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… intimate? Those little hard to find secret bars known only by local word-of-mouth.
Hidden across Manchester, there’s 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.
Manchester’s secret bars
How many of these secret bars do you know?
Lost Cat aka The Bud and Pot
Crazy cocktails and bagels smothered with an obscene amount of meat and cheese? Go on then. From the team behind [deep breath] The Liar’s Club, Bunny Jackson’s, Crazy Pedro’s, Southside, The Bay Horse Tavern and Junkyard Golf comes a new bar that doubles as a sandwich shop over on Oldham Street. Make your way through the Bud and Pot, a new local florist which fronts the shop, and enjoy an all-day menu of breakfasts, bagels and burgers served up by sandwich connoisseurs, Eat New York (the previous residents of the venue). They also have an eyebrow-raising menu of quirky cocktails – one even has carrot cake syrup and a cream cheese foam – as well as a strong selection of beers and wines. And did we mention they also have a rooftop terrace? They’ll soon be launching live music nights upstairs and open-air cinema screenings.
Speak In Code
A cafe by day, serving up sandwiches and coffee to the masses, by 7 pm Speak In Code transforms into a stylish secret cocktail bar – dishing up ingredient-led cocktails (think homemade cordials, infused spirits and shrubs), alongside a selection of entirely plant-based small plates. Accessed via a backstreet doorway, find it off the beaten track just behind Albert Square.
Jackson’s Row, Manchester M2 5ND
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
This hidden bar might look like a garish American bodega from the outside, but don’t be fooled. You can’t pick up a pint of milk and a paper here – but they do some great cocktails. Try their ‘Cheeri-f*ckin-O’ – a creamy mix of vanilla vodka and ice cream, coffee liqueur. It comes topped with a sprinkling of (yes, you guessed it) Cheerios and Cinnamon Crunch. Winning.
100-102 High St, Manchester M4 1HP
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
Not secret but definitely hidden, 1837 can be found sequestered in the basement of Corn Exchange steak restaurant Alston Bar & Beef. Speakeasy in style, there are over 60 gins to be tried on the back bar, plus a list of classic and bespoke cocktails. Alston makes its own cold compound gin infusions in the house, and this really is the house speciality. There’s wine and beer, too, if you don’t feel like getting ginny with it, though.
Cathedral St, Manchester M4 3TR
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
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
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
This 80’s basement hangout is accessed via an unassuming door inside its brother site Dogs n Dough. Signature cocktails are wittily-named and include the Puckerman (limoncello, bitters, pear drop), Fistful of Quarters (rum, gingerbread, raisin and almond) and the Bounty Hunter (rum, coconut, mango, lime, cream and coconut dust). The perfect spot for whiling away a few hours on the huge American pool tables with mates.
17 Bow Ln, Manchester M2 4FW
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
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
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
The newest addition to the Black Dog Ballroom family, The Bunker is an extension of Black Dog NQ and offers DJ sets, quiz nights, a ping pong table – and a huge dance floor. Fall in on Friday nights for weekly club night, Juicy, with wall to wall hip-hop, R&B and garage bangers. Saturday night sees resident DJs and special guests bring their massive dance floor to life. Other weekly nights include Bare Bones: Acoustic Mondays and Fizz Face Friday where you can grab a £12 bottle of Prosecco between 5pm-1pm.
Basement Affleck’s Palace, Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Discovered one yourself that we haven’t listed? It’s a far cry but let us know in the comments below…