Three Manchester bars make the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars for 2023

Which Manchester bars have been voted the UK's best?

By Kelly Bishop | Last updated 11 February 2023

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The UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars list has been going strong for five years, launching in June 2018. Sponsored by Franklin & Sons, it is now widely recognised as the gold standard when it comes to bars producing exceptionally crafted drinks. It is part of the same portfolio as the highly respected Top 50 Gastropubs and is voted for by “hundreds of experts, bartenders, bar owners and drinks writers.”

As trends come and go, what stays the same is that the bartenders most dedicated to their craft are all about impeccable ingredients, expertly balanced flavours and stylishly presented drinks that are virtually impossible recreate at home. 

Project Halcyon won a special award this year. Image: Project Halcyon

Not to be underestimated, is the level of service. A great cocktail bar will give you that main character energy, making you feel valued and pampered while enabling you to relax and forget about whatever worries are whirring around your mind.

Taking it to the next level, is an eye for innovation, pushing things forward with creative ideas. Knocking up concoctions worthy of a Michelin star kitchen. Come to think of it, why isn’t there a Michelin or AA system for bars? Well, the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list is a good place to start. 

Schofield’s Bar has tipped into the top five. Image: Schofield’s Bar

While the list is always somewhat London-centric, with almost half the bars on this year’s list operating in the capital, Manchester still represents, and the bars that do make it onto the list are top notch, with two of them sitting pretty in the top 10.

Manchester’s untouchable Schofield’s Bar which this year has shot way up to #4 in the list from its spot at #16 last year. With the new Stock Exchange Grill to be added to the Manchester brothers’ list of esteemed hospitality venues this year, those boys are knocking it out of the park right now. Nice lads too.

The clandestine ideas factory that is Speak In Code also made it into the top 10 this year, up two spots from its position at #10 in 2022, it’s now at #8 and has impressively leapfrogged over London mainstay The Connaught which was last year at #3 and has moved down to #10 for this year. Speak In Code also unusually uses all vegan ingredients in its cocktails so this is even more impressive.

Speak in Code has moved up the rankings. Image: Speak in Code

A new entry for 2023 is the racing green speakeasy Blinker which opened in 2022 to critical acclaim. Blinker’s Dan Berger was formerly Head of Bars at The Ned, London’s five-star hotel and restaurant complex and has been busy making a name for himself in this hidden gem of a bar down the road from Six By Nico. Blinker has entered the list at #41 for 2023.

Last but not least, one of Manchester’s newest bars, Project Halcyon was named One to Watch. It certainly is. Stick it on your list if you haven’t been yet and read our interview to learn more about this cocktail laboratory with a big focus on teamwork and service.

Blinker has entered the list this year. Image: Blinker Bar via Facebook

East-London bar, Satan’s Whiskers, was voted #1 this year – one to visit if you’re ever in the big smoke.

Chris Lowe, publisher of Top 50 Cocktail Bars, said “Whilst London continues to dominate this year’s list, it is very exciting to see other major cities across the UK make their mark. The ever-growing interest in cocktails and bartending within the UK means we are spoilt for choice on where to go, and this list allows for the best of the UK bar scene to have a spotlight placed on them – and for consumers to find these hidden gems.”

Aidy Smith, host of this year’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars event said “It was my absolute honour to join the Top 50 Cocktail Bars family last year and present an awards programme which sits at the beating heart of our industry. It’s been a rough couple of years and these people have fought relentlessly to keep the nations spirits high in so many wonderful ways – it’s time to pay a nod to that. I’m raring to go and couldn’t be more excited to announce the liquid pioneers of 2023. From the Northern coast of Scotland and the valleys of Wales to the southern tip of England, this Isle is home to some of the best mixology and bar-team talent on the planet and it’s my pride and honour to read each and every name on the list.”

Well done to Schofield’s Bar, Speak in Code, Blinker and Project Halcyon. All well deserved winners.


The full list of the Top 50 Cocktail Bars is:

1 Satan’s Whiskers, Bethnal Green, London

2 Lab 22, Cardiff

3 Tayēr + Elementary, Shoreditch, London

4 SCHOFIELD’S BAR, Manchester

5 Swift, Soho, London

6 Panda & Sons, Edinburgh

7 Three Sheets, Dalston, London

8 Speak in Code, Manchester

9 Bar with Shapes for a Name, Hackney, London

10 The Connaught, Mayfair, London

11 Little Mercies, Crouch End, London

12 Couch, Birmingham

13 Bramble, Edinburgh

14 The Pineapple Club, Birmingham

15 Ojo Rojo, Bournemouth

16 Disrepute, Soho, London

17 Artesian, Oxford Circus, London

18 Hideout, Bath

19 Nightjar, Shoreditch, London

20 Present Company, Liverpool

21 Publiq, South Kensington, London

22 Scarfes Bar, Holborn, London

23 Lyaness, South Bank, London

24 Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum, Chinatown, London

25 The Absent Ear, Glasgow

26 Happiness Forgets, Hoxton, London

27 Hey Palu, Edinburgh

28 Filthy XIII, Bristol

29 Homeboy, Islington, London

30 Soma, Soho, London

31 Coupette, Bethnal Green, London

32 Passing Fancies, Birmingham

33 Bar Termini, Soho, London

34 Seed Library, Shoreditch, London

35 Murder Inc, Soho, London

36 Penny Royal, Cardiff

37 Callooh Callay, Shoreditch, London

38 Silverleaf, Liverpool St, London

39 Public, Sheffield

40 Fox & Chance, Birmingham

41 Blinker, Manchester

42 Below Stairs, Leeds

43 Milk Thistle, Bristol

44 Gungho!, Brighton

45 Hedonist, Leeds

46 Amaro, Kensington, London

47 Cottonmouth, Nottingham

48 Tabula Rasa, Leeds

49 Lunar, Glasgow

50 Bench, Sheffield

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