessly in search of that perfect drink.
So, without any further ado, here’s our favourite Mancunian spots to enjoy a gin & tonic…
Three Little Words
Because of course Manchester Gin’s very own distillery and bar was going to make the ultimate G&T list. The venue, located down Watson Street, features distillery on site which means every last drop of Manchester Gin is made there and then on site.
The Spirit of Manchester Distillery also also gives guests the opportunity to make their very own gin, as well as learn the ins-and-outs of distilling.
On the actual drinking side of things, their bar boasts every variety Manchester Gin has to offer, including their new Oyster Gin, as well as a whole array of other gins from across the U.K and beyond.
Three Little Words, 2-13 Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP
Found at the bottom of Deansgate, Atlas Bar is definitely one of the better known gin bars in the city. Boasting a massive collection of 560 gins – both local and global – guests are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting their tipple.
Atlas Bar also features a heated outdoor terrace, perfect for both summer evenings and those chillier winter nights.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
The Old Bell Inn
A little bit further afield in the village of Delph, Oldham, stands The Old Bell Inn, which is an actual world record holder thanks to its vast collection of gin – all 1,100 of them.
You can’t compete with that, can you?
And, as well as it’s extensive gin offering, The Old Bell Inn is also well loved for its classic ‘countryside pub’ vibes and dazzling views of the Saddleworth Moor – the perfect place to sit back and relax with an ice cold G&T, if you ask me.
The Old Bell Inn, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
Yes, I’m well aware that I’ve included a taproom on this list but hear me out; the iconic Salfordian brewers have recently dabbled in the world of distillery by launching their very own gin brand, Sis4ers Distillery.
Their distillery has produced a number of different botanical blends with tasty flavours such as strawberry, lime and thyme, espresso and passionfruit.
Seven Bro7hers, 39 Blossom Street, Ancoats, M4 5AF | Lockside Lane, Salford, M5 4YP
Having opened just last week, the Northern Quarter’s newest tiki bar Lono Cove features two floors of ‘contemporary’ tiki fun, including treasure chest cocktails and an abundance of greenery… Oh, and plenty of gin.
While tiki bars are usually associated with rum (there’s plenty of that, too), Lono Cove boasts an impressive selection of gins that can be enjoyed with tonic or in their many cocktails.
Lono Cove, 14 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1DH
For some reason, G&Ts taste better in a cosy pub setting, so of course The Blackfriar had to make the list.
The iconic Salford boozer recently reopened after eighteen years of no action and a massive transformation, and it is now the place to enjoy some gourmet pub grub and a couple of gins, either with tonic or in the form of a tasty cocktail.
The Blackfriar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB
CITY GUIDE: The cosiest pubs in Manchester to enjoy an autumn pint
It’s officially cosy pub season and we couldn’t be happier about it
Summer has officially departed and, while we may be sad to wave goodbye to our beloved beer gardens for another six months, we’re undeniably very excited to welcome back those log fires and warming Sunday roasts.
Yep, Autumn is here and that means Manchester’s cosiest pubs are back open for business, offering all those lovely Autumnal treats such as mulled wine, warming fire places and those iconic cosy corners.
And luckily for you lot, the city is teeming with wonderful pub offerings to keep you occupied throughout the colder months.
So without any further ado, here’s some of our favourite spots…
This historic boozer has recently reopened after eighteen long years out of action following a massive investment by property giants Salboy, who have transformed the building back into the cosy pub it once was, with a fine dining section and green oasis through the back.
But round the front, guests can settle down in front of a roaring fireplace and indulge in all those comforting pub grub classics like fish and chips and pie and mash alongside a lovely pint of Guinness. It doesn’t get much more autumnal than that, does it?
The Blackfriar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB.
Famous for it’s enormous front-facing beer garden in the summer (and for being the first stop in the famed Didsbury Dozen pub crawl, of course), The Didsbury is also well loved for it’s snug interior throughout the autumn and winter months.
Here, you’ll be able to sit back and relax with a beverage directly next to a crackling fireplace built within a lovely exposed brick wall – dogs are welcome too, incase you needed any more convincing.
The Didsbury, 852 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 2SG
The Didsbury Website
Located at the heart of the old Potato Wharf in Castlefield, The Oxnoble is one of the city’s most historic pubs, having being built all the way back in 1804.
And you know what they say about old and historic pubs; they make for the best winter boozers. The pub’s low ceilings and creaky floorboards give it a very comforting nostalgic feel, with its old-timely fireplace pairing perfectly with the many beers and bitters on offer behind the bar.
71 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ
The Oxnoble Website
The Circus Tavern
The ‘smallest bar in Europe’ was always going to make the cosy pubs list, wasn’t it? Admittedly, many may consider The Circus Tavern to be more on the claustrophobic side than the cosy side but still, it’s an undeniable gem for those colder months.
While there isn’t a roaring fireplace to snuggle down next to (that’d be a major health hazard in such a small place, don’t you think?), there is plenty of those old-worldly pub vibes knocking about. Plus, famed footballer George Best did frequent the pub back in the day, if that helps.
The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
The Marble Arch
A short walk away from the Northern Quarter down Rochdale Road, The Marble Arch is undisputedly one of Manchester’s most historic and iconic boozers, having stood the test of time since 1888.
Providing those ‘proper pub’ vibes among a sea of trendy craft beer bars, The Marble Arch brews its own beer and is a definite must-visit when looking for some solace from Manchester’s icy wind and rain.
The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, M4 4HY
The Marble Arch Website
Sam’s Chop House
A pub once frequented by artist LS Lowry (there’s a massive statue of him propped up at the bar if you don’t believe me), Sam’s Chop House is as cosy and old-worldly as a pub can get.
Guests have to take a rickety and narrow winding staircase down to find the pub and fully functioning gourmet restaurant nestled underground, alongside an extensive drinks menu (the Guinness is really good here, too).
Sam’s Chop House, Back Pool Fold, Manchester M2 1HN
0161 834 3210
The Briton’s Protection
It doesn’t get much cosier than this; The Briton’s Protection is one of Manchester’s oldest pubs (are you noticing a pattern here?) and specialises in possibly the most wintery drink there is: whisky.
The pub can showcase up to 300 whiskies at any given time and features those classic old pub stools and circular tables crammed into a warm corner. Picture that on a cold Friday night after work… You can’t beat it.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE
0161 236 5895
Peveril of the Peak
Of course Peveril of the Peak was going to crop up at some point – it is one of the most recognisable pubs in the whole of Manchester, after all (just look at that two-toned yellow and green brick exterior).
But on the inside, the Pev provides a seriously good atmosphere, the kind only achieved by the most traditional of boozers. Inside, guests can sit on original wooden benches among stained glass window, etched mirrors and brass bells. Classic.
The Peveril of the Peak, 127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ
The Peveril of the Peak Facebook
The City Arms
The historic City Arms, located smack in the middle of Manchester’s city centre, has been a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide for years and boasts all those lovely old pub features, including those built-in Chesterfield sofas and circular tables just begging for a packet of crisps to be opened and spread out upon them.
As is the case with this style of old-age pub, The City Arms really comes to life in the colder months and provides a comforting and cosy abode for Mancunians escaping the rain.
The City Arms, 46-48 Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ
0161 236 4610
Ah, the Bayhorse Tavern, a haunt well known and loved by all those city-centre dwellers. While it may not be an ideal layout for those hot summer days (yeah, all three of them), it is the perfect spot to shelter from the rain.
The Bayhorse has a cracking selection of beer and also do a banging roast on a Sunday – the ideal place for the whole of autumn and winter, then.
Bayhorse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA