The Best Places for Cheap Cocktails in Manchester, England

With Manchester's vibrant bar scene, finding the perfect budget cocktail bar couldn’t be easier
With Manchester's vibrant bar scene, finding the perfect budget cocktail bar couldn’t be easier | © Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Simon Bland
13 August 2020

Nothing clues you into the vibe of a city quite like a night on the tiles – and in Manchester there’s a spot to suit any mood or budget. From pint-fuelled pub crawls across the Northern Quarter’s beard-stroking craft beer scene, to an evening of glitz, glamour and cocktails at Spinningfield hangouts frequented by world-famous football stars – partygoers are truly spoiled for choice in this UK city. But what if you’re looking for the best of both worlds?

With plenty of cosy hole-in-the-wall pubs, hipster rooftop gardens and off-the-beaten-track gems, finding the perfect budget cocktail bar couldn’t be easier. Here are some spots where you can enjoy the best cheap cocktails in Manchester while keeping the vibes flowing and your wallet full. Let’s dive in!

Crazy Pedro's

Pizzeria, Restaurant, British
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Crazy Pedros Bar and Pizza Parlour in Manchester
© jackie ellis / Alamy Stock Photo

Crazy Pedro’s is best known for its over-the-top New York-style pizzas boasting odd toppings like waffles, baked beans and pies, but this popular parlour bar also features a range of bargain cocktails. Its staff members know a thing or two about mixology too – with both their sleazy-styled Deansgate and Northern Quarter venues housing Manchester’s largest collections of mescal and tequila. Drop by between 5pm and 9pm, Sunday to Friday, and you can enjoy their 2-for-1 happy hour, which gets you two drinks for just £8. Will it be the refreshing LCD Swizzle with gin and watermelon, or their lemon and Patrón Blanco bust-up, Hulk Smash? The choice is yours.

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The Font

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American
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Perhaps the go-to bar for cheap cocktails in Manchester, the Font is legendary for its extensive range of colourful and boozy treats available from as little as £3. This bargain price point – combined with its proximity to Oxford Road and the city’s two universities – makes Font extremely popular with students, who can often be found kick-starting their night with a zingy, vodka-powered Jelly Tot Sour (£4) or a fruity Solero (£5) that – you guessed it – tastes just like its ice lolly counterpart. Even Font’s priciest cocktails will only set you back £6, and their sticky-floor aesthetic and indie hit-heavy soundtrack makes it the perfect place for a lazy pre-gig drink.

The Pen and Pencil

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, American, British, $$$
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The Pen and Pencil Eatery in the Northern Quarter of Manchester
© jackie ellis / Alamy Stock Photo
You don’t have to look far to find a cool pub in the Northern Quarter, but if you’re after a nifty cocktail deal, get yourself to chic restaurant and bar The Pen and Pencil on Hilton Street. From 5pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday, you can get two of their extravagant cocktails for the bargain price of £12. Their Chocolate Orange Cheesecake is sure to satisfy those with a sweet tooth thanks to its combination of Tanqueray Sevilla gin, chocolate liqueur, fresh cream and mascarpone – while the East 45 Martini offers earthier tones with a subtle hint of rosemary. Whatever you pick, it’s bound to go down well in this sleek and stylish city-centre spot.

The Deaf Institute

Nightclub, Bar, Wine, Cocktails, Beer, Pub Grub, Fast Food, $$$
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Located just outside of town near Manchester Metropolitan University, the Deaf Institute is a staple of the city’s all-important live-music scene. Upstairs, you’ll find its gig space – a cosy, dome-roofed amphitheatre that’s welcomed countless artists and musicians. Downstairs, you’ll find its lazy cafeteria-style bar, usually full of thirsty scholars enjoying drinks in the venue’s booths and bench seating. Their Cold Brew Negroni features a caffeinated take on a cocktail classic at £7.25, while the boozy and fruity Bana-Colada is even cheaper at just £6.50. Certainly a-peeling.

El Capo

Restaurant, Mexican, Central American, Vegetarian, Street Food, $$$
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People enjoying a drink outside El Capo bar located on Tariff Street in the Northern Quarter area of Manchester.
© Russell Hart / Alamy Stock Photo
Mexican street food and cocktail bar El Capo is proof that good things come in small packages. With its glowing neon crucifix hanging behind the bar, lo-fi red brick walls and cosy, Day-of-the-Dead–themed seating space featuring skull illustrations on pretty much every surface – it’s an ideal place to escape the bustle of the Northern Quarter for a cheap and cheerful cocktail. Fruity gin joint Cocktail With No Name and the candy-floss–garnished Sugar Mama are both just £7.50 – but it’s El Capo’s signature margaritas featuring El Jimador Blanco tequila that really deserve your attention.

Yes

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Pizzeria, Pub, Nightclub, Snacks
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A music venue, bar, and cheap-eats spot, Charles Street venue Yes opened its doors in 2018 and quickly became a mecca for hipster crowds looking to catch tomorrow’s must-see band in its oh-so-Instagrammable Pink Room. Once you’re done snapping this entirely pink space, head on up to their top floor, where you’ll find a leafy rooftop terrace and their pre-batched Negronis and Old Fashioneds, which are available on tap, daily. If they’re not your thing, don’t worry. Yes’s fourth-floor bar prides itself on its vermouth-inspired creations, with an ever-changing menu that’s full of surprises. Looking for the pulse of the city? You’ll find it here.

Bunny Jacksons

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
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Bunny Jacksons Manchester
© Dan Highton / Alamy Stock Photo
Over on First Street near Oxford Road station and covered from floor to ceiling in skate stickers and twinkly fairy lights is Bunny Jacksons – part rough-and-ready sports bar, part dive music venue, part chicken wing kitchen. In fact, it’s this last feature that put it on the Manchester map due to its proclivity to dish out 10p wings – much to the pleasure of hungry visitors. Its cocktail menu is great too, with ice-cold slush daiquiris available in both strawberry and passion fruit flavours for £6.50 and Old Fashioned Fridays giving customers a whiskey hit for just £5 between 4pm and 7pm.

Common

Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Located in the heart of the Northern Quarter on Edge Street, nestled just behind the area’s bustling main drag on Thomas Street, Common Bar is a favourite of city-centre crowds. As one of the longest-running pubs in the area, it has started many a night out with its chilled vibes, cask ales and cheap booze before nursing plenty of hangovers with its thrifty brunch offering. However, it’s cocktails that we’re after here, and Common Bar doesn’t disappoint with a range of drinks available from just £7.50. Looking for a place to start? Their Espresso Martini is sure to kick things into gear at just £8.50.

These recommendations were updated on August 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.