Lockdown has eased and we’ve got a whole season of catching up to do – safely distanced, naturally. And what better place than the classic British beer garden? Outdoor drinking and dining is safer than indoor, so it makes sense that we’ll flock to the venues with the best beer gardens and outdoor drinking areas.
Reopening hasn’t been viable for many pubs, sadly, but certain pubs and bars in Manchester either have a quality, spacious beer garden, or have hit the location jackpot and discovered an outdoor space that can be repurposed for casual outdoor drinks.
Many come with heat lamps and umbrellas to combat the worst excesses of the unpredictable UK weather, but ideally, we want the weather to be sunny and warm for as long as possible so we can make the most of outdoor drinking while distancing restrictions are in place. If anyone knows the number of the Greek god in charge of weather, drop him a line.
This is our best option for the time being, and all things going well it could pan out a lot better than we dared imagine back in early springtime. If you’re looking for an outside drink this summer (and autumn too) then the pubs listed below come both with a top-quality beer garden and highly recommended.
Here are our picks
Common Bar, 39-47 Edge Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1HW - Visit now
Alan Partridge might not approve but we’re enormous fans of the pedestrianisation of the Northern Quarter, and Common’s area on Edge Street is one of the district’s very best. It’s quiet enough to avoid the Ibiza strip feel of nearby areas but full of trendsetting 20-30somethings, just like the early days of the NQ.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE - Visit now
Ask anyone who knows anything about Manchester pubs and they’ll soon start waxing lyrical about The Briton’s Protection. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Manchester – if not the oldest pub – and it has a magnificent, sun-trapping outdoor space to sit and enjoy beers and whiskies with friends. Highly, highly recommended for all you beer garden connoisseurs.
The New Oxford, 11 Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, M3 6DB - Visit now
Bexley Square is at the heart of Salford’s most fast-growing and desirable area and it’s also home to The New Oxford. It’s a classic old-school pub with a vast range of drinks to enjoy on benches outside. Expect cheerful staff, friendly punters and enough open space to enjoy the sun when its out – plus protective umbrellas when it isn’t.
The Corner Boy, 21 Hilton St, Manchester, M1 1JJ - Visit now
One of our favourite finds after lockdown eased, The Corner Boy is a superb place for outdoors drinks in the Northern Quarter. Based at the entrance to Stevenson Square, the cocktail menu is one of the best in the city (the rum cocktail is a must-try), the staff are the friendliest around and the outside seating area is a perfect sun trap.
Mr Thomas’s Chop House, 52 Cross St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 7AR - Visit now
Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened in 1870. Expect beautiful arches, Victorian-era fixtures and fittings, classic British cooking and an excellent wine list. Head around the back and you’ll find a splendid outdoor drinking area, right in the heart of the city centre.
The Pilcrow, The Pilcrow, Sadler’s Yard, Hanover Street, NOMA, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 0AB - Visit now
Now back in action, beer gardens don’t get much better than The Pilcrow Pub’s. Based in Sadler’s Yard in the fast-developing NOMA district of the city, around Victoria Station, this is an elegant space, with a relaxed Scandinavian feel.
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1NA - Visit now
The Bay Horse is another lucky beneficiary of the wise decision to close various Manchester streets to vehicles, meaning Thomas Street is now peppered with tables and benches, safe for socially-distanced drinking and a great way to catch up with friends in these trying times.
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2EQ - Visit now
Port Street Beer House is open again for drinks, inside and out. But it’s the out that shines: a great sun-splashed beer garden, cosy enough to be friendly but spacious enough to feel safe and relaxed. And let’s not forget the beer. You’ll struggle to find a better choice of ales in Manchester.
Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1NA
High above Thomas Street, Terrace NQ offers a beautiful rooftop beer garden. When the sun is shining, this is easily one of the most pleasing places to sink a pint in the Northern Quarter.
Marble Arch Pub, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 4HY - Visit now
It’s not the biggest outdoor drinking space in the world, but it’s an exceptionally nice one and the beer here is so good that we’re willing to overlook this. This much-loved local favourite reopens on the 8th August.
The Beech, 72 Beech Rd, Manchester, M21 9EG
If you fancy moving out of town, jump on the Metrolink and head to Chorlton. While the residents are often lampooned as the “liberal urban elite”, you cannot argue with the choice of watering holes on offer. Post-lockdown, The Beech is a grand choice if you fancy switching seats to chase the late evening sun.
The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now
Tariff Street has been closed off to cars and now you can sit outside and enjoy a drink safely, with minimal exhaust fumes. The Whiskey Jar is a great intimate, darkly-lit bar but it’s not ideal when it comes to socially-distanced boozing, so sit outside while the weather is still mostly balmy.
Flok, 5 Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN - Visit now
Starting life as a highbrow wine bar, Flok has become more of a catch-all destination lately, welcoming all kinds of drinkers to its space on Stevenson Square. Expect a great selection of drinks, lovable staff and a great outside atmosphere.