Bars on Barlow Moor Road

12 Days of Manchester: Four is the average cost in pounds of a pint in Manchester city centre

  • Manchester has become a more expensive place to drink
  • Treny bars in the Northern Quarter put average price up
  • Part of a series on Manchester's culture to entertain you over the break

According to the i newspaper, the average cost of a pint of beer in Manchester is £3.93

Though hardly the most expensive place in the UK, it’s still a dramatic change from even 10 years ago when three pounds for a pint was a bit steep.

So, why does it cost so much and what are the best places to go drinking in central Manchester?

To answer the first question, you only need to look at tourism. Manchester holds two of the biggest football teams in the world, is the country’s northern hub for broadcast media and has a rich cultural history, especially for music.

All this means that demand is high for space in the city centre. If you want to open a bar there, you will have to pay a lot of money. Demand is high for drinks as well, people will come to Manchester and people will drink and so businesses can charge more without worrying about a loss of custom.

Temple Bar Manchester
The temple bar is a renovated underground Victorian toilet. Credit: Keith Williamson

The Northern Quarter, formerly an old industrial site, has been largely renovated into a trendy space for modern or themed bars and clubs over the past two decades, and sitting comfortably between Victoria and Piccadilly, Manchester’s two main train stations, attracts a lot of wandering traffic.

People coming back into the city centre from a match at the Etihad (City) will essentially go through the Northern Quarter, so it has become a popular place to drink. Alternatively, people returning from a match at Old Trafford (United) often end up at the Deansgate Locks, which doesn’t have the same charm as the Northern Quarter but also plays host to a few trendy bars.

So, where are some good places to drink if you are visiting, or have just moved to Manchester?

Night & Day has been in the headlines in the last few years as it was threatened with closure over its noise license. The story seems to have gone away and the bar is still open, so it would seem to be sorted now. Inside, the bar has a large host of drinks but is also a fairly well known gig venue – its raised stage has played host to many up-and-coming bands and the sound quality in the bar is great.

The Castle Hotel and Gullivers have a similar vibe, but their live rooms are seperate from the pub so you can go in and drink without needing to pay for the entertainment, if you so wish.

The Eagle Inn, a bit further into Salford, is owned by the same people and also has a live room and comes across as a very hipster-y pub. It has the charm of an old pub and yet its live room, complete with balcony is used to hold various performances as well as band nights. Spoken word poetry and plays are often held here.

Bars on Portland Street
The Circus Tavern, third from left, advertises itself as the smallest pub in Europe. Credit: Adam Bruderer

The Old Abbey Taphouse is located in the middle of the Science Park which is situated behind the University of Manchester. If you can find your way to this strange location, you could be in for a treat. They don’t have a huge selection of drinks, however they usually have a couple of locally brewed casks on, but the welcome is more what you go there for. The pub has an event practically every night of the week as they can’t rely on passing traffic, so they have quiz nights, poker nights, board game nights, open mics, jam nights as well as the usual band and club nights at the weekend.

If you don’t need entertainment, and simply require a good drink there are some bars interesting enough for their own sake in Manchester. The Temple Bar is the pick of the bunch. Situated on Oxford Road, the bar is a renovated Victorian toilet, underground. The bar is tiny and yet they pack a lot of character into the space. If you like small pubs, the Circus Tavern on Portland Street advertises itself as the smallest pub in Europe.

On the other end of the scale, Manchester also plays host to the biggest Wetherspoons in the country, the Moon Under Water on Deansgate, though I don’t seriously recommend the place. If you have a thing for heights, then Cloud 23 is a bar located in Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building. The bar also has a glass floor to increase those feelings of vertigo. Be warned, you may need to re-mortgage your house to buy a drink in this place.

There are plenty of nice bars further afield in Manchester, but I would suggest you do your own exploring once out of the city centre. Chorlton and Whalley Range have seen a rise in bars opening in recent times, similarly to the Northern Quarter and Salford Quays has an interesting aesthetic, being where Media City is located.

Shambles Square
The Old Wellington and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar, just off Exchange Square in Manchester. Credit: David Dixon