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Discover the hidden (and secret) bars in Manchester

Those little backstreet, hard to find but life-changing bars that we probably shouldn’t tell everyone about...

It’s no secret that Manchester loves a drink. The city’s full to the brim with old-school pubs, chic cocktail bars and late-night drinking dens perfect for a party.

But where do you go when you’re looking for something a little bit more… hidden? Like a speakeasy bar. Those little hard-to-find secret bars that are known only by local word-of-mouth.

What is a speakeasy?

Historically speaking, a speakeasy is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in America during the Prohibition era in the 20s/30s.

Of course the necessity of a speakeasy is gone. The entertainment value, however, remains. Sure it’s a little gimmicky, but there’s something cool about having a few drinks in a bar not too many people know about. The secret bar makes you feel like an insider and most serve up damn good drinks.

It is widely assumed that the cocktail as we know it today is an American invention. We beg to differ. It started life as a Victorian concoction designed to cure ailments and the first recorded use of the word cocktail as a drink appears in The Farmer’s Cabinet from 1803.

Manchester’s secret bars

There are plenty of watering holes dotted around the city that can make you a pretty decent cocktail. The difference is some establishments go the extra mile. Many of them have set trends that have rippled across the city. Some have bartenders who have invented their own elixirs that give a nod back to old Victorian remedies. These bars won’t just help you kick off your night right, they will take your drinking to the next level.

Whether you’re looking for some grade A cocktails or for an intimate outpost to cosy up in, this city has options galore. If you like your bars on the more exclusive side, with a touch of Victorian flare, this list might just help you find your favourite.

There’s many unassuming ways to make an entrance to such establishments. It’s not just about a door with no signage. There’s one in London where you have to enter through a Smeg fridge, there’s one with a secret bookcase and another with an inconspicuous phone-booth in New York. Actual secret doors that reveal a Narnia of cocktails.

Like Fight Club, the first rule is; you don’t talk about it. And if you do, you’re barred for a while. A joint with a low capacity.

Hidden across Manchester, there are a number of secret sipping spots just waiting to be discovered. Manchester nightlife has some great little secrets tucked away, from members-only drinking dens to small underground rock ‘n’ roll bars.

So if you’re tired of the big city joints, then check out our list of the best-hidden bars in Manchester. They’re not all secret or even hidden; mostly just unassuming, quirky or quaint.

How many of these secret bars do you know?


Tucked away next to Another Heart to Feed, Nightcap is a hidden oasis of surreptitious cocktail delight.

With a more relaxed vibe than some of Manchesters bustling Northern Quarter Bars, why not while away the hours on this new spot just off Stevenson Square.

Enjoy the chilled ambiance, neon lighting and midnight dancing to your hearts content.

Lost Cat

Lost Cat is open from Monday – Friday 5pm to 3am. On the weekends they open up from noon until 3 am, for all your late-night requirements. With an incredible list of cocktails, they also offer a superb bottomless brunch with 1.5 hours of food and drink for £29.50.

Cocktails, classics and some cool twists are the order of the day here. Lost Cat also has draught beers, fancy cans, gorgeous wines and fizz.  The venue is split over two floors with two bars. Amazing food, cocktails beers and spirits – this could be the secret bar for you.

64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE

Speak In Code

SiC is a cosy, brick-lined, plant based cocktail bar in Manchester. Focusing on quality service, forward thinking cocktails and comfort food with laid back hip hop playlist.. It’s about transportive, homey, casual vibes.

We’ve got mad passion for good service, flavour and hip hop… The SiC team cultivates an immersive experience in our low lit drinking den. From the imaginative drinks and bartender made eats, we’re all about sharing our love for flavour exploration and hip hop beats. Escape into our low lit drinking den. Immerse yourself in our imaginative drinks list while soaking in industrial New York vibes.

Jackson’s Row, Manchester M2 5ND

The Fitzgerald

Just like the secret drinking spots of the prohibition era, The Fitzgerald has an air of mystery with its back street entrance and dark and moody interior. There’s live music every weekend, with jazz, blues and modern acoustic sets until the early hours, and classic cocktails served in 1920s glassware.

11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB

The Blind Tyger


Accessed via a secret door in Sandinista, locate the buzzer, and a door will pop open, allowing you to make the descent into this hidden drinking den filled with leather booths, dark panelling and curiosity cabinets filled with period memorabilia. Each cocktail is inspired by a piece of history from the 19th century. They also offer a unique selection of gin flights – something we’ve not seen elsewhere in the city.

2½ Old Bank St, M2 7PF 

The Liquor Store

Step on into Manchester’s rock ‘n’ roll oasis just off the beaten track of Deansgate at the top of Blackfriars. A late-night bar opens until 3 am every night of the week, popular amongst the industry lot. A cocktail bar that caters for the city that thinks a table is for dancing on. Order one of their music-themed cocktails and sing your heart out.

