…it’s time to try out some new places in Manchester! To make the weekend planning a little bit easier, we’ve rounded up the best hidden and secret bars that Manchester has to offer… If you can find them that is.
1. Behind Closed Doors
Discreetly placed between a body piercing shop and a t-shirt printers, although now known by many Northern Quarter regulars, Behind Closed Doors sits behind a seedy-looking door that could easily be mistaken for a private entrance to either of the shops next door. When you do find the door, guests are led down a suspicious staircase, decked out with XXX signs that could have you wondering if you’ve stumbled into the wrong place.
The basement speakeasy features old fashion décor with a sexy twist – with raunchy artwork dotted around the space and plastered all over the bathroom walls. Tables feature fully vintage rotary phones that can be used to call up the bar for a cocktail, the menu for which is worth getting a little tipsy for! Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LW
2. The Washhouse
The Washhouse has been around for a while, with hidden bar fans going wild for the theme. The exterior of the bar features a faux laundrette that to the average passerby would seem genuine, but fortunately, this place is more interested in spinning a good cocktail than the actual washing machines.
Guests are required to play along with the theme, and to get in must call up and make a booking using the service names on their website. Then, when you do arrive, you’ll find a phone on the wall where you’ll need to tell the operator you want to wash some dirty clothes. Only then can you go through the inconspicuous giant washing machine and enjoy the fun. The Washhouse, 19 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 2AF
3. 7 Sins
Although 7 Sins doesn’t claim to be hidden as such, the cocktail and gaming bar somehow has that feel to it. The industrial vibes with a touch of Mexicana make for a casual atmosphere to chill with friends and have a game of shuffleboard or two. Amongst Mancs, 7 Sins is pretty hush-hush, and its location on Lever Street in the Northern Quarter can render it a little hidden from sight.
Whether you’ve been past before and thought about it, or never even heard of it, this hidden gem is well worth a try – just make sure you don’t spread it around too much! 7 Sins, 43-45 Lever St, Manchester, M1 1FN.
4. Science & Industry
A long-time member of the secret bar scene in the city, Science & Industry is one of the city’s favourite speakeasies, completely hidden away behind a secret door in the Northern Quarter’s Cane & Grain. The door is pretty difficult to find, however, with it blending right in with the wood-panelled walls of the American-themed bar.
The mysterious hideaway is the perfect spot to sneak away from the NQ’s hustle and bustle, serving up an array of tasty cocktails and often having live acoustic acts throughout the week. It’s really one of the coolest hidden bars in Manchester. Science & Industry, Cane & Grain, 49 – 51 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1NA.
5. Dusk Til Pawn
Dusk Til Pawn is one of Manchester’s true hidden gems, with cocktails and more all hidden behind the facade of a pawn shop. There’s even stock in the windows sure to trick the casual observer!
The chic but understated speakeasy hidden behind the pawn shop’s barred doors offers up a great place to kick back and relax with a drink, with a free play jukebox, DJs playing on weekends and an extensive cocktail menu with plenty to try. Dusk Til Pawn, Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN
6. The Fitzgerald
Tucked away down the Northern Quarter’s back alleys that could easily be mistaken for a wrong-turn in New York, The Fitzgerald is a romantically lit speakeasy, specialising in cocktails, live music and of course a subtle Great Gatsby theme.
The bar is decked out with beautiful vintage décor and glassware and has a really chilled atmosphere – a great getaway from an otherwise busy Stevenson Square. Live jazz and blues can be caught on weekends before the lively bar transforms with DJs playing soul, disco and funk until the early hours. It’s really one of the main hidden bars at the heart of the Manchester speakeasy scene. The Fitzgerald, 11 Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DB.
7. Guilty By Association
Just across Stevenson Square, Guilty By Association serves up a whole host of cocktails, from classic espresso and porn star martinis, to weird and wonderful signatures including the Tinder Swizzler and Cosmic Swirl. Guilty also offers amazing cocktail slushies in pitchers, perfect for when the weather gets warmer and you just can’t stop dancing!
Inspired by the booming underground hip hop scene of New York during the 80’s and 90’s, they play the best of hip hop and R’n’B every night of the week, with resident DJ’s bringing you the best tracks from all eras until 3am every Friday and Saturday – it’s just a great place to be in amongst the bustle of the Northern Quarter. Guilty By Association, Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DW.
8. The Peer Hat
Tucked down a Northern Quarter backstreet, The Peer Hat isn’t so much purposely hidden as coincidentally enjoying the fruits of the word-of-mouth crowd. A real funky yet homely bar and venue, The Peer Hat has its quirks with church pew seating and rickety little rooms – and that’s why we love it. Bursting with character, visitors can dance the night away here to the fantastic tunes they always spin, with a craft beer or whiskey in hand. The Peer Hat, 14-16 Faraday St, Manchester M1 1BE.
9. Dear Sailor
It’s rare these days to have a genuinely covert new opening in Manchester, but one new bar that’s aiming to pull it off is Dear Sailor, Spinningfields’ latest (and most mysterious) addition. Although the opening has been pretty hush-hush, we do know that Dear Sailor is a beautiful cocktail bar inspired by the speakeasies and jazz bars of 1930s Tokyo.
Dancing on the furniture is allowed as long as you take your shoes off first, and guests are asked to leave the bar quickly and silently. Dear Sailor asks that you “do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests”… intriguing from one of the newest hidden bars in Manchester. Dear Sailor, 1 Spinningfields Square, Manchester M3 3AP.
A new speakeasy bar has arrived Manchester is Parla and it’s one to talk about. You’ll find this new opening located down in the basement level beneath vegan pizzeria in the Northern Quarter, Purezza. Parla is a queer bar, community project, vegan cocktail spot, and ‘super sexy space’ which will even be serving delectable plant-based dumplings from Desert Island Dumplings, whose creations include cheezeburger-filled dumplings and salt and pepper hash browns. Parla, 75-77 High St, M4 1FS.