Hidden above an estate agents and a laundrette on a busy road, it's easy peasy to miss one of the best pubs in Manchester.
The big question though is… is it even actually a pub?
When you compare it to the monolithic Robin Hood directly across the road, the two couldn’t be any more different. A classic ‘proper’ boozer, The Robin Hood is the kind of place you’d expect to be sold a load of pirated DVD’s between a couple of pints of fizzy lager while an old bloke falls asleep into a pile of peanuts in the corner.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. In fact, I bloody love nipping to the Robin Hood for a swift one on a Saturday afternoon on my way to Stretford Mall for a Gregg’s pasty, but it’s certainly miles apart from The Stretford Sip Club.
What is it then? Is it a wine bar? A speakeasy? A bistro? Some poor sod’s front room? Well, it’s all of those things and certainly somewhere well worth the trip to sunny Stretford for.
From outside, as I said, you might be more inclined to see Lord Lucan riding Shergar than the entrance to The Sip Club, jammed right at the end of a rather sorry looking strip of shops. Open the door however and you’ll be instantly whisked up the stairs into drinks heaven.
It must be said; The Stretford Sip Club looks an awful lot like you’re imposing in someone’s front room. You half expect Nanna to come around the corner any minute and start complaining about her bunions and slagging off Maureen from down the road.
The one thing about living rooms – they’re bloody cosy – so you immediately feel relaxed and chilled – ready to see what they’ve got in store. Of course you’re looking at the booze and so first of all I should tell you that there’s always a great selection of cask ales and ciders in here – as well as plenty of wines and spirits on the go.
They have a fantastic selection of gin (should that be your thing), as well as all the bells and whistles you’d expect in any poncy cocktail bar in Didsbury or Chorlton. Although it looks like someone’s house – and most probably right until recently it probably was – it’s most certainly is a bar.
As well as the booze and comfy seats there also seems to be a pretty packed calendar of happenings going on including Movie Nights, Street Food Takeovers, and something that instantly perked my interest – A CHEESE QUIZ.
No, it isn’t a quiz about cheese (although that would be equally as brilliant) but is in fact a monthly quiz with the prize being a shit load of actual cheese. Cheese for a prize? I can just imagine how competitive people get with this one.
The Sip Club pride themselves on benefitting the local community, first by using only local goods and suppliers where possible, and secondly by providing a space for local people to meet.
Whether that’s whilst simply having a bevvie or it’s a community meeting, event or perhaps just somewhere where a young lad from down the road can show off his guitar and singing skills – The Sip Club is there.
It’s rather hard not to enjoy yourself in The Stretford Sip Club, as there’s always someone up for a chat, there’s always something going on and there’s always something good to drink.
Unfortunately, this article completely destroys any semblance of this place remaining a ‘hidden gem’ but ah well – things can’t stay a secret forever. Just ask Harvey Weinstein.
The Stretford Sip Club, 164A Barton Road, Stretford, Manchester M32 8DP