At last, the boozers are open. Even better, we can finally sit inside them.
Hopefully, this means no more battling it out against the elements with our anoraks and brollies – although those scenes did make us very proud of our fellow Mancs’ commitment to their locals.
Still, if you’re planning a big one it can soon add up price-wise. Especially if you’re paying over a fiver per pint, which has pretty much become the norm for anywhere selling craft beer in the city centre.
Suffice to say, after a year of not really going out and just over a month back at it, we’ve all been feeling a bit skint.
But there is some great value beer out there for the drinking – if you know where to look.
We asked, and you delivered. If you know of any more, let us know @themanc and we’ll add them in here.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar, Shambles Square
The most suggested pub on the list by a mile, this black and white Samuel Smiths boozer off Shambles Square is one of Manchester’s most iconic. Famously moved after the 1996 IRA bomb to its current spot just a few yards down, it wins hands down on both value and aesthetic. Note to tourists, they don’t actually sell oysters here.
2 pints at £2.20. Dark mild and Alpine lager.
The Courtyard, Chester Street
The cost of Carling at this popular student bar has increased by a whopping 5 pence a pint since the start of the pandemic whilst other spots in town have put theirs up by several pounds. It’s also huge, with plenty of tables inside as well as in its namesake courtyard.
Hare & Hounds, Shudehill
With completely intact interiors dating back to 1925, this pretty pub is considered to be of some historic national importance. Popular with Manchester’s mature drinkers and sports fans, it’s got regular entertainment on here and pre-covid was quite well known for its karaoke.
Two pints at £2.70, Holt Bitter and Mild.
The City Pub, Oldham Street
This grade II-listed one-room pub at the top end of the Northern Quarter is full of characters in the day but typically quieter in the evening. For a time you could find some good real ale here, but it left the CAMRA fold in 2018 due to falling sales and now is very much keg over cask.
Joseph Holt Smooth £2.00, Boddingtons £2.10 (on happy hour, prices increase by 50p after 6pm).
Abel Heywood,Northern Quarter
This bar and boutique hotel is named after a former mayor of Manchester, as is, coincidentally, the town hall clock ‘Great Abel’ which can often be heard chiming across the city centre. Close to the Arndale, it’s a good, quiet place to head for a cold one when you’ve had enough of shopping.
£3.45 Hydes Original Bitter.
Seven Oaks, Chinatown
Located just off Mosley Street, this classic pub is a favourite of city centre locals, bored shoppers and off-duty bartenders alike. It also runs a ‘husband creche’ on the weekend.
Seven Oaks ale, £2.50
Trof, Northern Quarter
One of the Northern Quarter originals, due to its slightly hidden location in the midst of many new bars and restaurants, Trof is shamefully easy to forget about nowadays. At £3.50 a pint for its house lager it’s definitely stretching the boundaries of ‘cheap’ but deserves a shoutout nonetheless – much like its brilliant roast dinners.
Trof Lager £3.50 (on happy hour 4pm – 8pm, Monday-Friday).
Brickhouse Social NWS, New Wakefield Street
This New York-themed diner and bar boasts a pool room, roof terrace and ‘day of the dead’ themed basement club. Find it just off Oxford Road.
BH Lager, £2.50
The Footage, Oxford Road
Formerly known as the Grosvenor Picture Palace, this student haunt still retains many of the charms from its cinematic heyday. At £3.45 for Carling, it’s pushing the boundaries of what we can really consider cheap, but their craft beers can be bought for £3 during happy hours with a choice of Punk IPA and 4-5 rotating guest beers.
£3 craft beers (on happy hour, Tuesdays and Thursdays).
The Friendship Inn, Fallowfield
Another great student drinking spot, The Friendship’s got a great sun trap beer garden with seating that goes all the way around the pub. Indoors, there’s plenty of big screens to catch the football on, too.
Holston Pilsner £2.10 (on happy hour, 12-6 Monday to Friday)
The Victoria, Withington
This cosy little Victorian boozer in Withington mixes students and locals quite happily, with a big screen for sports and a popular pool table inside. There’s a good weekly quiz here on Thursdays and live Motown nights on the first Saturday of the month, plus a nice little beer garden out back that catches the sun in the afternoon.
The Red Lion, Withington
Another very decent Withington pub, this one’s set just off Wilmslow road heading towards The Christie. Spacious inside and out with some cute little nooks and crannies, it boasts a large terrace area overlooking the bowling green and some decent pub grub.
2 pints at £3.05. Manchester Pale Ale and and Dark.
The Blue Bell Inn, Levenshulme
A very smart Samuel Smith’s pub, The Blue Bell Inn was fully refurbished to a high standard around 2006. Spacious inside with a large garden to the rear, it’s at the heart of the community with a variety of groups using the pub to raise funds for local improvement projects. There’s even a knitting club.
2 pints at £2.20. Dark Mild and Alpine lager.
Featured image: Pixabay
We tried Greater Manchester’s first eight-course pie-tasting menu and it was absolutely unreal
Every now and again the opportunity to eat something genuinely new and different and which pushes the envelope when it comes to the kind of food you ever even thought you’d enjoy — sitting down for the inaugural ‘PieSessions’ was one of those such occasions.
This month, we had the privilege of being invited along to one of the most exclusive and highly-anticipated dining events in Greater Manchester: an eight-course pie-tasting event created by pie-pros Ate Days A Week, Scotty’s Pies and a number of other collaborators.
Hosting a true first for the region, Notion Bar over in Stockport was packed out with over 50 guests who were all eagerly awaiting to taste pies from the local favourite, MasterChef contestant turned meat and pastry specialist Scott Eckersley-Bell, as well as Wigan staples Baldy’s Pies and Harwoods Patisserie.
