If there’s one thing Manchester does well, it’s pubs. And we’re talking pubs of all colours and stripes, from the classic old man pub brought up to date for the 21st century, to more modern-thinking public houses with a focus on ever-more weird and wonderful craft ales. You’ll find them everywhere, but as you’d expect the Northern Quarter makes a strong showing, with a few newer entries from Ancoats and the NOMA area of Manchester.
But what’s an indie pub? Rather than being a place where Oasis and The Stone Roses are blared out on repeat (though you’ll certainly find a hint of that in some, we’re not shy about our peerless music CV), it’s a pub that has an independent spirit. Nothing too fancy, you won’t find any social media influencers here posing for Instagram shots, though you might find a few dogs dozing under tables. It’s a style that borrows from the past – expect plenty of exposed brickwork and a nice range of beers and spirits – but has a very modern feel to it. Head upstairs or to the backroom and you’ll find anything from spoken word nights, to impromptu live gigs, all with a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.
Basically, when people say “the spirit of Manchester” they mean somewhere friendly but always forward-thinking, and that’s what each of these pubs represent. Sure, Manchester has a reputation as one of the greatest clubbing cities in the world, but when it comes to pubs, we’re unbeatable.
Here are our picks
The Pilcrow, The Pilcrow, Sadler’s Yard, Hanover Street, NOMA, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 0AB - Visit now
Based in the fast-growing NOMA district, The Pilcrow combines that traditional pub feel with a modern look, making for one of the city’s truly forward-thinking pubs and well worth a lazy afternoon or three.
The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom street, Salford, Greater Manchester, M3 6AN - Visit now
More Salford than Manchester, though you wouldn’t realise it, being just a minute or two from the all-important Manchester-Salford border. The Kings Arms is a cultural hub which offers both great real ale and hearty pub food. The main bar is cosy and comfortable with trusty original pub furnishings and you’ll find a strong roster of events, for all tastes.
The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now
The Whiskey Jar is a bar on the edge of the Northern Quarter, and the perfect spot to enjoy a whiskey or two (or a pint) whilst lounging on a pleasingly worn Chesterfield.
Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LW - Visit now
Gullivers is all things to all men and women. Suitable for music-lovers with a fresh mix of comedy, theatre and the odd burlesque thrown in for good measure. It’s also ideal for cosy chats or a bit of people-watching. Grab a pint and wedge yourself into one of the windowed booths across from the bar.
Trof Northern Quarter, 8 Thomas St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1EU - Visit now
One of the most modern pubs on this list, Trof NQ manages to keep that classic public house vibe alive and kicking, while appealing to a younger audience. It looks great, the drinks are plentiful, and it’s a superb place to spend an afternoon.