What makes a great bar? Most will agree that it requires a whole host of ingredients - be it a standout cocktail list, an inspired design scheme, or a lively ambience. Fortunately, here in Manchester we're spoilt for choice, with many of our top drinking spots rivalling even the capital's best.

From upscale rooftop terraces to subterranean drinking dens, Manchester's bar scene has long been the envy of the North thanks to its rich variety of watering holes. Whether you're after a sophisticated tipple at a plush cocktail bar, or a nightcap at an underground dive bar - Manchester has you covered.

We've rounded up some of the best bars in the city centre so you can plan ahead for your next trip into town. Whether you're looking for a date night spot or just somewhere for a quiet one with a few friends, below you'll find plenty of inspiration.

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Schofield’s Bar

Brothers Joe and Daniel Schofield

Not only one of the best in Manchester, but also one of the best in the UK, this award-winning cocktail bar is simply world class. Run by brothers Joe and Daniel Schofield, the service is impeccable, the interior low-lit and classy, and the drinks executed to absolute perfection. Concentrating on the classics, you won’t be getting your Manhattan delivered in plumes of dry ice or your Sidecar served up in a miniature bathtub. Instead, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your drink is being made absolutely as it should be.

3 Little Quay Street Sunlight House, Manchester M3 3JZ

The Refuge

The Refuge

There are fewer more striking rooms in the whole of the city than the bar at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel. Once upon a time the headquarters of the Refuge Assurance Company, it was transformed into the glorious bar it is today in 2017, with its open main floor, indoor winter garden, games room and dining space to the side, featuring sumptuous dining booths. ‘The Glamour of Manchester’, its tiling proclaims. The glamour indeed.

Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA


YES Manchester

Fashioned from an old auction house, this four-floor bar found where city nightlife meets academia is a melting pot of students, hipsters, muso-types of all ages - thanks to the gigs in its intimate Pink Room - and everything in between. The basement is a tiny rave den, the first floor a relaxed (except on Friday and Saturday nights) spot to have drinks and grab a bite, while the top floor terrace is perfect for al fresco antics and, on occasion, dancing under the stars. The prices are also respectable.

38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB


Common on Edge Street

An Northern Quarter institution, Common has been the cornerstone of many a lost weekend since it threw open its doors in 2004. Having pivoted in recent years and thrown itself headlong into the craft beer scene - and now an outpost for Nell’s Pizza too - the bar has evolved when it needed to, and cemented its place in the city’s bar ever-changing scene, while other pretenders have fallen by the wayside. Common, we salute you.

39-41 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW

Tariff & Dale

Tariff and Dale

Tucked away at the edge of the Northern Quarter, number two Tariff Street was a cotton warehouse long before it was a place to drink elegant cocktails in smart, post-industrial surroundings. Loads of the original features remain too, while the backyard kicks you out into what looks like a scene from New York, with its fire escape ladders and towering blocks either side of you. The cocktails favour the classics, but you can have them with a modern twist too. And the sourdough pizza and Sunday roasts are really no slouch either.

2 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FN

The Alchemist

The Alchemist in Spinningfields has been renovated.

The original of three Manchester venues, this experiential brand launched back in 2010 and immediately made an impression on the city. A haven for molecular mixology - think dry ice, cocktails in test tubes and optical illusions - you name it they've tried it and a decade later it's popularity endures as they continue to offer distinctive, awe-inspiring tipples.

3 Hardman St, Manchester M3 3HF

The Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre is a neighbourhood bar in the city, serving not only the denizens of Ancoats, but those who want a cosy place to settle in the centre of town, wherever they may call home. It’s thanks to solid service, a fabulous range of cocktails and, increasingly, its food - the Sunday roast is a scorcher. But it will always be a bar foremost, and at that it truly excels making this a comforting regular when on the other side of Great Ancoats Street.

14 Hood St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6WX

Sammy’s Bar

Sitting somewhere between a 70s office and a 70s caff - with its fixed table and chair sets, wood panelling, ceiling tiles, neon and kitsch paintings - Sammy’s is heavy on the interior concept, but somehow manages to make it seem like it’s not trying too hard. A dive bar in the best sense of the word, it does great cocktails, has a great little garden out the back, and when it goes off, it really goes off.

26 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JQ

The Ivy

The Ivy Manchester

This Hardman Square restaurant and bar is THE place to be seen, especially if you enjoy celeb spotting. With over 535 covers across four floors its certainly one of Manchester's biggest and most lavish venues - just look at golden chandeliers and marble floors. Pop yourself down at The Ivy's roof garden decked out in opulent fabrics and masses of plants, and grab yourself a Cornucopia Margarita and you'll be hobnobbing with the footballer's wives in no time.

The Pavilion, Byrom St, Manchester M3 3HG

Ducie Street Warehouse

Ducie Street Warehouse

Ducie Street Warehouse would not be out of place in any capital in the world, an impressively cosmopolitan haunt that’s both stunning to look at and comfy at the same time. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but one DSW manages effortlessly, and it’s got it all - smart booths, sink-into sofas, acres of light from the floor to ceiling industrial windows, expertly crafted cocktails and great snacks to soak them up with.

Ducie St, Manchester M1 2TP

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors

Beneath the paving slabs of Oldham Street, this self-proclaimed den of debauchery trades heavily on its ‘adult’ credentials. As such, there are old school ‘gentleman’s magazines’ framed on the walls, mannequins dressed up in S&M gear and old school phones on the tables, allowing you to call your drinks in from the bar, or have a word with another table. What goes on behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors.

93 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW

Albert’s Schloss

Albert’s Schloss

What Albert’s Schloss perhaps lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in character - a sprawling beerhaus complete with open fires, schnitzels, steins and wild cabaret going on into the early hours every night of the week. It does something that no other bar in the city does - or perhaps would dare to - and for that, it should be applauded.

27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR

The Whiskey Jar

The Whiskey Jar

For those partial to a dram or two, The Whiskey Jar - a former mill spread over two floors. Brilliantly rustic and down to earth, there's an immediate feeling of warmth when you enter this Northern Quarter gem thanks to its open fire places, worn leather sofas and twinkling lights. Behind the bar you'll find over 100 high quality cask whiskeys from across the globe, as well as real ales, ciders and a range of cocktails.

14 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF

Speak In Code

Speak In Code cocktail bar

Bartender par excellence Nathan Larkin’s Speak In Code is another internationally recognised, award-winning cocktail bar, and while the likes of Schofield’s and its sister bar Sterling do the classics better than anyone, SiC is pushing the avant garde, but not merely for the sake of it. Experimental takes on everything from the Martini to the Manhattan are thrilling to behold, and the dark, underground, exposed brick interior only adds to the intrigue.

7 Jackson's Row, Manchester M2 5ND

20 Stories

The rooftop bar at 20 Stories has been named as one of the best in the world
The rooftop bar at 20 Stories has been named as one of the best in the world

Emerging on Manchester's skyline in 2018, D&D London's flagship restaurant, bar and terrace is Manchester's highest - and potentially the most exclusive drinking spot in the city. Earlier this year it's rooftop terrace was named one of the best in the world - beating out venues in Melbourne, Istanbul and Houston - your interest must be piqued now? With a brand new winter menu - think festive riffs and classic cocktails - in collaboration with French vodka brand Ciroc, now might be the time to venture 20 stories up.

NO. 1, 1 Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB

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