I thought I'd do a round-up of the best places to enjoy the legendary Victorian tipple around the city and further afield.
Just make sure you don’t drink too much, get all emotional and start crying while watching A Bug’s Life and wondering what went wrong in that relationship you were in 6 years ago.
Well known throughout Manchester firstly for its great beer garden, but more importantly for its huge selection of gin. You can expect to find over 300 bottles of the stuff in here, and with such a vast amount to choose from; it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision. Especially if you are my girlfriend. So the forever helpful people at Atlas do everything they can to help you locate exactly what you want, including tablets at the bar with access to the gin-ternet (yes!) as well as weekly specials and staff that know more about gin than Brian Harvey does about Tuna-mayo jacket potatoes.
Atlas, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
The Bay Horse Tavern
It’s a well-known fact that gin has been around for a bloody long time – mostly due to the fact that it’s dead easy to make. Just get a big old manky bath tub, fill it with vodka, pop some juniper berries in there, throw in some random shite you find at the bottom of your garden, leave it for a bit and voila! Gin is yours. Well, that’s what The Bay Horse Tavern in the NQ have done with Portobello Road Gin – they’ve made their own with hay and bay leaves in it and you can only get it here. It’s just one of the bottles on their very impressive list – they’ve got pretty much every gin and tonic combo you can dream of.
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
The enduring appeal of a Gin & Tonic on a hot summer’s day is probably why it’s so bloody popular in Spain – a place where people have to take a nap when the sun is high in the sky so they don’t get too tired, burnt or die. After a siesta though it’s fair game for tucking into a lovely goblet of gin, tonic, ice and a massive handful of foliage and La Bandera is the perfect place for that authentic Spanish Gin & Tonic. Their gin range is mightily impressive, with a few Spanish numbers that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Grab a drink, order some tapas and make like you’re in Madrid on your jollies.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
The Old Bell Inn
As an Oldham lad I used to drive past this place loads as a kid on my way to Marsden to see family. I have a feeling I would struggle to drive past without stopping nowadays due to the fact that it is home to over 600 types of gin and they’re all ready and available for you to shove down your filthy mouth. In fact, this place holds the Guinness World Record for largest number of gins commercially available – I’m not sure if they got to meet Kris Akabusi or Norris McWhirter though – I’d be disappointed if not. To help you choose they have monthly suggestions as well as G&T Taster Boards so you can try something you perhaps haven’t thought of before. The village of Delph is really bloody nice too.
The Old Bell Inn, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
As well as hosting a packed calendar of live music and events, Gorilla features an upstairs Gin Parlour where you can focus your inner Audrey Roberts and get sloshed on a great selection of the strong stuff. They claim to be “stocked with the best gins from around the world” with a gin cocktail list to reflect this diversity. I personally recommend the Negroni (Gin with sweet vermouth and Campari), but they also have a selection of Gin Martinis, as well as the classic G&T’s. To help you along you can also expect a Gin of the Day Cocktail for £5 – which might just be easier for everyone if you go for that.
Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
There’s a few Botanist’s knocking around the area nowadays so you’re never too far away from a massive selection of drinks and craft ales, as well as their Salt and Pepper Onion Petals which are like heaven on a plate. They take pride in their Gin selection and it’s clear to see why – they have an absolute bloody load of it, with a top selection of tonics to go with them. If a G & T isn’t your bag then they also have a load of gin cocktails to choose from including their brilliant Rhubarb and Gin Old Fashioned
78 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FW
Orange Building, MediaCityUK, Salford M50 2HE
You don’t need to be Arthur Fowler to enjoy heading down to Allotment in the NQ, although you may end up having a face like Pauline Fowler after tasting some of their many, many gins and gin-based cocktails. Not to say that they are bad – exactly the opposite – but gin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea really, and to be fair – without the mixers and berries and foliage – gin tastes bloody horrible. There’s a reason ‘Gin Face’ was invented. Anyway, back to topic – Allotment has loads of gin cocktails as well as Gin Tasting events starting from £10 per person. Definitely only for gin-nerds.
Allotment, 24 Dale St, Manchester M1 1FY
I wouldn’t really put Italians and Gin together, but Don Giovanni have gone against the grain with a dedicated gin menu which is pretty spectacular alongside a big hearty Carbonara or a huge plate of deli meats and bread. In fact, gin manages to go well with pretty much everything, which I think must be part of its enduring appeal. The most Italian G&T you’ll probably ever have, the Italiano is made with Poli Marconi 46 – a pretty spectacular gin from up near Venice that I wholeheartedly recommend getting down your neck.
Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
Head on down to Barton Arcade on a manky, rainy day and you can be whisked away to the Spanish region of Catalunya – and although I’m only talking figuratively and not physically – Lunya Deli and Restaurant really can make you feel like you’re in Spain with their massive selection of beers, wines, cheese, meats and tapas. On top of all of this, they also have one of the biggest selections of Spanish gins outside of Spain itself. I didn’t even think there were Spanish gins to be honest – but Lunya proved me wrong with around 25 different gins to choose from. Pair a lovely double Sikkim Fraise Gin (Madrid & Barcelona, blueberries and blackberries) with some Iberico meat and Manchego cheese and you’re in heaven.
Lunya, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BB
Manchester Three Rivers Gin
If the Gin Festival is not enough for you, and you have drunk all of the options available in both Atlas and The Old Bell, but you’re still craving more – then Three Rivers may have the answer for you. The lovely people behind this locally produced gin offer an extensive Gin Experience through their distillery where you can learn every single thing you need to know about creating this infamous drink. You get shown around, get free drinks, as well as getting the chance to create your own, unique bottle of gin so you can show off to your friends when you get home. It’s £95 per person, so you’ll have to be an absolute gin mental case to want to do it – but I can’t imagine you would regret it. Or you could buy it as a present for someone you need to say sorry to; because you drank too much gin and vomited on their cat. Up to you.
Manchester Three Rivers Gin, 21 Red Bank Parade, Manchester M4 4HF
This Friday night after-work drinks staple offers a rather impressive range of gins in which you can get drunk on and tell your boss that she’s a cow whose breath stinks of onions. They stock local products such as Manchester Gin (£3.5), Three Rivers Gin (£4) as well as their own Cottonopolis Gin (£4), which I presume they haven’t concocted themselves in a bathtub in the cellar. (In fact it’s a collaboration with Londoners Portobello Road Gin).
Cottonopolis, 16 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AE