Pubs and pints done differently
Manchester has been at the forefront of the craft-beer explosion – you’re never more than 10 feet from a microbrewery here – and Ancoats and the Northern Quarter have been the driving force.
The area prides itself on its independence and eccentricity, so it’s the perfect testing ground for mad new IPAs with weird names and cool logos.
Deansgate and Spinningfields offer slickness, shininess and pricy cocktails, but the vibe in Ancoats and the Northern Quarter is more laidback, more shabby-chic. This isn’t some snooty hipster ghetto, though – you’re not going to be laughed out of a bar for not wearing the right trainers.
It wasn’t always like this
Back in the early noughties you wouldn’t have ventured much further down Oldham Street than Matt and Phreds Jazz Club. The Northern Quarter – the bit worth visiting, anyway – was maybe a quarter of size it is today. Ancoats, meanwhile, was a desolate no-man’s land.
Nowadays, though, the area is absolutely teeming with cool bars, coffee shops and restaurants – and new places open every month. It’s been amazing to see the change happen right before your eyes.
My three must-visit bars
Se7en Brothers Beerhouse
This Ancoats bar is run by the Salford Quays-based brewery of the same name – although you’re not limited to their beers, or even to beer at all. Relaxed, minimal surroundings and a ‘creative types’ post-work crowd.
The Marble Arch
If you like your pubs comfy and unpretentious, this beloved Ancoats boozer is for you. But while the décor’s distinctly old-skool, the drink (and food) options are anything but – to be expected, given that it’s run by Manchester’s cutting-edge Marble Brewery.
Who says the Northern Quarter can’t do glam? Cottonopolis has established itself as one of the city’s hottest weekend spots, with its Japanese-inspired interior striking the perfect balance between upmarket and chilled.