There’s loads of great places knocking around the city – just make sure you don’t drink too much and end up falling down the stairs – everyone’s going to see.
Twenty Twenty Two
The quintessential basement bar, Twenty Twenty Two is one of the coolest (and prettiest) places in the city, complete with some brilliant street art on the walls and all of those sexy white tiles on the walls which make you feel a bit like you’re in a hospital in 1937. Dragging you back to the modern day though is the massive bar with a load of top-notch cocktails, a couple of arcade machines and those all-important ping pong tables which manage to take any visit to this basement to a whole new level of fun.
Twenty Twenty Two, 20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ
A huge underground retreat of drinks, food, tunes and screens, Dive NQ is your one-stop shop for any evening out in the city and somewhere where it’s pretty impossible not to have a good time. Their food menu at the moment is run by the talented lot from Zumu down in Wilmslow – so you can expect some truly wonderful Asian street food and some really good sushi. They also have plenty of happy hours on the go and they show pretty much every bit of sport ever, from the footy on Sky Sports 1 right up to Midget Sumo Wrestling on Sky Sports 9.
Dive NQ, 12 Tib St, Manchester M4 1SH
This New York inspired bar feels like it’s been a part of the Manchester bar scene for absolutely ages now – and if we’re being honest with each other – it has. It’ll soon be getting to 10 years since Black Dog opened and in those 10 years I’m ashamed to say that not only has my weight inflated dramatically but also the number of wrinkles on my face too. This is in part due to the many, many Friday nights spent in here – drinking cocktails and dancing like a prized tool until 4am in the morning. It’s probably about time I took it easy in my old age – but it’s difficult. Really difficult.
Black Dog, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Crazy Pedro’s NQ
Another brilliant basement offering under Affleck’s, Crazy Pedro’s Northern Quarter offering is the perfect place to spend a few hours drinking mezcal and eating your weight in cheese, meat and dough. They serve up slices until 4 in the morning so there’s not really any excuse for getting TOO drunk, and they always have a brilliant monthly special on offer that typically includes some bat shit crazy ingredients. I should also mention their frozen cocktails – those Margaritas are always a winner.
Crazy Pedro’s NQ, Short St, Manchester M1 1JG
One of the city’s most enduring and loved venues, Corbieres is still going strong after around 300 years in a basement just off St Ann’s Square. As you descend the steps you’ll feel like you’re in some sort of cave, but it quickly opens up into a cosy little boozer with plenty of top bevvies and what is considered by many to be the greatest jukebox in the city. The jury is still out on that one (the Temple?) but there’s no denying that this is a Manchester institution that is well worth a visit any day of the week.
Corbieres Wine Cavern, 2 Half Moon St, Manchester M2 7PB
0161 834 3381
You’ll find a set of steps round the back of new bar Salloonville (formerly Dogs n Dough) that take you even further down to the centre of the Earth and into 17 Below, an 80’s themed joint with some brilliant old school arcade machines (that are FREE), pool tables and even more lovely cocktails. This is one of my most favourite places in the city to go to on a Saturday – it’s busy but not too busy and there’s always something to do. They also have an excellent Happy Hour that offers up £5 between 5pm and 10pm every day.
17Below, 17 Bow Ln, Manchester M2 4FW
The newest basement bar on the block and this one is a super special slice of 80’s nostalgia. In what used to be ‘The Bunker’ you’ll uncover a wealth of retro arcade machines, pinball, cool cocktails and even a few consoles to take you back to 1994 when you used to go round Craig McCoy’s house and get battered at Street Fighter on his SNES. To play the games you’ll need to buy the special NQ64 coins which cost £5 for 15 – so you can drink, dance and smash your mates at Golden Axe all night long without having to sell a kidney.
NQ64, 2 Short St, Manchester M4 1PW
Temple of Convenience
Not strictly a ‘basement’, the Temple is actually located in an old public toilet but considering you have to walk down steps to get in, it’s dingy inside and there’s no windows – I’d say it totally qualifies to be on this list. I’m a massive fan of this place, mostly because their beer selection is bloody brilliant but also because it’s impossible not to have a good bit of banter in here. You’re pretty much all sitting on each other’s knees so you’re forced to chat and get involved. Oh, and the jukebox is brilliant too and definitely better than the one in Corbieres.
The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JW
0161 278 1610
The Liars Club
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad night in Liars Club. It’s almost impossible with all of that rum, fire and old school hip-hop flying around, and once you’ve had a couple of Zombies – the night will be one to remember. Or forget. Or remember bits and pieces but mostly forget all of it until you start to sober up in the Uber on the way home and realised that you’ve pulled. The cocktails in here are fantastic and the knowledgeable staff will be able to knock anything up for you if you let them know what you like. Don’t tell them about your obsession with Tennants Super though – they won’t help.
The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge St, Manchester M3 2PB
Behind Closed Doors
Still one of my most favourite late-night venues in the city, there was a time when Behind Closed Doors was just a manky looking door on Oldham Street and only those who really knew about it would pop in. Well now they’ve installed a little neon sign over the door it’s pretty obvious that the door hides a hidden den of great cocktails, sleazy interiors and quite possibly the best funk, soul and disco tunes this side of the Atlantic. The DJ’s here are fucking amazing – creating a soundtrack to your night that will be hard to forget in a hurry. You’ll definitely have Shazam out on your phone for at least 78% of the night.
Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW
0161 834 8148
Tucked right underneath the rather large Hatters Hostel on Newton Street, Hold Fast is a Jules Verne inspired bar which sort of fits in with the travelling aspect of the whole hostel thing above. There’s loads of stuff going on down here with a massive drinks menu, food, consoles, music, a cinema and whatever else you can think of to do inside a boozer. They even do a FREE chips and nuggets night after work on a Friday which is just too good to miss out on.
Hold Fast Bar, 50 Newton St, Manchester M1 2EA
A brand-spanking new basement drinking den to open up underneath Sandinista just off St Ann’s Square. The whole concept is based around the kind of speakeasies that were knocking about during the 19th Century (well before the Prohibition) and so you can expect the cocktails to be a rather eclectic mix of flavours, textures and styles. The drinks in here are exceptional and the team serving them very dedicated and knowledgeable indeed.
Sandinista, 2 Old Bank St, City Centre, Manchester M2 7PF