At first glance, the popular SK Deep South-inspired dive bar might not look like the place to offer up a gourmet tasting menu, but what it did have was an accessible charm and a bunch of hungry people not only willing to keep their minds open but who simply love all things pie. Who doesn’t?
At the top of the bill was probably one of the most interesting things we’ve eaten all year: a Japanese-inspired ‘Pie-Scream’ which delivered the exact savoury spin as it promised on the tin. A malt-crust cone stuffed with smoothly pipped mash, katsu curry sauce and crispy Teriyaki bacon in place of a flake.
We believe we call that ‘making a good first impression’. From that moment on, we knew we weren’t just going to be eating any old meal and that it wasn’t just going to be plate after plate of what you normally consider a pie; everything was different and we can honestly say everything was good, if not amazing.
Next up we had probably one of our standouts from the entire night which was a garlic, ginger and soy pork mince tartlet with a perfect piece of honey-glazed pork belly next to it, as well as a light edamame and spring onion purée to balance out the strong flavours.
Following on from the opener, the pair delivered all of the tried and tested Asian flavours in a method most will have never experienced them in before and, in truth, we could have even taken some extra spice with that virtually perfect tartlet but they were careful not to thrash our palettes early doors.
Two down, six to go and when we tell you it was plate after plate of precise pie-based ingenuity, we’re not exaggerating. From the short rib slider, which was almost like an elevated Wigan kebab, to the gentler poached cod pithivier which kind of reminded us of a seafood twist on a Cornish pasty, there was a single thing we didn’t like.
The way the menu was also carefully constructed not to beat you over the head with non-stop meat, pastry and gravy but to fluctuate between smaller bites and more substantial courses was already pretty impressive, as we managed to make it to the end of the meal at the perfect level of full.
We were even pleasantly surprised to see how the team tackled the issue of pudding, with a sweet and just sharp enough take on parfait with fresh orange, stem ginger and brown sugar, as well as a much richer chocolate, salted caramel and hazelnut brownie for a big finish.
To be honest, we loved the tiny little lemon madeleines they surprised us with as an after-dinner treat even more than the desserts (the two of us in attendance are lemon fiends, to be fair) but the best course of the night has to go to the ‘Big Jim Volume 2.0’.
Speaking to Ate Days A Week Founder Andy James on our way out, you could clearly see how his passion for the concept had translated amongst his colleagues, into the excitement of the guests and then back onto him after he saw how well the whole thing went down.
There was a real buzz about the place that was nothing like we’d ever experienced before with other tasting menus and we think it’s because those in attendance had never sat down for a meal that was as experimental as this one whilst also being that accessible.
Yes, it might be a touch posher than pie, mash and gravy but it never stayed too far away from that simple British pleasure and while there were certainly a few thrills to give you that tasting menu feel, nothing felt out of place and neither did the diners.
Pulling off one of the best teas we’ve had in a long time from a tiny kitchen inside a rough-around-the-edges late-night drinking spot, we already know there will be a sequel to PieSessions not only because Andy told us so but because it was such a massive success. Count us in for the next one.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 — dates, locations, prices and everything you need to know
Rejoice, Manchester it’s that time again — famously the most wonderful time of year, and you know what that means: we’ll soon be filling our faces with bratwurst, cheersing steins of Bavarian beer and filling our houses with far too many festive trinkets because the Christmas Markets are back.
We’re not even tooting our own horn when we say this, it’s just a fact that the Manchester Christmas Markets are some of the best and most popular on the planet and this year we celebrate 25 years since the seasonal stalls first opened up in 0161 and started a legendary annual tradition.
It doesn’t matter how many years roll by, we still await their arrival like little kids waiting for Christmas morning and set our schedules for what time we’re going to head out on which day to cross off the must-haves on our markets checklist.
With that in mind, we thought we’d help you put together your own plan of attack this holiday season and give you all the info you need to know to make the most of the 2023 Manchester Christmas Markets. You can thank us later.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 mug design and price
Every year the Manchester Christmas Markets has a limited-edition mug design, and this year the collectable souvenir has taken inspiration from the Nutcracker.
There are two different sizes and 2023 designs to collect when the markets officially open next week.
When you order a hot drink at the markets you’ll be charged a £3.50 deposit for a mug (that’s up from £3 last year).
You can then return your cup when you’re finished to get your money back, or take it home as a memento.
Last year, the Manchester Christmas Markets mugs were so popular they ran out before the markets had even finished – but they’ve ordered extras this year to be on the safe side.
Travel advice and how to get to the Manchester Christmas Markets 2023
Transport for Greater Manchester has urged people to use public transport wherever possible to travel in and out of the city centre for the Manchester Christmas Markets.
That’s because of all the events running alongside the festivities, from huge football matches to gigs at the AO Arena to Black Friday sales.
The Bee Network app will help you to plan your journey and you can read all the latest travel advice here.
The best hotels to stay in for the Manchester Christmas Markets
Now, for those of you travelling into town to sample our world-famous markets — as literally thousands do every single year — you might be in need of somewhere to lay your head after a few too many steaming mugs of Glühwein.
Fortunately, since this city continues to be such a popular tourist attraction all year round, there are plenty of hotels to suit whatever your budget is.
In fact, you’re so lucky that we already put together a list of the best hotels in Manchester a little while back, so you’re welcome in advance.
And that should do you for now and your guide to the 2023 Manchester Christmas Markets — we’re sure most of you know the score by now: it’ll be a big, cold, a bit busy but utterly wonderful as it always is.
We’ve found the trick is to try out a few days during the week if you want to beat the rush and then come back at the weekend for the full-bellied crowds brimming with festive cheer.
There really is nothing like it in our opinion and we’ll be sure to keep bringing you plenty of updates on all things Christmas Markets-related going on in Manchester over the next couple of months.