The free Metroshuttle bus is not only useful for getting around the city without using your legs, it's also perfect for exploring Manchester's bars and pubs.
Although it’s actually not called the Metroshuttle anymore – it’s actually now called the ‘free bus’. Good one. I’ve decided to use the longer shuttle bus line – line number 2 – mostly because the smaller one isn’t very interesting for boozing.
The shuttle bus starts and finishes at Piccadilly train station so that’s your first port of call…
The Piccadilly Tap
Perfect for a swift pint of amber if you miss your train home, Piccadilly Tap is a great place to start on the crawl. It’s packed to the rafters with all kinds of beers, ales and ciders with 20 kegs, 7 casks and a huge selection of trendy looking bottles and cans. Sit outside on one of the little tables and watch people run past because they’re going to miss their train (and laugh).
The Piccadilly Tap, Gateway House, Station Approach, Manchester M1 2GH
From Piccadilly station the bus hurls down Fairfield Street and onto Whitworth Street towards Sackville Gardens.
The next stop is right outside the old UMIST building and directly opposite Sackville Gardens. Resist the urge to sit in the park with a couple of tins of K Cider and head to the nearest bar which is Tribeca. Now it’s been a while since I’ve been in here but when I used to go in it was always a pretty decent bar with a cracking cocktail selection. It’s pretty cheap too which is always a plus.
Tribeca, 50 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WF
0161 236 8300
The bus continues down Whitworth Street heading in the direction of Oxford Road. The next stop is outside India House – famed as the place where the Gallagher brothers used to practise before hitting the big time.
Pop off outside India House and just a short walk is The Refuge, a hugely impressive bar and restaurant that is an absolute pleasure to eat and drink in at all times. You’ll certainly be bowled over with their stunning Winter Garden, so grab yourself a nice big Gin & Tonic and have a chill in some proper nice surroundings. If you’re a bit peckish – grab a couple of their wonderful small plates too.
The Refuge, Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
I mean you could easily walk to the next stop in the time it takes to wait for the next bus but that wouldn’t be as fun (and you wouldn’t get to meet a lovely new bus driver).
Right outside the next stop is the brilliant Dog Bowl and a chance for you to get a bit of bowling action under your belt should you feel the need. If not, don’t despair, because they also have a rather excellent selection of cocktails on their menu some of which are strangely Mexican themed. I’m not entirely sure why but who cares when you’re chugging down a couple of Blood Orange Lagerita?
Dog Bowl, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
Again you could probably walk this distance, in fact you could probably do it in 5 really large strides so bin off the bus if you can’t be bothered waiting.
Everyone’s favourite dive bar – you’re always guaranteed a bloody good time in Bunny Jacksons and so it is with a smile on my face that I include it in this pub crawl. Bunny’s has everything you could ever want from a drinking hole – stunningly attractive staff, chicken wings for 10p, free pool, around 100 bourbons, cocktails, beers, the best chicken tenders in town, attractive staff, live music and attractive staff. You’ll probably see me in here on your crawl – so buy me a bevvie.
Bunny Jacksons, 1 Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester M15 4RA
Just a short little trip now to Deansgate station. Best to ignore most of Deansgate Locks unless you want a Blue WKD wrapped around your head by a bloke in a v-neck t-shirt and bad jeans.
A bar that proudly offers over 350 different kinds of gin, Atlas Bar is certainly one of the most interesting places to drink in Manchester. They have so many different kinds that they’ve had to rope in the help of a couple of iPads on the bar, so that punters can flick through the selection and read all about each one instead of annoying the staff every 2 minutes. Find a gin that’s been made out of unicorn tears, add some tonic and sit in the lovely beer garden and enjoy.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
The bus now takes a right onto Deansgate…
A rather impressive Spanish joint, Evuna does some excellent tapas dishes that’ll take you all the way back to that holiday you had to Madrid that time. We’re not on a tapas trail though (that’s actually a good idea) we’re on a booze trail and luckily for you (and everyone) Evuna have a fantastic selection of Spanish wines on offer. They also do some mega sangria too including a Cava Sangria which will have you feeling light headed and tipsy in no time.
Evuna Deansgate, 277-279 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW
A little shifty down Deansgate and the next stop is right outside the imposing John Rylands Library. If you’ve got a bit of time (and it’s open) have a look around – it really is even more beautiful inside. For a bevvie though you’ll have to head next door to Australasia where you can get yourself a nice juicy cocktail or some fizz and chat to some of Manchester’s most beautiful people. Head on down the back to Sunset if it’s sunny.
Australasia, 1 The Avenue, Manchester M3 3AP
Just a short distance on the bus for the next stop – walk it if you want – it’s right outside that music shop with the piano outside.
Just round the back of Deansgate you’ll find Crazy Pedro’s – a brilliant den of pizza, mezcal and good times. I’m in here pretty much ALL the time which isn’t particularly good for my waistline but it’s certainly done wonders for both my street cred and my love life. Bonding with people over Hooch and a couple of slices of pizza is what life is all about and it doesn’t get much better than in Ped’s.
Crazy Pedro’s, 55-57 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BQ
There’s actually quite a few places at this next stop including a Wetherspoons, a Slug & Lettuce and a Botanist. There’s also the brilliant KAI as well as Roxy Ballroom where you can play a load of games while getting trashed. I’m going to suggest that you head over the road though and into Lunya, another Spanish place that’s also a cracking little bar. The Spanish are famed for their love of smashing gin and tonics whenever they get a spare few minutes so do as they do and get involved.
Lunya, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BB
The bus continues down Deansgate now and down towards the Cathedral. There’s a stop right outside and entrance to…
Walk into the door, up some steps and you’ll be in the rather swanky Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar & Brasserie, a safe haven from all of the shopping and excessive spending of money that greets you when you enter any form of department store. The food here is dead good, but so is the booze – with a massive list of classic cocktails on offer but done really, really well. They also have a huge selection of wines if you want to be classy AF.
Harvey Nichols, 21 New Cathedral Street, Manchester M1 1AD
You’re going to be on the bus for a short while now as it navigates the weird road system near the Cathedral and takes you right round onto Victoria Station approach.
There’s not much to see or do around Victoria Station it’s true. Unless you want to eat a Greggs while waiting for a train to Rochdale you’re pretty much out of luck when it comes to entertainment. There is an oasis of food and drink in the form of Mamucium though, the lovely bar and restaurant located within the brand new Hotel Indigo slap-bang opposite the train station. They have a list of cocktails that are inspired by all things Manchester – so there’s a load of honey, Vimto and spice knocking about.
Mamucium, 6 Todd St, Manchester M3 1WU
A short trip now to everyone’s favourite weekend piss-up spot – The Printworks.
It’s quite hard coming up with somewhere decent to have a drink in The Printworks to be fair. The Hard Rock Cafe is pretty good – especially when they have their Happy Hour on and there’s also Waxy O Connors which is decent for a swift Guinness in one of their little cubby holes. The brand new Blank Canvas is certainly a good idea too, where the idea is that the whole menu and even the decor of the place changes with the seasons – hence the name ‘Blank Canvas’ – geddit?
Blank Canvas, 1 Corporation St, Manchester M4 2BS
The bus now takes you up to Shudehill – doing a little lap of the bus station. Get yourself off and head on over to the edge of the NQ…
There’s two real choices for you now. You can go into the brilliant old bloke’s boozer The Hare & Hounds for a swift House Vodka and Coke while watching a set of fellas sing Free and Easy in the back room or you can nip into Trof for something a little trendier and with more beanie hats. Trof is probably the best choice here – it’s always great in there and the staff are bloody lovely. Not that the staff in the Hare & Hounds aren’t lovely – but I know someone at Trof and so they’re a little bit lovelier than most.
Trof, 8 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
The bus now takes a swing around to High Street and if I’m being honest it’s not even worth waiting for it. The next place is around 8 steps away from Trof.
This end of the NQ is quite a difficult one – it’s not somewhere I’d usually find myself on an evening, with bars which aren’t at all bad – they’re just a little uninspired – catering mostly for the weekend crowd. I suggest you take about 6 more steps then and head down Thomas Street a bit…
The Bay Horse Tavern
The quintessential marriage of old bloke boozer and stylish NQ bar, The Bay Horse is probably my favourite boozer at the moment and somewhere I probably go to on average once a day. That of course means that I pop in here sometimes 2 or 3 times a day – and even though the staff probably think of me as an annoying little slug by now – they don’t show it. The booze selection in here is always top notch – and I hear they have over 100 gins in here now – perfect for a huge frosty goblet of Queen Victoria’s favourite.
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
Back to the bus stop and the shuttle will take you round down Church Street and right outside one of the city’s best boozers…
A walk past The Unicorn any time after 8pm and you’ll find steamed up windows, people laughing their heads off and someone’s mam singing Gloria Gaynor on the karaoke – all washed down with a few commercial fizzy lagers and 20 Benson & Hedges in the little beer garden out back. It’s bloody brilliant in here and it’s one of the city’s last remaining ‘proper’ pubs. Get yourself in there, grab a cheap bevvie and get chatting to some of the characters.
The Unicorn, 26 Church St, Manchester M4 1PN
0161 834 8854
You’re getting to the end now. Last stop saloon this next one. If you’ve been doing it properly you’ll most likely be hammered by now – but keep going – you can do this.
Stopping off on Dale Street right outside Cooper Hall you might think that I would suggest popping in there for your final drink – but you’d be wrong. Instead just head down that little alley towards Stevenson Square and get yourself into Soup Kitchen, a great place for a few drinks and an even better place to end the night. There’s always some form of music event going on in here, either upstairs or in the basement and so you can spend the rest of your night in here, sipping rum & cokes and dancing weirdly to what sounds like a couple of robots going at it.
Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear St, Manchester M1 1DF
Well done on completing the crawl – now go to Burger King, get a Whopper and some Chilli Cheese Bites and go home. x x x