Okay so all the bees are here and when I was sat in Sackville Gardens yesterday I saw a load of people checking out the LGBTQ+ Queen Bee in there and thought of a great idea.
Mostly fuelled by the tin of cider in my hand, I decided to create a Bar Crawl that aims to take in as many of the bees in the city centre as possible while also getting you sloshed. Make sure you drink responsibly though and all that!
If you need some assistance finding all these places and bees – download the Bee in the City App.
Bee: HoneyBoo by Lei-Mai LeMaow
Stevenson Square is the perfect place to start the crawl, mostly because it is slap bang in the middle of the NQ and there’s loads of places to quench your thirst. My personal favourite here is Slice, mostly because I love sitting on the terrace there with a Campari and a pizza, watching the world go by. Only an idiot would sit down and not give their classic Sausage, Broccoli and Chilli pizza a try and you’re not an idiot are you? I suppose you can also give Flok a try if you’re feeling adventurous, it always seems to be heaving – mostly because it’s great.
From Stevenson Square you’re going to head down Thomas Street, take a right at Oi Polloi and up to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre.
Bee: Maker Bee by Tasha Whittle and Instruct Studio
With a bee that celebrates the industrial and creative spirit of the city, the Maker Bee sits outside the Craft & Design Centre – a place that would put a massive smile on Neil Buchanan’s face – even if he mostly just plays in his stupid rock band nowadays. For your next bevvie, head around the corner to Common, a definitive NQ establishment which serves up some bloody brilliant food alongside an impressive range of drinks. Not only has their breakfast won a ton of awards but they also always have some brilliant beers on tap, including the legendary, juicy delight – Schofferhofer.
Just a quick shifty through those weird Council houses in the NQ and you’re on Swan Street, heading for Mackie Mayor.
Mackie Mayor & Bar Fringe
Bee: Summer Sundae by Lei-Mai LeMaow
Another effort from Lei-Mai LeMaow, the Summer Sundae Bee looks like a big bloody ice cream complete with those proper nice waffles for wings and what looks like a cherry for a head. It’s located right outside Mackie Mayor, and you don’t really need me to tell you that you can pop in here for a drink of pretty much anything, as well as some food if you’re hungry. Now that you’re in the area you should also give the brilliant Bar Fringe a try (it’s only across the road) because they have one of the city’s best selections of beers – mostly Belgian and mostly better at killing brain cells than a 2-year-old bottle of Febreze.
Coming out of Mackie Mayor, carry on down Swan Street towards Victoria and you can bag yourself 2 more bees (or 3 if you can be arsed walking across Angel Square).
The Pilcrow Pub
Bees: The Tears of Ra by Donna Newman, Love is the Honey by Andrew Cornes & Cottonopolis by Leah Pendleton
You’re in proper Co-op town now, with many of their buildings looming large overhead and the spaceship-like NOMA sticking out like a sore thumb. You can bag yourself 3 bees here, with Love is the Honey being located right outside The Pilcrow Pub, a cracking little boozer with a great terrace and some surprisingly good food. They’ve always got a shit load of decent beers on tap so you won’t have to just lump it and down a pint of Fosters.
We’re really going to start picking up the bees now – there’s fucking loads of them around here. Coming out of Sadler’s Yard you’ll find one at the top of Balloon Street (The Federation Bee by Nomad Clan), one at the bottom (Doing the Waggle Dance by Judith Berrill) and one in Victoria station (‘Manchester Movement’ Bee by Shelley Jayne)
From here you’re going to head towards Exchange Square where there are plenty more to tuck into. Don’t forget to nip into the Printworks for the Hac ‘BEE’ enda by Justin Eagleton and have a potter around the Cathedral & the Footy Museum for a few more.
The Old Wellington
Bees: The Drip-bee by Kristian Movahed, The Honey Dome by Deven Bhurke, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL by Liam Gallagher, The Yellow Bee by Selfridges, Penny Pendo-bee-no by Jenny Leonard
On the cusp of Exchange Square you’ll find a group of some proper serious boozers. Of course, everyone knows Sinclair’s Oyster Bar, mostly because of their cheap booze and rowdy crowd, but my personal favourite is the Old Wellington, a pub that is probably older than time itself, being constructed just before the Big Bang fucked everything up. Either sit outside on the terrace or in one of the many little rooms that run through its warren-like interior. Bee wise you’ve got loads knocking about, including the very lazy all yellow one outside Selfridges and the one that Liam Gallagher ‘designed’ in the Corn Exchange.
Coming out of the Old Wellington (or Sinclair’s) you’re going to need to head to Deansgate, once the centre of the city’s buzzing night scene and now pretty much just a road with a Bella Italia on it. For maximum Bee exposure, walk down The Shambles to see the Bee a Rainbow! and the SuperBee and head into Barton Arcade.
