Ever since Janice Smith asked for a Rum & Coke in the local Con Club in Hull in 1976 us Brits have loved a cocktail.
We love them so much that any night out without a cocktail is like a visit to the kebab shop without a samosa while you wait – not worth it. Here’s our pick of the best Manchester has to offer:
Science & Industry
Hidden upstairs above the brilliant rib joint Cane & Grain, you might not even know that Science & Industry exists or that they do quite possibly the best cocktails in the whole wide city. They take their cocktails and science very seriously in here and they have more gadgets and machines knocking about than NASA did when they sparked Neil Armstrong to the moon. Reading their menu is like reading some sort of cryptic crossword clue book, with loads of mental words like ‘tincture’ and ‘saline’ but if you just sit back and trust the expertise on show – you’re going to love it.
What to try: You Feta Believe It – Feta & Tomato Pisco Waqar, Lemon Juice, Whites, Red Grape Shrub, Syrup
A big favourite in the Finest office, Henry C in Chorlton have been mixing and pouring and shaking some of the city’s best and most inventive cocktails for years now – and if you’ve never been – sort it out. They pride themselves on simple cocktails with a twist, with most concoctions coming in at around 4 or less main ingredients. They make a ton of stuff in-house too including many infused spirits (Cacao infused Campari anyone?) which are all blended together by some proper real pros. Their Bloody Mary is a thing of beauty for a hangover too!
What to try: The Road to Jalisco – El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Aperol, Yellow Chartreuse, Lemon, Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal Mist
Henry C, 107 Manchester Road, Chorlton, M21 9GA
One of the NQ’s best cocktail bars – The Daisy is certainly a hidden gem, being neatly tucked away in the basement of Evelyn’s on Tib Street. The best things about the French-inspired cocktail menu here isn’t just expertly constructed Martinis – no, it’s the Absinthe – a drink with a fearsome reputation that really sets The Daisy apart from the rest. They’re campaigning for the resurgence of this most wonderful of spirits and as such you’ll find a couple of Absinthe cocktails alongside three of the most impressive brands available – should you want to try it the old fashioned way. Whichever you choose you’ll be chasing the green fairy in no time!
What to try: Just Like Clockwork – Jade 1901 Absinthe, almond, milk, orange water
The Daisy, G18, 44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LA
Since receiving accolades and endless praise for their previous cocktail menu based on Japanese idioms, the team over at Cottonopolis haven’t rested on their laurels. Instead they’ve pulled up their bootstraps and gone about working hard on their next menu – this time based on the Principles of Japanese Aesthetics. This aesthetics are a loose set of principles that highlight a multitude of aspects that allude to BEAUTY in Japanese culture and the cocktails aim to celebrate those little moments we have in our lives where we can truly enjoy something. It must be said – they’ve knocked it out of the park in terms of flavours and innovation here – you should definitely give some of these a try!
What to try: Yugen: Rum, Banana & Molasses – Plantation Pineapple & OFTD Rum, Fair cacao liqueur, Roasted Banana, Fennel Pollen & Molasses
The Liars Club
You’ve got your fair share of Tiki bars to choose from in Manchester, well – you used to anyway. Most have them have gone the way of a small Polynesian island during a tsunami and disappeared almost entirely, but still going strong are The Liars Club, in no small part due to their fantastic range of rum and imaginative cocktails. Anyone who goes in here and orders a lager is missing out on some of the city’s best rum-based bevvies including possibly the city’s best Zombie as well as some seriously strong (and crazy) sharers.
What to try: Double Shot Coconut Latte – Blackwell’s rum, creme de cacao, coconut milk and cream, coffee
The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge St, Manchester M3 2PB
Since opening just over a year ago Bunny Jackson’s on First Street have impressed with their range of excellent cocktails – most of which manage to take American Rye Whiskey and make it taste half-decent. As if the range of cocktails wasn’t enough, they also offer £5 Old Fashioned on Friday’s as well as a 4-hour Happy Hour every single day (between 9pm and 11pm). It must be said that the staff here are always friendly and helpful and will be willing to make pretty much anything you ask for, they can bash together anything and it always tastes mint.
What to try: Southern Smash – Mellow Corn Whiskey, Mint, Lemon, Benedictine & Vanilla Sugar
Bunny Jacksons, 1 Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester M15 4RA
Behind Closed Doors
It’s a Friday night, 2am and it’s fair to say that you’ve had a few too many shandies. What do you do? Well, don’t bother heading to the nearest kebab shop and falling asleep watching Tron while chomping on a donner, head on over to Behind Closed Doors on Oldham Street because surprisingly for a late-night venue – their cocktails are fantastic. They all come with slightly weird, risqué names – fitting in with the sleazy aesthetic of the venue, but once you’ve plucked up the courage to tell the bartender that you want a ‘Penis Colada’ – you’re going to be treated to some amazing flavours served up by some of the best mixologists in town.
What to try: 50 Shades Of Earl Grey – An unrestrained tea pot of Portobello Road Gin, Earl Grey Tea, lemon, honey and lavender.
Behind Closed Doors, 91-95 Oldham Street, M4 1LW
Wolf At The Door
They’ve only been open a few weeks but Wolf At The Door have managed to impress everyone not just with their food offering but also with their innovative and brash cocktail menu – one that gives all other cocktail bars a run for their money in almost every area. Working closely with the kitchen, the team at Wolf.. have created a new cocktail menu – APERTURE – that aims to act as a set of frameworks where ingredients will change with the seasons, ensuring that the drinks are always evolving. I must say that when I went to try the new menu I was blown away – not only are they tasty (and strong) but they’re highly innovative.
What to try: Scorched – Johnnie Walker Black Label, Smoked Juniper, Whey, Burnt Agave
With all the glitz and glamour of Spinningfields, it could be easy to rest on your laurels when it comes to cocktails – throw a bit of prosecco in with some Chambord, add a sparkler, put it on a midget’s head and the Saturday night crew will go crazy for it right? Well, Tattu have always taken a different tact with their cocktails and spend just as much time coming up with them as they do their brilliant Chinese dishes. That’s why you’ll find some truly excellent creations, many coming with a nice little Asian twist (think Sake, cherry blossom & lemongrass). Sure, some of them have the obligatory bells and whistles to impress the Spinningfields’s Instagrammers but behind that – there’s some really impressive drinks.
What to try: Smokin’ Aces – A smoking mix of Bourbon, Chocolate and Orange.
I’m pretty sure every single person above the age of 18 has been in an Alchemist and bought a cocktail that comes laden with dry ice, a KitKat Chunky sticking out of it and a live Borrower on the side who will happily spoon the concoction into your mouth while you chat. It’s fair to say that some of the cocktails on the Alchemist menu are a bit mental, but there’s also plenty of absolute winners too. With such a big menu available there’s something for everyone and they’re usually all fantastic. I once had a Cola Bottle cocktail thing in here that was clear, came in an old Coke bottle and was lethal. I think about it all the time. They don’t do it any more though – perhaps if anyone from the Alchemist is reading this – pop it back on the menu? For me?
What to try: Butter Beer – Sailor Jerry, Licor 43, salted vanilla syrup. Gold beer soda.
Updated on 12th September 2019