Whilst the majority of new students are happy to be freshers and head out in mass herds, after those initial weeks of luminous drinks and cringy small-talk you’ll want to venture out of Fallowfield to somewhere a bit different. Somewhere with character, somewhere with non-freshers and classier alcoholic beverages. So if you’re in need of some culture and an alternative to the SU bar, here are Tom Ingham’s selection of places to check out.
Tex-Mex food, five full-length bowling lanes and beer is what makes the Dog Bowl the go to for a casual night of fun with friends and if that’s not enough they’re also giving away some big prizes for freshers week. If anyone’s stealing the show in the bowling alley then they clearly haven’t had enough to drink! *Please drink responsibly and don’t take bowling too seriously.
In short: Beers, burgers and bowling.
Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
Situated next to two student favourites (Factory and Fifth), Joshua Brooks caters for lots of different occasions. Firstly, if you want to watch the football somewhere that takes it seriously, this is the place – audible commentary, multiple screens and a projector make this the place for those who want to enjoy sport uninterrupted. But I don’t want to paint JB as a masculine sports bar; inside it’s comfortable, spacious and cool with a great selection of spirits (particular whiskies), cocktails and ales for very reasonable city-centre prices if you take time to peruse the deals menu. Not one to ignore nightlife, their basement plays host to an eclectic mix of club nights including Manchester’s most established Hip-Hop night, Juicy.
In short: Jack of all trades, master of football.
106 Princess St, Manchester M1 6NG
You’ll learn quickly that the Northern Quarter is one of those places that people either love or pretend they think is hipster but actually really like, too. While there’s a lot on offer here, we recommend a NQ original, a pub bursting with character, atmosphere and great music. The Castle Hotel at the bottom of Oldham St is a pub that opens later than most in the area – you can normally get served up till 2am on a weekend – with a range of cask ales, lagers and spirits to satisfy even the pickiest of drinkers. The pub is home to not one, but two great jukeboxes that are virtually idiot proof as long as you don’t hog them. The Castle is also renowned for gigs, from budding locals to real acoustic treats. We actually saw Lily and Madeleine grace this great little venue a few years back.
In short: Jukebox, gigs, beer, open late. Proper pub filled with people of all ages.
66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Twenty Twenty Two
Tucked away off Dale St, Twenty Twenty Two is a basement bar that never fails to delight. Essentially, there’s a bar stocked with cocktails, prosecco, ale, lager etc and then there’s two rooms of ping pong tables. Before you start swinging a bat in one hand whilst holding your drink in the other, you pay a small fee for the table and a time slot. This stops table hoggers. When not playing host to some of the worst table tennis you’re likely to ever see, it acts as a cultural space for almost anything so it’s well worth checking their events listing.
In short: Alcohol and table tennis make for a lot of fun.
20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ
First things first. Though not as inconspicuous as has been made out, but with two washing machines and a fairly understated front, The Washhouse is still able to surprise and stay true to its ‘hidden’ image. Venture inside and there’s a strong selection of cocktails and an emphasis on customer service. Staff take the time to learn about your tastes and recommend drinks based on your preferences.
In short: Impress on dates and celebrate in style.
Somewhere in Manchester city centre
Manchester’s craft beer scene is booming and if you’re at all interested in sampling the best the area and the UK has to offer, then a trip to this Blackjack brewery-owned pub is a must. Situated near another craft institution, the Crown and Kettle, the Smithfield Tavern is a spacious and relaxed bar in Ancoats that boasts some quirky pub games and, of course, superb beer.
In short: Beer, beer, and more beer. And board games.
37 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