Top 10 Cocktail Bars in Manchester

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Did you know that Manchester has three cocktail bars within the top 15 Cocktail Bars’ list in the UK? Neither did we. Not only that, Schofield’s Bar sits at number one on that list and is a must visit for anyone who likes to indulge in the very best. Cocktails are perfect for a pre-dinner aperitif, a post dinner nightcap or just because you fancy a bit of pampering on a Saturday lunch time. The best mixologists have trained for years, use the finest ingredients, and like to push the cocktail chemistry to serve up something new. There’s plenty of decent cocktail bars to try strewn across Manchester; some in dimly lit basements, a few at the top of Manchester’s growing skyline and we found some cheaper deals so you can indulge guilt free.Here's’s pick of the best cocktail bars in Manchester, starting with the best in the UK…

Schofield’s Bar

Schofield's Bar

Sunlight House, 3 Little Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JZ

This cocktail bar is special in every sense.  It’s housed in the striking Grade II listed Sunlight House building on Quay Street and for a long time was the tallest building in Manchester. This 1930’s art deco building is a fitting space for Schofield’s Bar. Owned and run by two brothers, Joe and Daniel Schofield, who had a vision to return to their home city to open a cocktail bar.  The brother’s 30 years+ experience has really paid off earning them the accolade of being the Best Cocktail Bar in the UK 2024. It’s a beautifully sophisticated bar with its dark blue walls, wooden bar and bottles of every type adorning the glass backed cocktail cabinet   The Bury born brothers specialise in mixing classics from the 1930’s – the golden age of cocktails – and we highly recommend you try the Manhattan – using Maker’s Mark SCHOFIELD’s Private Select bourbon, Vermouth and bitters. The Harvey Wallbanger also packs a punch with its Wyborowa Vodka, Galliano and vanilla topped with orange juice. There are over 18 cocktails to choose from and all are made with exquisite precision and priced at £13.50, so won’t break the bank. The difficult part will be deciding what to try next. 

Peckish? There’s a nice selection of snacks to keep you going including a British Cheese Selection – with the option to try the Sandeman 2018 unfiltered vintage Port to go with it, and the British Charcuterie plate with a Tio Diego Sherry optional accompaniment.

You can book a table here

Speak in Code

a dimly lit cocktail basement bar
Speak in Code

7 Jackson's Row, Manchester M2 5ND

Speak in Code was born five years ago, starting life as a pop-up in a shared space, and has just bagged a spot in the top 15 Best Cocktail Bars in the UK.  Positioned in the heart of Spinningfields, it’s established a great reputation in the city not only for its New York vibe and to-die-for cocktail flavours, but also for its commendable ethics – using entirely plant based products and a steadfast reduce, reuse and recycle approach.  The atmos. is super friendly, warm and you’ll find it hard to leave this cosy drinking den.  The cocktail list has over 15 drinks listed and each one is made with dedication and love. Our favourites include: The Ivy which is served in a bowl and made from sundried tomato, washed Portobello Road London dry gin, tonic lime cordial and topped with, wait for it… a Papa-Damn.  Talk about inventive! The Speak in Code Calada with its Aluna toasted coconut rum, Aduki infused cacoa blan, condensed milk served in a tall glass with pineapple leaves will transport you quickly to the blamy Caribbean.  We also liked Track 9. Using Discarded grape skin vodka, FAIR Kumquat, Pampelle amaro, Pink grapefruit and comes served with a stunning pink flower stencilled into the white foam.  So, sit back, sink into an armchair and soak up SiC’s Hip Hop tunes.

Opening hours are Friday – Saturday 5pm – 2am and on Sunday it closes at 12am.

You can book a table here


1 New York Street, Manchester M1 4HD

This wonderfully dimly lit cocktail bar and restaurant is well-known in Manchester and there are over three Alchemist bars to choose from across the city. Their cocktails are a feast for the eyes, and you’ll definitely want to experiment.  There’s so many Chemistry and Theatre cocktails to choose from but we think the French Kiss Ketel One Vodka based choice, with its popping candy and dark berries, will get you off to a flying start. The Bubble Bath laced Tanqueray Gin, Aperol, Violette, Blueberry, Citrus. Fairy Liquid – yep, that’s what the menu says – is another of our faves.   If you get hungry, there are mouth-watering morsels like chorizo and cheddar doughballs, piquante peppers and Smoking Boards, to accompany your cocktail(s) of choice.

You can book a table here

20 Stories

20 Stories

No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB

The bar and Ibiza style open terrace at 20 Stories offers one of the best views of the city and is a popular eating a drinking spot in the city, come hail, rain or shine.  After you shoot up the glass fronted lift to the 20th floor, you’ll find a large inviting bar to the right-hand-side located between two dining areas. Bar Manager, Jack Marsden, mixes up a great line-up of cocktails, including the Manchester Tart Punch (we have to mention it).  It’s a fruity tiple with a Havana Club 7yr rum together with raspberry, Maraschino cherry liquor, lemon, apple and vanilla foam.  And just because it’s Manchester, we like the aptly named Solero with its Ciroc, passionfruit, mango, peach, coconut and pineapple. It’ll get you through any rainy day! The restaurant also serves up a good selection of seasonal dishes if you’re feeling a bit peckish, but recommend booking in advance.

You don’t need a reservation to have a cocktail

You can make a dinner booking here

The Ivy Manchester

The Brighton Cocktail Company

The Ivy Spinningfields Manchester, Byrom Street, Manchester M3 3HG, UK

The Ivy Manchester opened to much fanfare 3 years ago and it’s now tricky to get a table. But we think the two-story building in the heart of Spinningfields is worth the effort. It’s got a lively atmosphere and a great place to get dressed-up and get noticed; so get your heals and red lippy at the ready. Needless to say, it’s also a good spot for a cocktail or two at the mirrored central bar or on top of the Ivy Roof Garden.  The Ivy’s mixologists serve up Seasonal Classics such as The Ivy Martini, Honey Bee Margarita and a rather special Rose & Rhubarb Negroni.  We also enjoyed the Contemporary Foxhound cocktail with Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru, Gentian, strawberry, lime and grapefruit soda - perfect for those warm summer nights.   There are three restaurants to choose from at Ivy Manchester including:  The Ivy Asia; The Brasserie or The Ivy Roof Garden – depending on how you’re feeling and which choice of outfit you’ve plumped for.

You can book a table here

Cloud 23

Stock Exchange Cocktail Club

Hilton Deansgate, Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ

Cloud 23 is perched on top of the Beacon Tower which makes it one of the original sky-high cocktail bars in Manchester.   It’s got great views across Manchester’s growing skyline courtesy of its floor-to-ceiling windows, and you can grab a cocktail from the bar, sink into a bucket chair and watch the world go by.  They’ve got a tempting line-up of handcrafted cocktails, each inspired by the legendary gods of Greek mythology, and Cloud 23’s mixologists.  We like zesty (and strong!) Hercules mixed with Havana 7, Melondae, Poire William, watermelon, apple and pineapple. Urania is tangier and more aromatic, mixed with Tanqueray Royal, Lemon, Creme de Cassis, Thyme, Italicus and Blueberry.   Expect prices to be heftier than your average cocktail bar but we think the views are worth it.  You can also try Cloud 23’s Afternoon Tea with your cocktail or a refreshing glass of bubbles.

We recommend booking in advance as the bar gets pretty rammed at peak times, but they do accept walk-ins.

You can book a table here

Project Halcyon

Alcohol bottles behind a black cage and backlit
Project Halcyon

Bonded Warehouse, Lower Byrom St, Manchester M3 4AP

Project Halcyon Distillery is a brilliant cocktail bar set against the backdrop of a turn of the century illicit warehouse blues bar. It’s placed in the heart of Manchester on Lower Byrom Street and, as the name denotes is a distillery offering an exciting and innovative seasonal cocktail menu, Craft spirits and liqueurs produced onsite. The cocktail menu is separated into five original areas – Challenge, Wisdom, Conflict, Love and Age.

Our favourites include: The Same Coin (Conflict) a mix of Mezcal, Sipello, plum black rice, citrus and verdita; and Halcyon Days, in the Love section, which mixes their own Halcyon gin together with blackberry and tarragon. Did we mention that this cocktail bar was inventive?!  Finally, why not wrap it up with a Great Oaks (Incredible things develop with time) – a unique blend of Chivas Regal, butternut, sage ice cider and juniper smoke.

If you feel like you want to impress your friends at home with your own creations, why not enrol in Halcyon’s cocktail masterclasses, immersive masterclass sessions distilling spirits as well as spirit tastings.

You can book a table here


Sarah Kirton

2 S King St, Manchester M3 2BQ

Arcane is a well respected bustling cocktail bar in the basement of Manchester’s historic Queens Chambers building on the upmarket King Street. The bar’s retained its original Victorian features mixed modern exposed brick-work and dark wooden furniture. The basement’s chilled and reflect owners’ Mark Taylor and Gary Kilroy, friends for the best part of three decades, vision to bring something creative yet unpretentious to the Manchester bar scene.  Judging by the quality of their cocktails, we think they’ve achieved what they set out to deliver.  Their cocktails are inventive and they’re more than happy to mix up the drink you’re after.   We highly recommend the Rhubarb and Vanilla made with Portobello Vanilla Vodka, Lemon, Rhubarb and topped with Prosecco.  Prices are a reasonable £11.50 so you’ll have spare change to squeeze in another.

You can book a table here

The Wharf

lots of people standing outside the pub drinking by the canal in the sunshine
The Wharf

The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Castlefield Manchester M15 4ST

The Wharf is a large well-known spot in the Castlefield area of Manchester city centre. It overlooks the canal and has a large seating area – perfect for those long summer days.  It’s a large place with a pub downstairs and restaurant upstairs. There’s also an expansive terrace which is a popular spot when the rain stops and offers nice views over the canal basin.   The Mooring outside bar is perfect for enjoying a cocktail or 2 including espresso martinis and frozen margaritas.  With over 40+ gins and over 50 malt whiskies there’s a good selection of sprits to serve up pretty much anything you’re looking for.  Hungry - The Wharf’s daily food menu has all the favourites including – steak, ale and mushroom pie, fish and chips, steak burgers and there’s a good selection of steaks from the grill.