Bars in Manchester

Polly Checkland Harding, Exhibitions Editor

With our top five picks in this guide, we’ve tried to go for a spread – both geographically, and in terms of what each has to offer. So, a wine jukebox near Albert Square, a loveably scuzzy pub on Oxford Road, new Scandi-chic in the Northern Quarter and a champagne bar near Deansgate (no, not as pricey as you’d think) are all in the mix. All sorts of alcohol in lots of different settings, in short. Cheers!

Here are our top 5 picks

  • 1. Épernay

    Afternoon tea on table

    Walk into this warmly-lit space one floor up – full of dark wood and black leather chairs – and you’ll find champagne heaven. There are 15 different varieties by the glass, alongside a menu of excellent cocktails, nibbles and even afternoon tea. Best of all, Épernay has a balcony for when the weather plays nice.

  • 2. Sandbar

    Photo of Sandbar's wooden pavement sign

    Just off Oxford Road, this well-loved bar might be a bit rough around the edges, but its drinks are up to scratch, with an excellent range of ales on tap and a great whisky selection, too. Sandbar also boasts a jukebox and three indoor areas, as well as outdoor seating and a small courtyard beer garden.

  • 3. Salut wines

    Salut entrance cropped

    With a staggering 44 wines by the glass, partly due to the regularly changing selection of bottles in its Enomatic wine preservation machines (or ‘wine jukeboxes,’ as they’re colloquially known), Salut is one of the best bars in the city for exploring new vintages. It has a lovely, wide-windowed feel and a small menu of tapas-style plates.

  • 4. Big Hands

    The front of Big Hands bar

    Forgive Big Hands’ slightly tatty, dark interior – this is a Manchester institution, popular with musicians attending gigs at the nearby Academies. Enjoy a good range of European bottled beers or a daytime coffee and a sarnie on the eclectic seating, with tunes from the jukebox rolling noisily through the pub.

  • 5. Common Bar

    An image of Common Bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter
    Ben Williams

    Common is now one of the more grown-up bars on the Northern Quarter block, with fully retractable front windows, ash tables and regularly updated small exhibitions. There’s a new menu of excellent small plates, burgers, sandwiches and big plates, alongside coffee, craft beer, cocktails and wine.