Places to drink in the Northern Quarter – this should be easy, right? Hmm, well kinda. There’s certainly no shortage in either the number of bars or the variety of the offer. However, the meteoric rise and rise of Manchester’s kind-of-independent Northern Quarter has brought with it some problems. With an EasyJet hotel on one side and an increasing number of glass towers bearing down from the other, this isn’t the enclave of artists and independents it was years ago.
The cat is out of the bag.
We still love the Northern Quarter, we work here and drink here as often as we can – some may say too often. However, at the weekends finding good places to drink in the Northern Quarter can be tricky down to the sheer popularity of the area. The last thing you want to be doing is walking from bar to bar in the rain, settling for the place with a free table.
Here then is our guide to the best places to drink in the Northern Quarter. From sticky-floored indie pubs to hipster microbreweries.
Here are our picks
Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LE - Visit now
Let’s start with a proper pub, The Castle Hotel has a 200 year-long history on Oldham Street and – like its sister venue Gullivers – it’s a hot spot for live gigs and music. This is by no means a big pub, finding a space can be tricky, especially if you planning on sneaking a crafty fag out back. We love it here though, it’s generally a good crowd and there are usually bands performing several times a week.
Common Bar, 39-47 Edge Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1HW - Visit now
Tucked away on the aptly named Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, Common is a favourite haunt of many in Manchester’s arts communities. The reason, essentially, is that everything they do is forward-thinking. From their top selection of beer to their rotating art exhibition to their array of poetry nights, musical performances and arts workshops, the bar do innovation well.
The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now
Aptly named, there’s several hundred whiskeys to picks from here. It’s hard to find a gap in a selection which seemingly takes in all corners of the globe – even Taiwan and India. The choice of Scotch here as extensive as you’ll find anywhere in Manchester. They have regular tasting events and their jazz night is great too.
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2EQ - Visit now
Port Street Beer House is one of Manchester’s best choice locations for the beer aficionado. With an ever-changing selection of ales and staff who really know their stuff. They have all of the best beers here; from your pleasant thirst-quenching Flensburger, to thirty-five-pound-ten-percent-plus bottles of stout and everything in between.
Beatnikz Republic, 35 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 2HF - Visit now
Like Port Street, this is another great choice for beer enthusiasts and those open to trying something new. Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. is a microbrewery based in Manchester who opened this Northern Quarter bar in 2018. We’ve enjoyed all kinds of beers here; from brightly coloured, fruit-infused sours, to smoked coffee porters.
Northern Monk Refectory, 10 Tariff St, Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now
The Leeds-based brewery took over this superb Northern Quarter spot from Kosmonaut. The taproom – as we call things these days – has a wonderful choice of beers and the cobbled rear alleyway/beer garden feels kind of magical on a summers eve.
Cane & Grain, 49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1NA - Visit now
From the makers of Black Dog Ballroom and Liars Club, we have Cane & Grain. And they don’t do things by halves. Behind the unassuming entrance, there are no less than three bars, each with their own unique drinks menus. The ground floor bar has a youthful skater feel, but the true secret-seekers will want to check out the first-floor speakeasy.
Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Manchester, M1 1DF - Visit now
Soup Kitchen is a superb communal cafe by day and an excellent live music venue by night. The perfect choice for lunch or a great night out. Head downstairs in the evenings into the pleasingly scuzzy-looking basement for some of Manchester’s best gigs and club nights.
Bar Fringe, 8 Swan Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JN
Is this is Northern Quarter bar, or is it an Ancoats bar? Who cares? Before the developers moved in and turned Ancoats into a Fjallraven-clad utopia, this was very much considered a Northern Quarter bar. Head here for pre and post Band on The Wall drinks.