We all love a pint or two in a cosy hideaway as temperatures drop and the nights start to draw in – but what makes the perfect pub?
For food and drink writers, critics and presenters Tom Parker Bowles and Olly Smith, it’s “one with a roaring fire, comfy nooks to dwell in, ideally dogs welcome, great grub and a carefully chosen gathering of ales and wines.”
The duo have picked what they believe to be the 100 cosiest pubs in Britain for The Mail on Sunday – and four of them are in Manchester.
Award-winning food writer Tom Parker Bowles, who is the son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the author of seven cookery books, and a guest critic on MasterChef: the Professionals, has picked two pubs in the city that he thinks fit the bill.
The first is The Circus on Portland Street, “the smallest pub in Manchester” with one of the smallest bars in the country.
“But small doesn’t mean second-rate. Hell no,” writes Tom.
“It’s owned by Tetley’s brewery and there are fireplaces, wooden panelling and sash windows. But not enough room for queuing up at the bar. So it’s table service only for the 45 or so lucky punters who find their way inside.”
What does he choose to eat and drink in The Circus?
“No food, but a pint of Tetley’s. Obviously.”
The second Manchester pub to make Tom’s list is The City Arms on Kennedy Street, a cosy two-room pub with eight hand pulls, mainly local ales.
“There are leather banquettes, stained-glass windows and the feeling of an old-fashioned boozer,” writes Tom.
“At lunch there’s a menu, but hot pies are available all day. Along with pickled eggs. In a world of chain pubs, The City Arms offers the real thing.”
His favourite dish there is gammon and eggs, which is £6.75.
TV presenter, wine expert, columnist and author Olly Smith has also picked two Manchester pubs which he believes offer top tipples.
The first is Beermoth Cafe on Brown Street, which Olly describes as “modern and magical, this is one of my favourite places to drink in Britain.
“Booths are snug, snacks are good, and setting cosiness aside, the beer is among the best-kept and the bottles list is epic.
“Sourced from around the world with some rare bottles as well as home-grown favourites, this place rightly gets busy – my tip is to head there mid-afternoon.
Olly’s favourite drink at Beermoth is Crooked Stave St Bretta Pomelo – despite the jaw-dropping price tag.
“One of my favourite US breweries – sour, funky and fruity,” he writes. “And worth the hefty price of £14.15!”
The second pub to make Olly’s list is The Marble Arch on Rochdale Road.
“I once spent a memorable evening with Oz Clarke drinking in this Grade II-listed Mancunian landmark and we both agreed the beer was special,” he says.
“The original home of the Marble Brewery with nine hand pulls, eight kegs and various ciders, it’s hard to fault the drinks in this characterful refuge.
“It’s stacked with period features such as the mosaic floor, which contrasts with the open kitchen serving bang-up-to-date cooking. A gem.”
His favourite drink is their Manchester Bitter, which is £3.40 a pint.