The Northern Quarter
Manchester’s Northern Quarter has evolved into the city’s coolest area, home to vintage shops, independent cafes and a whole world of cocktail bars, pubs and clubs. If it’s cocktails you’re after, The Fitzgerald, Dusk Til Pawn and Apotheca are all top of the class, but the NQ’s best pre-club destination is the superb Cane & Grain, which is split across three differently themed floors, each celebrating rum, bourbon and beer. Club nights around the Northern Quarter are generally a bit to the left of your Top 40 floorfillers. Some of the trendiest nights in Manchester can be found at Soup Kitchen, The Ruby Lounge or Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club. If you still have some energy left, head for Black Dog Ballroom, where things keep going until 4am.
Spinningfields is right slap bang in the centre of Manchester and is the city’s premier destination for higher end bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for something for a special occasion, complete with your best glad rags, this is the place to go. For food, there’s a truly global variety, from the Manchester outpost of London tapas restaurant Iberica to New York glamour at Neighbourhood, and the Chinese wonders of Tattu. If you want to get a bit scientific with your cocktails, try The Alchemist.
The Southern Quarter
Also known as the Student Quarter, this two-mile stretch around Oxford Road is home to Manchester’s four universities, so you can be guaranteed plenty of nightlife options. Most of Manchester’s gig venues fall into this area, including The Manchester Academy, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute. It’s also home to some iconic Manchester spots, such as The Thirsty Scholar and The Temple.
Or, the Gay Village, as it’s better known to locals. This is dancefloor heaven, home to some of Manchester’s best clubs, including G-A-Y on Canal Street, Vanilla and Via. If you’re still raring to go when the lights come up, Cruz 101 stays open until 6 and 7am at weekends.
Similar to Spinningfields, Deansgate is an excellent destination for a smarter night out. Don’t even think about wearing anything scruffy (even tastefully so) if you’re planning on visiting the more exclusive haunts, such as The Living Room, Cloud 23 (replete with amazing views of Manchester) or The Milton Club. Gin fans should make a beeline for Atlas Bar, which boasts 130 different gins, or if rum is your thing, try some of The Liars Club’s 100 varieties. For properly raucous late nights, MOJO or The Liquor Store won’t disappoint.