40 Blackfriars St, Manchester M3 2EG

Wood & Co.


To find the entrance, look out for the nondescript “goods entrance” sign tucked away discreetly down a Manchester side street. Once inside, drink in the oh-so-shiny black tiling and ornate bar whilst enjoying unassuming table service and intelligently made cocktails. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for their fernet Branca espresso martini – the best we’ve had in the city.

39 S King St, Manchester M2 6DE

Behind Closed Doors

Keep an eye out for the newest cocktail bar to hit Manchester. Down a narrow stairway and, unsurprisingly, behind a closed door lies this drinking den of debauchery and indulgence which opens later this week. This sleek, sexy and downright sleazy throwback bar is one  that has to be visited to be appreciated. Order yourself a Furry Cup, a mix of Absolute Kurant Vodka, Gifford Creme De Mure, lemon, egg white and white peach and shaken hard for a foamy top. If you’re feeling kinky, maybe try the 50 Shades of Earl Grey.

91 – 95 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW


Located down a Northern Quarter back alley, this retro gamer paradise has consoles from the 70s, 80s and 90s covering old school favourites like Pac Man and Space Invaders as well as fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Cocktails are named after game characters (Princess Peach, anyone?), and they’ve got a solid selection of retro crisps too.

2 Short St, Manchester M4 1PW 

The Daisy


A hip members-only co-working space by day, as night, draws in The Daisy transforms into an esoteric subterranean wine and cocktail bar. If you’re a fan of a proper martini, this is the spot for you because they’ve twelve different variations on the menu. Open to the public Wednesday – Sunday, find it underneath popular NQ eatery Evelyns.

44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LA



Hiding up a little backstreet just off Deansgate, from the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking Arcane was an antique bookshop of some description. Step inside and descend the stairs, though, and you’ll find a cosy little underground speakeasy. Dark and intimate, it’s a wonderful spot for a date night. Make sure to check out their cocktail specials board to discover the latest concoctions the bar team is working on.

2 S King St, Manchester M2 6DQ

The Washhouse


This Shudehill bar looks like an unsuspecting laundrette from the outside, but all is certainly not quite as it seems at The Washhouse. One of the worst kept secrets in Manchester, behind its deceptive frontage, lies a dark and sultry cocktail bar slinging out seriously good drinks. To get in, you’ll need to use the retro rotary dial phone in the corner. Just make sure to book in advance; they don’t just let anyone in. And leave that bin bag full of washing at home. And it just got bigger

19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF


One of Manchester’s best-loved hidden bars, you’ll find Corbieres discreetly located down an access-only side street near St Ann’s Square. Descend the stairs, and you’ll enter a cavernous drinking den filled with oak barrels, a cave-like roof and one of the best jukeboxes in Manchester. It’s one of the most notorious drinking dens in the city for a reason.

2 Half Moon Street, Manchester, M2 7PB

The Temple


Formerly known as The Temple of Convenience, in a previous life, this quirky little beer bar functioned as a Victorian public toilet. Now home to a fantastic array of bottled and draught beers from around the world, it’s also blessed with a grand jukebox packed with some amazing Manchester bands, many of whom frequent The Temple.

100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, M1 5JW

Science + Industry


Accessed via a secret staircase, Science + Industry is home to some of the best cocktails in Manchester. Equipped with its own mini-chemistry lab in the back, on any given day, you can bet that the team is busy behind the scenes working on the finer details of distillation, filtration, and crystallisation. An added plus – when you start feeling a bit boozy, you can order dirty American food from an adjoining bar, Cane and Grain

49 -51 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA

The Seven Oaks

Pic Akash Khadka

The ultimate secret bar. Open to everyone in the day, come the stroke of midnight, it transforms into one of the most exclusive watering holes in Manchester. From 12am, landlord Phil Greenwood only lets in hospitality workers, requiring proof of employment to gain admission. If you do manage to wangle your way in, you’ll find everyone from high-end mixologists to Wetherspoons bartenders enjoying a drink. It’s nothing fancy, but that’s kind of the charm.

5 Nicholas St, Manchester M1 4HL

Dusk Til Pawn


From the front, this bar looks like a quirky little pawnshop, but behind the facade lies one of the finest cocktail bars in Manchester. With a jukebox, killer drinks and a speakeasy vibe, it’s great for a party on a Saturday night. Famous for their picklebacks, make sure you try their legendary Pawnstar martini, too.

Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN


Discovered one yourself that we haven’t listed? It’s a far cry but let us know in the comments below…

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

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