When I was a kid I would always get really confused when watching 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' at the bit where they went into the wall at a bar to hide from Judge Doom.
I could just never understand why there was a separate, secret room which had a peep hole in it into the main bar. Once I got older however, and found out about the Prohibition – all became crystal clear.
The Prohibition, although an idiotic idea and subsequent massive failure, has since provided ample subject matter for movie makers, novelists and bartenders ever since. Without the Prohibition there would be no gangsters and therefore no Godfather. Without the Prohibition there also wouldn’t be any of the many speakeasies that have popped up in the city over the last few years…
Behind Closed Doors
There’s a seemingly non-descript pink door about halfway down Oldham Street. As the door opens you begin to descend into Behind Closed Doors, a veritable den of sleaze and debauchery, complete with a substantial list of fabulous cocktails, vintage erotica and a buzz of funk and soul tunes. Get yourself a cocktail, park yourself in one of their booths and try your best to chat up some girls and boys on the vintage telephones that are conveniently dotted around.
Behind Closed Doors, 91-95 Oldham Street, M4 1LW
Science & Industry
You’re enjoying a massive plate of some of the best ribs you’ve ever eaten, and your chin, fingers and shirt is coated in a sloppy layer of BBQ sauce as you go to town on your food. As you glance up you notice someone pull the wall away and disappear through a secret doorway. You quickly finish your ribs, pay the bill and head on up through the doorway to Science & Industry – a super-spiffy speakeasy specialising in innovative cocktail creations and the attempt to push the boundaries of scientific and molecular mixology. This may all sound rather complicated but the lay man can expect a big selection of mental cocktails, mixed up and devised in their own back-room laboratory – giving you some crazy flavours and odd sensory experiences with every sip.
Cane & Grain, 49 -51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 839 7033
You’ve spilt beetroot juice all over your new Frankie Says Relax t-shirt and so you quickly run down to the local laundrette on Shudehill to get it cleaned up before you head on over to an 80’s party at Tiger Tiger. As you enter you notice that they don’t have many machines and it’s a bit quiet, but screw it – desperate times and all that. Unfortunately none of the machines work, and as you frustratingly scramble around with your packet of Bold, you realise that a young couple with trendy haircuts have walked in, picked up a phone and then disappeared through a door on the wall disguised as a dryer. Well, this is The Washhouse – a speakeasy bar disguised as a laundrette – offering a range of cocktails and fizz in a newly extended and expanded environment packed with trendy peeps and modern songs. To enter you will need to book on the phone.
The Washhouse, 19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF
0161 839 5287
Another new addition to this list, and another one on Oldham Street. It’s almost become ‘Speakeasy Alley’ on here, and as the number of innocuous-looking doors uncover full bars and clubs, the better this end of town becomes. The smaller cousin to Bunny Jackson’s – Juniors is hidden behind a pretty manky door next to The Castle, walk in and you’ll find yourself in a basement dive haven, which will instantly transport you over to some murky bar in the States, complete with banging rock anthems, loads of shots and my new favourite drink – the Mega Turbo Shandy.
Junior Jackson’s, 64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Dead Eye Darts
You’re absolutely smashing your mates at ping pong down in the basement of Twenty Twenty Two and you notice a load of commotion down at the back of the room through a dark little door. Curious, you enter to find Dead Eye Darts, a no nonsense darts den where you can fling arrows at the wall to your heart’s content. Grab some cocktails from the bar, get your calculator out of your pocket (or use your phone or your Casio watch) and show your mates how it’s done.
Twenty Twenty Two, The Basement, Little Lever St, Manchester M1 1EZ
Dusk til Pawn
You’ve had a bit of financial difficulty recently and have managed to slip your Nan’s ring off her hand and into your pocket while she was sleeping. If only you could get that bloody thing pawned you can head on out this weekend with the girls – it’s Sarah’s birthday after all. Apparently there’s a pawn shop on Stevenson Square, but as you enter, you realise that it’s a bloody bar and not a pawn shop at all! Well, it’s Dusk til Pawn and although the exterior is set up to look like a shop, the interior is very much a buzzing bar complete with a great jukebox, loads of cocktails and a great selection of craft ales. They also have a fantastic selection of whiskeys and bourbons, so you can probably have one of the best Old Fashions in town here. You’ll just have to secretly slip your Nan’s ring back on her finger and think of another way to scrape 50 quid together.
Dusk Til Pawn, Northern Quarter, Manchester M1 1FB
0161 236 5355
A brand-new addition to Oldham Street, you’ll likely find yourself walking about wondering where on Earth this bar is, probably while you’re stood right outside it. The entrance to this cocktail and slider den is shielded by a rather lovely plant shop The Bud & Pot. Pick yourself up a spider plant, a nice new ceramic pot and then slip round the back into the main bar and grab a couple of inventive cocktails, including the amazing Captain Don (which tastes just like liquid Werther’s Originals).
Lost Cat, 64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
One Eight Six
You’ve woke up and realised that last night, after 10 lagers, you decided to try and cut yourself a magnificent mullet, only to right royally fuck it up and end up looking like a prized tool. So you totter off down Deansgate (with a beanie hat on) and you spy a barbershop just next to Hawksmoor. You pop in, sit down and expose your hairy mess to the barber, only to quickly discover that there’s a ton of people dancing and drinking down some steps. What’s going on here then? One Eight Six is a hidden cocktail club and live music venue that’s open until late on the weekends. Sort your hair out, order some cocktails and enjoy a proper good night out.
ONE EIGHT SIX, 186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB