01. The Washhouse
Catering for all of your laundry needs, gather your loose change for a night at The Washhouse. Moonlighting as a laundrette, The Washhouse is one of those venues you typically see at the movies. Push through the door (ignore the man washing his clothes) and head straight for the phone on the wall. Once you’ve pressed the button and the other person picks up, let them know you’ve got some dirty washing that needs a good clean (seriously). After you’ve done all of that, you’re ready to enter the illicit bar through the large washing machine door… it’s almost Narnia-esque (and you may even meet a few surprise characters). The Washhouse is dark, cosy and speakeasy – a running theme in Manchester. The booths are leather cladded, with refined table service. Things get a little dirty and exciting at the venue, in the form of the extensive cocktail collection – Wanky Bartender a particular one to sample – and the deep house DJ playing in the corner. This is where Manchester earns its cool rep.
02. Dusk Til Pawn
Get more than you bargained for at Dusk Til Pawn, quite literally. Behind the unusual exterior of a pawn shop, this bar is speakeasy heaven. Taking you all the way back to the 20s on your stag or hen weekend, it’s a heady mix of Great Gatsby house party and cosy cocktail den – with a rich history to boot. Once a fortune teller’s den, the bar is as mysterious as its past, featuring cocktails with rare ingredients and olde-worlde antiques – including a signed Billy Ocean jukebox - from unknown owners... The innovative drinks, all inspired from the productions of the Prohibition, are impressive and change every so often – popular (and lethal) cocktails such as Brass Balls, Hard Core Pawn and A Million Dollars, a twist on the classic Old Fashioned, are stalwarts at this place.
03. Late-night Bowling
Bowling has just grown-up. Dog Bowl is the home of after dark bowling, a brilliant New York style venue – with sister bars all over the city – that has come to claim your stag or hen weekend. The unique venue serves up Tex-Mex style dishes, alongside a speakeasy bar and five, ten-pin bowling lanes. The ball dispensers are even trendy to the highest possible standard – inspired by the bar’s own black dog, Bruce the Potterdale Terrier. The kitchen is open until 1am, and you can gorge on pizzas, burgers and hotdogs to soak up their exciting cocktails. Here’s to the Land of the Free…
04. Booze and Burgers
Beer, cocktails and burgers – it’s a recipe for any good stag or hen weekend. Set in an apartment-style building, up the narrow staircase in the Greater Northern Warehouse, Almost Famous sits high above Manchester. It’s known for immortalising ‘dirty food’, serving huge burgers – including the Filthiest Show in Town – ‘crack wings’, fries covered in bacon, cheese, onions and anything else they can find in the cupboards. There’s no denying that Almost Famous is ‘famous’ for their meat, but the jam jar cocktails deserves a mention of its own. Bitch Juice and Gin Floozy, in particular, have earned a special shout out.
05. Cane & Grain
Beer, bourbon and ribs – a relationship that’s as beautiful as it tastes. Cane & Grain is three floors of meaty and alcohol goodness, and a relative secret to visitors of Manchester. It has an unadulterated air of quiet cool and confidence, with each floor providing easy access to the biggest attraction, The Rib Shack. The Ground Floor is the Rib Joint & Tap Room (where that relationship comes into play), and has over 60 craft beers and healthy measures of rum and bourbon available. Moving on up to the first floor bar – part speakeasy and skate park… - you enter through a hidden door made up of old wooden beer crates, and guarded by a host. Stretch those legs even further to the final floor, The Liar’s Lounge. This is Tiki-paradise, with a side of Zombie… made up of rum, jungle juice and fire – and one of the most lethal drinks to ever pass the Alcohol Commission.
06. The Fitzgerald
Evidently, The Great Gatsby’s second home was The Northern Quarter… and this bar keeps his memory alive. Just like the prohibition bars during the roaring 20s, the air of mystery surrounding The Fitzgerald is tangible. The entrance is tucked away down a back alley, hidden away from prying eyes, and is as dark, moody and atmospheric as you’d expect. It channels the glamorous era through the crushed velvet, dark wood furniture and flickering candles, all the way to the signature cocktails, cut glassware, live jazz bands and DJs playing every weekend.
07. Hold Fast
Hold fast and let loose at… Hold Fast. This is Manchester’s resident nautical-themed den (boat?), scattered with maritime antiques and killer (whale) cocktails. Inspired by the tales of Jules Verne, the author of Around the World in 80 Days, and the mighty ocean – this stormy Manchester bar is a pearl in the mean streets, featuring stark interior based on the cabins of an old wooden ship. Sample the Slippery Squid (vodka, not fish), the Captain Cook Bramble Ramble and Colombus Courage in the secret bar, set directly under the Hatters Hostel and in a former bowler factory.
08. Junk Shop
Vintage clothing is as much a part of Manchester as Oasis is. The Northern Quarter is the centre of all things quirky and alternative in the city, and Junk is at the beating heart of it. Junk is, literally, a collection of all things old and unique – 1970s typewriters, handmade dresses, costume jewellery, designer bargains, handbags… the list goes on. The interior also boasts that same ethos to recyclable materials; kitted out in bric-a-brac antiques, vintage furniture, cake tins and even a walk-in wardrobe that doubles up as the store’s changing rooms. Your mother’s hand me downs never looked so fashionable.
09. Soup Kitchen
Nope, you’re not doing voluntary work... Soup Kitchen is a giant in Manchester. This award-winning place is a canteen, bar and music venue – right in the eclectic Northern Quarter. The kitchen serves delicious food – crammed between strangers and friends onto long benches in an old warehouse - accompanied by an extensive wine list, and transforms into a late-night club at night. Gigs, club nights, international and local bands, parties, films nights and comedy events take over two massive floors – all hidden behind one tiny door on the corner of a street. It’s unexpected (to say the least), and has even claimed the title of Best Live Music Venue in the city.
10. Underground Manchester
Lying in wait, just below Manchester’s busy streets, sits a labyrinth of tunnels. The subterranean passageways stretch for miles, containing a tube station that never was, air raid shelters, bunkers, canals and shops. The tunnels date back hundreds of years, and are some of the spookiest secrets in the city. It’s even been said that strange noises have been heard from way underground… However, if you are a brave soul – you can explore this below-level network with a range of eerie walks and tours on your stag or hen weekend, held all over the city.
11. The Richmond Tea Rooms
A scene straight out of a Tim Burton film, The Richmond Tea Rooms caters to all of your typically British fancies. The OTT décor is exactly that; gold chandeliers, intricate wallpaper, plush velvet chairs, old antiques, ticking clocks of The White Rabbit and chess board walls – all served with afternoon tea and cocktails. In fact, it’s so outrageous – a girl jumping through a giant hole wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. Tea may be the bread and butter of the café, but English-inspired cocktails do the rounds and get you good and drunk before heading back into the city (and out of the rabbit hole).
So... now you know the secrets, Manchester is a pretty good option for your hen party. Are we right? You can find out even more on the city with our hen weekends page.