The last decade or so has seen a huge increase in the popularity of gin, not just drinking it but also the number of small, independent distilleries making it.
It’s now available in such a dazzling array of flavours and kinds, that in Manchester alone we have one bar that stocks nearly 600 bottles of the stuff, and the Old Bell Inn in Saddleworth has around 1300!
So here’s the best places in Manchester to enjoy a proper Gin & Tonic, either because they’ve got A LOT of bottles, or they’re offering something a little bit more elevated than the usual shot of Gordons and a lukewarm Schweppes.
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 580 bottles of the stuff in here, and with such a vast amount to choose from; it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision. 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 probably anyone else in the city.
Atlas, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
Three Little Words
A bar that has become a true stable in town is Three Little Words. The distillery, bar and restaurant is created by the guys behind Manchester Gin. What you absolutely have to do here, despite drinking all the gin, is try out the distillery events. Now listen carefully, you can make your own gin. Yep. So not only can you be drinking the good stuff you can have free rein on all the botanicals and make anything you like, go bloody wild.
Three Little Words, 12-13 Watson Street, Manchester M3 4LP
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 Black Friar
Everyone knows that a G&T tastes better when you’re sat next to a real fire in a warm and cosy pub, and that’s where The Black Friar really shines. Even better though is that they’ve just recently announced a brand new outdoor bar and kitchen for the summer – and it’s sponsored by the top team over at Didsbury Gin. So that means copious amounts of gin in the sunshine, with a load of wood-fired bar snacks. Perfect.
The Black Friar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB
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 1300 types of gin and they’re all ready and available for you to drink at your leisure. There’s been on-going troubles with the people at Guinness over who actually owns the World Record on the number of guns, but the Old Bell is definitely up there somewhere. Oh, and the village of Delph is really bloody nice too.
The Old Bell Inn, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
Ancoats favourite Elnecot has a pretty special cocktail menu, one that is made 100x better with their ‘Supersonics’ – DOUBLE G&T’s that will get you absolutely sloshed in no time. They’ve paired some of the world’s best gins with tonics and garnishes to really bring out the flavours. Try the Navy Strength one – it’s 57%
Elnecot, Cutting Room Square, 41 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ
Tariff & Dale
The Northern Quarter bar and eatery has a rather extensive menu of ‘COPA’ gins – essentially double gin and tonics that have been perfectly paired with each other. So you’re served Bombay Sapphire with a bay leaf, Hendrick’s with cucumber and elderflower tonic and Opihr with basil and black pepper. There’s 4 whole pages of them – and like Pokemon – you definitely should try them all.
Tariff & Dale, 2 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FN
Okay, so Seven Brothers are beer-making experts but did you know that they also make their very own gin? Well, the 7 brothers don’t, the 4 Sisters do. Their distillery has produced a number of different botanical blends over the years, with tasty flavours such as strawberry, lime and thyme, espresso and passionfruit.
39 Blossom Street, Ancoats, M4 5AF
Lockside Lane, Salford, M5 4YP
I wouldn’t really put Italians and Gin together, but Cibo have gone against the grain with a dedicated Gin & Tonic Specials menu which is pretty spectacular alongside a big hearty Carbonara or a huge plate of deli meats and bread. The most Italian G&T you’ll probably ever have, the ‘Basil’ comes with MALFY gin, Mediterranean tonic and, yes you’ve guessed it, fresh basil.
Unit 4, Great Northern Warehouse, M3 4EN
3-11 Liverpool Rd, M3
The Bay Horse Tavern
A traditional old school boozer just has to sell a lot of gin – it’s the rules. So as you’d expect from The Bay Horse Tavern in the heart of the Northern Quarter – they go through A LOT of bottles of Mother’s Ruin every week. They’ve even gone so far as to make their very own gin with the people at Portobello Road Gin – so give that a try if you’re feeling adventurous.
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
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