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Food & Drink Secret Guides

7 Of The Quirkiest Bars To Discover In Manchester

Laura Rogan Laura Rogan - Editor of Secret Manchester

7 Of The Quirkiest Bars To Discover In Manchester

Fancy something a little different this weekend?

Being as spoiled for choice as we are here in Manchester, our bar scene has completely evolved – with quirky bars popping up left, right and centre serving so much more than your average pint. From cocktails in a prison cell (yep, you read it right!) to totally hidden bars that lie underground, here’s our guide to the best quirky bars to discover in Manchester.

1. Alcotraz

Credit: Alcotraz

New in town and offering a unique approach to cocktails, Alcotraz is one of the quirkiest bars in town – thanks to its cellblock-style booths, orange jumpsuit dress code and contraband cocktails. Each cocktail is served in something inconspicuous, allowing guests to hide their bevs from the pesky wardens that patrol the block. The bar provides a fun, theatrical experience, that’s certainly different from anywhere else in town. Alcotraz, 1A Watson St, M3 4EE.

2. Behind Closed Doors

Credit: Behind Closed Doors

One of the Northern Quarter’s coolest hidden bars, Behind Closed Doors isn’t your average bar. Located behind an unsuspecting door on Oldham Road, guests are let down a dark staircase before reaching the speakeasy, with low mood lighting setting the tone of the venue. Debauchery (without the antics) is the overarching theme – with vintage telephones at each table, X-Rated content playing on the retro TVs, and naughty art featured throughout (in particular, in the bathrooms!). Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, M4 1LW.

3. Convenience Store

Credit: Convenience Store

While innocent bystanders may be mistaken in thinking this place is your average high street convenience store, it most definitely isn’t. Convenience Store NQ is everything we dream of in a local shop, cutting right to the chase and giving us what we really want: booze. Serving cold beer and cocktails in an American-style liquor store setting (which describes itself as ‘not another f**king Tesco Express), guests can knock back tasty cocktails topped with American cereals and candy, as well as bonkers twists on old classics. Convenience Store, 100-102 High St, M4 1HP.

4. The Washhouse

Credit: The Washhouse

Long known as one of Manchester’s most fun concepts, The Washhouse can be found behind a shop facade posing as a laundrette, with guests required to request ‘how many spins’ they would like on the phone before entering. After that, guests are led through a door that at first glance looks like a large washing machine, where they’re met with an industrial-style cocktail bar complete with plush leather seating and a cosy atmosphere. The Washhouse, 19 Shudehill, M4 2AF.

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5. The Temple

Credit: The Temple

Once a Victorian public toilet on Great Bridgewater Street, The Temple is now a quirky bar that lies underground, with pub-style decor, cosy lighting that reminds you you’re below surface level, and cold beers on tap. It’s a small, yet simple spot – the charm of which comes from its repurposed history – but it’s definitely one of the most unique spots in town if you’re looking for a change from your usual haunt. The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, M1 5JW.

6. NQ64

Credit: NQ64

NQ64 is a local favourite, tucked away down a little alley in the Northern Quarter. Cool and quirky before you even step inside, the bar has become well-known as a retro gaming paradise, with tons of nostalgia-inducing consoles, machines and tasty cocktails to enjoy during your visit. Craft beer fans will be pretty happy, too, with plenty of ever-rotating options on offer to try while you play ’til your heart’s content. NQ64, 9 Short St, M4 1AA.

7. Matt & Phred’s

Credit: Matt & Phreds

Hidden away behind an unsuspecting door in the Northern Quarter – like many of our favourite Manchester bars – Matt & Phred’s isn’t quirky in the sense that it’s trying to be ‘out there’ or ‘different’, but in the sense that it’s like stepping into another era when you walk through their doors, with the bar specialising in live jazz, funk and soul. Kick back in your very own 1920’s moment with a refreshing cocktail and pizza, while enjoying some of the UK’s finest jazz talent in an intimate setting. Matt & Phreds, 64 Tib St, M4 1LW.

Read more: 10 Of The Weirdest And Most Wonderful Burgers To Try In Manchester