Inside the secretive Chinatown pub that only serves Manchester bartenders after-hours

The Seven Oaks might look like a normal Northern boozer by day, but come nightfall it's a completely different picture.

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 23rd May 2023

If you’re a bartender in Manchester clocking off at 4am, there aren’t many pubs or city centre options available to you whatsoever if you fancy a post-shift drink. Almost.

Finish even one hour earlier and you can visit another industry-only bar in the Northern Quarter, which I have – on pain of death – sworn not to mention in print here. If you know, you know, and if you don’t, well that’s too bad.

Come 4am, though, there’s no amount of crying and pleading and ‘knowing the owners’ that will get you through that door. Which is why it’s always good to have a backup.

Yes, at this time in the morning, sometimes known as the ‘Devil’s hour’, there’s only one option open to thirsty hospitality workers – the secretive Chinatown-neighbouring pub known as The Seven Oaks.

A pokey little boozer a stone’s throw from Manchester Art Gallery, this no-frills watering hole acts as a haven in the wee hours for cranky bartenders wanting a stiff drink after their shift – and has been looking after them much longer than a certain NQ competitor.


During the day, the pub is a solid boozer showing sports round the clock that has jokingly referred to itself as a ‘husband creche’ where wives can drop off their grumbling other halves before enjoying a few hours of big city shopping in peace on more than one occasion.

They even host live music, stand-up comedy and even the odd theatre night these days. But come nightfall, it’s a completely different picture…


From 12am until well into the morning, if you’re nice enough to the staff — and so you bloody should be (these lot are so sound, anyway, it’s hardly a struggle) and speak to the right people, the let in other bartenders and other hospitality staff, exclusively, permitting one guest per worker.

Entry is gained not through the pub’s main entrance but via a side door leading off a dirty alleyway. You’ll need to get past the bins and make sure you’ve got a payslip to hand, because without one there’s no way you’re getting inside.

late night pubs for bartenders in manchester
They’re a good laugh, these lot.
manchester bartenders pubs
Credit: The Seven Oaks

According to former landlord Phil Greenwood, who left Seven Oaks over half a decade ago, the policy previously earned him a reputation as one of Manchester’s most ruthless pub bosses.


He previously told Vice: “People say I’m a bit of a gobby tw*t because I take no shit […] others tell me I have a messiah complex, but if people tell you you’re amazing enough times you’re going to start believing it.”

Now owned by Patrick Smith, the ‘two in one’ pub is an oasis for tired and skint staff — many of whom will have spent their night slinging out expensive drinks to office workers with cash to burn and a whole weekend off to enjoy.

Read more:

Inside, you’ll find all sorts rubbing shoulders: ranging from Wetherspoons pint-pullers to high-end cocktail bartenders, sommeliers, and brewery nerds. A sports bar by day, it’s not unusual to find the big screens still showing pre-recorded football matches at 7am.

All part of the charm, if you ever do make it down then our advice is to neck your tequila shots and pints and drink it all in. After all, what else is there to do if you’re still out drinking after the street cleaners finish work?


There really is nowhere else like The Seven Oaks anywhere in the city — especially if you’re a Manchester bartender and looking for a late-night pub.

For all the latest news, events and goings on in Greater Manchester, subscribe to The Manc newsletter HERE.

Featured Image – The Manc Eats