You may know the 13 coolest or the 13 cheapest spots to knock one back in Manchester, but here at Finest, we thought we would add a little bit of spice to our guides and point you in the direction of some of the weirdest yet wonderful places to have a pint in Manchester.
Here’s the rundown…
You may not know what lies beneath it but you’ll have definitely walked past this oddball before. Perched in plain sight on the Oxford Road corridor is The Temple – a Victorian ex-public toilet that has now become a drinking den for Mancs all over. Some may call it quirky, others may dub it a total dive but we reckon there’s a charm to the dark underground atmosphere. Coupled with a killer selection of global beers and a jukebox blasting Manchester bands all through the night – this little spot has rightfully earned its place on our list.
The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JW
Brick wall interiors and a trendy vibe – the first rule of The Washhouse is that you don’t talk about The Washhouse. Providing the goods for all your cocktail needs from their Strawberry Milk Punch featuring Sipsmith Vodka, Belsazar Rosé Vermouth & Citrus or their own twist on a Pornstar Martini with Black Lime rum, Cinnamon Cachaca, Passionfruit & Pineapple – you’ll definitely not have had a drink in a place like this before. Serving up some serious speakeasy vibes with low lighting, leather booths and, you guessed it, washing machines – this is definitely worth dropping in and giving it a spin.
Washhouse, 19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF
Stumble down to NQ64 for a night of Space Invaders, Pac-man and Super Mario Bros paired perfectly with game-themed cocktails and craft beers as you make this neon-splattered drinking den your new home. Whether you’re into retro arcades or classic consoles are more your bag, NQ64 literally has something for everyone. Sporting the best from Beavertown, Shindigger and Hawkes alongside a Street Fighter-themed cocktail that you can’t find anywhere else – we can all definitely agree that this one is up there with the weirdest places to settle down for a pint in Manchester.
NQ64, 9 Short St, Manchester M4 1AA
NQ64, 23 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
Following on from the low-lit theme we seem to have going on here is this intimate and private spot full of heaps of local history, comfort food galore and a renowned jukebox. Secluded, dark and a clear star-player in this list, Corbieres Wine Cavern offers up a great selection of Salford ales along with some equality quality scran. After confidently standing the test of time, remaining a Manchester favourite for all these years since it opened its doors in 1978, see for yourself the dark hideaway hidden on Half Moon Street.
Corbieres Wine Cavern, Alliance House, 2 Half Moon St, Manchester M2 7PB
Behind Closed Doors
Head to this Oldham Street favourite to feast your sights on some vintage erotica, bless your ears with some boogie anthems and enjoy a night speaking to the infamous Behind Closed Doors hotlines. Sticking with the speakeasy theme we’ve got going on, BCD has nothing but its neon pink initials illuminated on top of a tiny hole in the wall door. Enter the portal for a night of debauchery and, if you have a spin on the hotlines, remember to dial naught for the bar and, if you dare, naughtier for fellow guests…
Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW
The Circus Tavern
Only a 3-minute walk from Manchester Art Gallery, you may know the Circus Tavern as one of the smallest pubs in Manchester, with the smallest bar in Europe. Splattered with “The smallest bar in Europe, the biggest welcome in the world!” this should definitely be high up on your Manchester pint pitch-up bucket list. A bit older than Corbieres, this joint was built way back around 1790 – making it one of the oldest pubs in Manchester too. With an interior that looks like something straight out of the 70s, soak in the history at this weird little spot on Portland Street.
Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
With live entertainment on the daily, it’s no wonder that this joint is so commonly dubbed the Northern Quarter’s friendliest and liveliest pub. Whether you happen upon a karaoke night or some live music from a local Mancunian artist – you’ll be sure to have a wholesome little time in this pub. Serving up some traditional ales with a side of chatter, join The Millstone family and you may even find it becoming your new local! Bonus tip: check out their Facebook page for some cracking memes.
The Millstone, 67 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1LQ
Not your typical Northern Quarter gastro, this little gem is tucked away nicely in the Arndale centre. Many don’t even know it’s there, but for all of those who are aware of its presence – this spot is forever buzzing. Wedged between a milkshake shack and a fruit and veg shop, this bar made up of two market stalls stitched together is the perfect place to have a natter because, let’s face it, everybody gets to talking in a small bar. Stocked up on all the best Belgium fruit beers as well as over 20 bottled ciders and 90 English ales, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Micro Bar.
Micro Bar, Unit FC16, Arndale Food Market, Manchester M4 3AH
Kitsch? Check. Live music? Check. Telly? Big check. Welcome to Fab Café, another Portland Street competitor and the world’s first television and movie-themed bar. Not just an aesthetically-pleasing spot to grab a pint, Fab Café hosts a whole load of weird and wonderful nights from their secret hotdog society to their Robopop night playing the best Electro-pop and 80’s jams. Opened back in the 90s, transport yourself back to the world of cult telly and movies all while reclining back with a cold one.
Fab Café, 109 Portland St, Manchester M1 6DN
The Old Wellington
Half-timbered and fully hearty, the Old Wellington, ‘Old Welly’ if you know it, is just a 3-minute walk from Manchester Cathedral and is the perfect spot for some comfort pub grub paired with a perfectly poured cask ale. Serving up seasonal specialities like their Game Pudding or Lamb Shank Pie, the Old Welly is a sure-fire blast from the past, making it a pretty cool place to enjoy a pint in.
Old Wellington, 4 Cathedral Gates, Manchester M3 1SW
Old School BBQ Bus
For the home of low and slow-cooked barbeque, music and moonshine head to the Old School BBQ Bus in Oldham to make all your smoking-pit dreams come true. After converting a 1982 Bluebird International American school bus from Arizona to a mobile kitchen in 2016 – these guys have never looked back. Cooking up an indulgent selection of brisket, rib, wings, pulled pork, sausages and all else that is good – the Old School BBQ Bus’ 5ft smoker will not disappoint. Fancy revving up your standard pint? They also serve Palmetto American Moonshine, a 60% liquor that’ll really make you feel the fire!
Old School BBQ Bus, Alford St, Hollinwood, Chadderton, Oldham OL9 7LP
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar
Featuring the biggest beer garden in the city, rustic wooden beams and cheap lager – this city centre stronghold definitely deserves a spot on this list. With origins dating back to the 16th century, Sinclair’s Oyster Bar not only survived an IRA bombing in the 90s but was also moved brick-by-brick 300 metres north following the area’s redevelopment. With a buzzing outside space whenever the sun shows its face, this joint isn’t too shabby for a place that’s been going on since the 1700s.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar, 2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester M3 1SW
Bunny & Junior Jackson’s
Home to the 20p chicken wing are the two Manchester stalwarts, Bunny & Junior Jackson’s. Bunny Jackson’s sits pretty on Jack Rosenthal Street while its little cousin, Junior Jackson’s, perches proudly in NQ’s Oldham Street. Fancy a challenge? Test yourself with their hot wings challenge, but only if you’re prepared to shed tears in front of everyone. Win or lose – you’ll be securing a t-shirt to add to your wall of fame either way. Think American sports, cold beer, a LOT of whiskey and frozen margs – these two joints have everything for all your dive-bar dreams…
Bunny Jackson’s, 1 Jack Rosenthal St, Manchester M15 4RA
Junior Jackson’s, 64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE