If you want to hang out with Manchester’s hippest crowd, you should make a beeline for the Northern Quarter where hidden bars, legendary drinking dens and the coolest clubs can all be found. Centred on Oldham Street, a maze of small streets and secret alleyways contain a dizzying array of bars, some of which can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Here are six of the Northern Quarter’s best bars.
This popular drinking den underwent a recent makeover, transforming it into one of the area’s best eateries, although it also remains a solid choice for relaxed drinks. The interior is reminiscent of achingly hip Scandinavian hangouts; plenty of wood-cladding and alcoves perfect for hygge whilst remaining spacious enough to seat the huge crowds that gather here on weekends. In the evenings, keep your eyes peeled for events including themed pub quizzes, craft workshops and appearances from local DJs.
Despite only recently opening its doors, Jimmy’s has already become a firm fixture on any Northern Quarter bar crawl. The rock n’ roll themed bar offers ‘good beer, good music, good times’ as proclaimed by the lightbox that hangs over its door. The musician brothers who co-own it declare that they will be hosting intimate live musical performances and exclusive after-parties. An enticing red glow emits from low lighting inside, creating an atmosphere that’s always ready for a party, although there’s also a chilled out den downstairs with comfy Chesterfield sofas and a pool table.
Located on Oldham Street, in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Night & Day is legendary across the city due to its history. Since its opening in 1991, many of the biggest bands in the world have graced its infamous stage. The likes of Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and Elbow all played the venue early on in their careers, and many of the bands currently stopping off at the Night & Day on their touring circuit are tipped for stardom. Even on nights when no gigs are booked, the bar is a popular drinking den offering a no-nonsense atmosphere for laid back drinks.
If you’re searching for the cool crowd, this is where you’ll find them. Tucked away on Tariff Street, Kosmonaut offers two floors of seating with three large bars serving deliciously simple cocktails and craft beers. The basement bar regularly hosts pop culture quizzes, art exhibitions and other events whilst upstairs is the perfect place to settle into a booth for the night with a group of friends. Friday and Saturday nights are packed out thanks to a revolving rota of local DJ’s including the iconic Will Tramp.
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If cocktails are your thing, Hula offers some of the most colourful, flamboyant and alcoholic concoctions in the Northern Quarter. This Tiki-themed bar is accessed down a small staircase off Stevenson Square, with a tropical fish tank greeting you at the bottom. The Tiki theme is abundant throughout the bar, creating the impression that you’ve left the rainy city streets and have been transported to a tropical island. Expect lively crowds and late night dancing along with your Mai Tai’s.
Step inside Soup Kitchen during the day and you’ll likely be greeted by a scattering of hip young things tapping away on their laptops and tucking into the vegetarian food available from the canteen. Head here at night, however, and you’ll struggle to get a seat on one of the communal benches that fill the central space. This is one of the area’s best loved bars, renowned for its warm atmosphere and lively beats upstairs and live musical performances and late night DJ sessions in the grimy basement below.