Once a simple shot of vodka topped with fruit juice and grenadine, cocktails have graduated into literal works of art – with many bartenders in Manchester adapting an ‘if you can’t Instagram it, it’s shit’ approach to every drink they serve. And we’re definitely not complaining. It gives us plenty of content to prove that we ‘have a life’, and we can finally say that we actually like cocktails, rather than begrudgingly necking nauseating Woo Woo’s a la 2001. We’re worth more than that, and so are you – which is why we’ve rounded up the very best bars in Manchester to try interesting, quirky cocktails this summer, not a dash of grenadine in sight. Phew.
New in Spinningfields, Alcotraz is Manchester’s new (and unusual) prison-themed cocktail experience. Following major success in both London and Brighton, the new venue allows guests to don their very own orange jumpsuit, before being led to their cell where a fellow ‘inmate’ will serve contraband cocktails away from the watchful eyes of the pesky wardens – think bottles of booze stashed in faux cellblock toilets and cocktails served in tins. The experience is rather theatrical, so perfect for entertaining mates when visiting the city. Alcotraz, 1A Watson St, M3 4EE.
2. The Alchemist
Long-known for their uber-creative cocktails, The Alchemist is the perfect spot for a refreshing cocktail, with an ever-extensive list of Instagrammable treats on the menu. We’re talking smoking cocktails, drinks served in chemistry set-style apparatus, and even those topped with bubbles. The Alchemist, 1 New York St, M1 4HD | 3 Hardman St, M3 3HF.
Moving to Spinningfields just this summer after taking up residence at Hatch, Clubhouse is well-known by this point for its quirky cocktails – many of which are topped with things that typically wouldn’t go in a cocktail. Think big old flump marshmallows, bags of Haribo, and even glow sticks. Boasting an outdoor terrace complete with fairy lights and party vibes, guests can enjoy Clubhouse’s new spot on Leftbank now. Clubhouse, Irwell Square, Unit A1/A2, Left Bank, M3 3AG.
Whether it’s Foodwell or Firefly you visit, this transformative venue is home to some pretty amazing cocktails. All perfectly presented in beautiful glassware, guests can enjoy seriously photogenic cocktails in all colours, topped with garnishes such as giant bubbles, fizzy rainbow belts, mack-off lumps of honeycomb and even chocolate-coated coffee beans. If that wasn’t all, the venue also hosts a weekly Sushi Supper Club, complete with live music, and of course, more cocktails. Foodwell/Firefly, Suite 2, Ground Floor, One New Bailey, Stanley St, M3 5JL.
5. The Liars Club
A seriously fun tiki bar found just off Deansgate, The Liars Club is home to some pretty fun cocktails – from those topped with rubber ducks (don’t ask, we’re into it!), to those literally on fire. Enjoy tropical, fruity flavours and Hawaiin vibes in the hidden hideaway underneath Crazy Pedro’s, with a lengthy and diverse cocktail menu to take advantage of. The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge St, M3 2PB.
6. The Liquor Store
While The Liquor Store has a ton of cocktails on offer that sound pretty bloomin’ tasty, they also have a number of showstopping concoctions on the menu that are perfect if you’re looking for something ‘Gram-worthy. We’re talking absolutely giant Pornstar Martinis (that you probably shouldn’t hog all to yourself), a refreshing cocktail jar topped with marshmallows and the Michelin Man (because why not?), and a huge glass filled with Espresso Martini. The Liquor Store, Maybrook House, 40 Blackfriars St, M3 2EG.
7. The Lawn Club
Launching some seriously cool cocktail sharers especially for the summer, guests at The Lawn Club can enjoy their drinks in some quirky apparatus – including Pimm’s served in a big, glass welly boot and Aperol Spritz in a watering can. Normal glasses are just so 2020. The Lawn Club, Hardman Square, Spinningfields, M3 3HG.
8. Twenty Twenty Two
A popular underground bar in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Twenty Twenty Two isn’t only great for a boozy game of ping pong, but it’s also great for quirky cocktails, too. From your typical sweets and fruits and quirky glassware, to those completely adorned in popcorn, there’s a little something for every palate on Twenty Twenty Two’s menu. Twenty Twenty Two, The Basement, Little Lever St, M1 1EZ.
9. Crazy Pedro’s
The Kings of all things crazy, it’s only fitting that Crazy Pedro’s has a few quirky cocktails on the menu. Usually reserving the kookiness for their pizza toppings, Crazy Pedro’s has lent a little of their signature charm to the cocktail menu, offering frozen Margs and agave cocktails topped with Fizz Wizz, cheery sweeties, and even limes stuffed with Skittles. Crazy Pedro’s, Short St, M4 1AA | 55-57 Bridge St, M3 3BQ.