If you’re anything like me that first well-earned drink you have on a Friday after a week’s hard graft is something you look forward to more than anything. No other drink you have is as satisfying or feels as well deserved. It’s a great time to reflect with your friends on the week you’ve just had, good or bad and if it’s the latter, then it’s an opportunity to set your weekend up on a more positive note. It’s a ritual with my group of friends, so it’s a guarantee, that at around half three on a Friday afternoon someone on our WhatsApp group will ask the question – ‘FNP anyone?’ Then after numerous confirms someone then asks – ‘which boozer?’ Getting the right venue is a major factor and the catalyst to getting the weekend off to a flyer whether you are staying out or just going for one. Every week numerous places are suggested, but here‘s my top ten to be considered in no particular order…
Red Lion, Wilmslow Road, Withington
A pub I first spotted in 2003 when I started getting my haircut next door, it shows live sport, serves food, sells the best crisps (McCoy’s all flavours) and the drinks are fairly cheap. It’s quite a spacious place so you are always guaranteed a seat, something much needed after work. I would say when I have been in there’s an even split of United and City fans who go in. A great place to start an all dayer as well.
Friendship Inn, Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield
I have a lot of time for this pub for nostalgia reasons as I went regularly during my time at university. There’s a really interesting crowd as it’s a combination of Mancunian locals with students which actually works. What I love about this place is the local feel, there is a group of older blokes I call the old guard who all still sit in the same corner they did as when I was studying, they honestly haven’t moved since 2006. The food over the years has been good with generous portions; they even had a Chinese menu a couple of years back giving it a similar feel to the Golden Phoenix from Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. A popular pub in the area for sports fans.
City Road Inn, Albion Street
Situated opposite the Hacienda apartments this is one of the only pubs in the area that was around during the iconic Hacienda nightclub days. It’s an open pub with a little games room on the right hand side as you walk in, which is a good area to base you and your group of friends for a few drinks. Here there is seating and you can play pool and darts, there is also easy access to the jukebox which has an amazing selection. Very close to two other great classic pubs – Peveril Of The Peak and The Britons Protection, a pub I’m told Eric Cantona was a fan of during his playing days at Manchester United.
Sir Ralph Abercromby, Bootle Street
The Abercromby faces an uncertain future as it is likely to be demolished as part of Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s property development plans which would be a massive shame. Even when it is busy you always get served fast and the staff are really friendly, especially the landlord who always takes time out to have some banter with me and the lads. There’s a decent beer garden at the back which plays music from what is on inside the pub. I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad pint from here.
The Vine Inn, Kennedy Street
This traditional English pub is situated directly next door to The City Arms, they feel like the same pub to be honest just with different entrances and slightly different beers. You never go in just one of them, you always have to have a pint in each, it would be rude not to. When the weather’s nice people congregate outside and drink in the street and sit on the wall opposite which creates a nice city pub atmosphere and the staff never make you put your drinks in plastic glasses, a massive plus point for me and something more pubs should do. On the other side and just around the corner is The Waterhouse incase you fancy sneaking off for a cheap one. The Vine is a lot bigger than you will realise at first, there is more space on a higher level to the right as you walk in and another area downstairs which also has a bar.
Cottonopolis Food & Liquor, Newton Street in the Northern Quarter
A modern bar and Asian inspired restaurant rather than a classic public house, Cottonopolis is one of my favourite new editions to the city’s night life. If you weren’t planning on staying out after your FNP you will be if you come here, the buzz of the place is too hard to resist. I find myself still there well into the night on many occasions in work gear with an unused gym bag in my hand. It’s at this point you know it’s too late to turn back and you just have to embrace it. I’m a big fan of the industrial interior and the Krusovice Tank Beer, the tank system is even visible above the bar and is always poured into glasses straight out of the fridge or freezer, it’s amazing what a difference this makes.
Slice Pizza & Bread Bar, Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter
Slice doesn’t get the accolade it deserves in my eyes. Its relaxed dining and you don’t feel out of place – whether you want to just eat, drink or have a coffee. In Manchester it’s the nearest thing you will see to a café/bar or deli in the East Village in New York. It’s so relaxed and there’s always covered seating available outside whatever the weather. It makes you feel like you are on the Sopranos when you sit outside with a slice in one hand, pint of Peroni in the other. As well as offering one of the best pizza’s in the city they also offer an array of Gelato to choose from.
The Unicorn, Church Street
Always packed on Fridays and very entertaining, if you like people watching then this is the place as there are some brilliant characters who are always up for a laugh. There’s a group of local older lads who go in and all sit next to each other in a line staring straight ahead, one of which orders his pints of Fosters two at a time because he can’t be bothered going to the bar. A lot of grafters go in for a tea time session and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing the enjoyment on their faces as they take their first sip. This place ends up rocking as the night goes on due to the disco or karaoke competition they regularly put on.
Crown & Kettle, Oldham Road
Situated next to the Express Building where the offices were once based for both The Daily Express and Daily Sport Newspapers, the Crown and Kettle was once a regular haunt for employees of them both with lunchtime drinking sessions being just as popular. This is a basic pub I’m not going to lie, a proper drinker’s pub where you can actually have a good conversation with your friends; it’s a great place to have a chilled pint before making your way back to the Northern Quarter or to take a bit of time out before continuing the rest of your night. It is also in close proximity to Bar Fringe and the Smithfield Market Tavern which offer a wide range of cask ales and Belgian beers.
Town Hall Tavern, Tib Lane
With an Irish owner you’re always sure to be in good hands, and you are at the Town Hall Tavern. It always seems to be busy with a jolly and happy atmosphere guaranteed. I like the fact they have high bar stools and a selection of the days papers to read, one pub I would even recommend to go for a pint on your own. It also seems to be a rest stop for shoppers, when I’m at the bar I see couples on many occasions walking in with loads of bags, puffing and panting in need of a drink. At the time of writing this article this pub was open, unfortunately it has recently closed hopefully not forever as I always enjoy the Guinness in here and the crowd is a great combination of regulars with visitors to the city. I just hope this isn’t another permanent victim of Manchester’s dying pub trade, a fate already sealed for The Old Grapes and Mother Macs , two other fantastic boozers.
Hopefully there is something from my favourites to suit everyone; I think it is a must to have had at least one drink in them all!