Bees: The Homing Bee by C’Art Dawes, Colourful Manchester Skyline Bee by Meha Hindocha
First port of call for anyone who’s found themselves in this part of town, Lunya is a deli, bar and restaurant and is the best place in the city for anything even remotely Spanish related. Their range of produce is outstanding, their sangria tasty and their tapas are definitely something to write home about. The bar downstairs is perfect for a tipple, where you’ll find a load of great Spanish gins and some cracking Vermouth. Once you’ve done, be sure to check out the two Bees located in St Ann’s Square including the very imaginatively named Colourful Manchester Skyline Bee.
Easy directions now, you’re in St Ann’s Square, just head on down that little alleyway thing between Barclay’s bank and the Royal Exchange. Here you’ll find Sandinista.
Sandinista & Corbieres
Bees: Shellbee by loads, Queen Bee by Lee O’Brien
To be honest the actual bees are located in the Royal Exchange but you’re not going to want to sit in the bar there and have a drink unless you’re also watching a bit of Shakespeare so next door at Sandinista it is. They’ve always got a brilliant selection of weird beers and ciders on tap in Sandinista, alongside plenty of really tasty tapas dishes – perfect for soaking up a bit of the booze that you’ve been smashing so far. Also worth a visit it Corbieres, which boasts what many people say is the best jukebox in the city. I personally think the one in The Temple beats it but I’m not hard enough to argue or fight anyone over it.
From here you’ll be heading towards King Street – I’m not that bothered which way you go. Once there have a nice little walk down to El Gato…
El Gato Negro
Bee: USBee by One Red Shoe
Celebrating all of the computer nerds and geeks that reside in the city, the USBee has a load of binary on it and even has circuit board wings. I’m not sure if the binary actually makes anything though – it’s probably just for show. Once the bee has been admired you should then pop into El Gato Negro, one of the city’s best places for tapas and also a great place for a few cheeky Spanish orientated drinks. Their wine selection is always excellent and they even serve up that amazing (and hard to find) Estrella Inedit beer that everyone always bangs on about.
Head back up King Street and take a right at the junction with Cross Street. You’re heading towards Albert Square now…
Dogs N Dough
Bees: The Birds and the Bees by Caroline Daly, This is Manchester by Celine Elliott
Before getting to the Square and checking out the two bees there you’d do well popping down the stairs for a bevvie in Dogs N Dough who manage to serve up some amazingly obscure (and delicious) cocktails. Go even further underground and you’ll find 17 Below, an 80’s bar with even better cocktails, free old school arcade machines and a couple of pool tables. The soundtrack in here is always brilliant by the way so make sure you wear comfy shoes.
Check out the two in Albert Square and then head down Brazennose Street, past Abraham Lincoln and down to that little square outside the John Ryland’s Library.
Bees: Rocket, the Steam (punk) Bee by Sinclair Illustration, Bee-vina McCall by Jen Pye, Love by Caroline Dowsett
There’s a load of Bees dotted around Spinningfields so if you’re looking to complete it proper, now is the time to have a wander about and get them ticked off. If you’re just using the Bees as an excuse to get pissed, here’s Australasia where you can sit on their new terrace and sup some sophisticated cocktails and try to look swanky. This place is always pretty busy, especially at the weekends and most of the people in there will either have just got back from Ibiza or will be going on Monday but don’t let that put you off – the cocktails (and the food) are excellent. Bee wise, there’s one here that’s named after Davina McCall for some reason. Perhaps the little plaque will explain what’s going on.
Come out of Australasia and head down Deansgate towards the Great Northern warehouse. You know – that bit with the cinema, casino and that place where you can throw axes.
Bees: Agnes Bee-den Powell by Jodie Silverman, A City Transformed by Helen Russell
As if you’re going to walk anywhere near Peter Street and not pop into Schloss for a frosty German ale and a chew on a fat pretzel. Nobody has the will power to resist the pull of one of the city’s best bar slash restaurants and by about this time on your crawl (unless you started at 9am) it should be getting suitably rowdy and energetic in there. We’re big fans of Schloss here at Finest, it’s a great establishment for both a nice quiet drink, a proper meal or just to have a dance on some tables. Not many places can pull it off, but Schloss manages to do it in style. If you’re looking for Bees – opposite Schloss in the square in front of the big warehouse you’ll find two.
Directly opposite the entrance of Schloss you’ll find a cheeky little road that goes down the side of the Great Northern and ends up right at the bottom of Beetham Tower. Walk around it and you’re at Deansgate Locks although don’t worry, we’re not going out-out.
Bees: Steam-Powered Bee by Karis Viola Lambert, Manchester’s Buzz by Tom Brader
At the Deansgate Metrolink stop you’ll find Manchester’s Buzz while just down the road in Castlefield you’ll see the Steam-Powered Bee. Right in the centre of these two is Atlas, a bar that holds the city’s biggest selection of gins – currently standing at around 350. Most of them probably all taste the same (horrible) but they have some proper mental concoctions on the go too including one made by passing a bottle of Gordon’s through the digestive system of a leopard. Probably.
Walk past Deansgate Locks and resist the urge to pop into one of the bars and have 10 shots and head towards First Street. As you’d expect from the city’s newest destination there’s a fair few Bees knocking about, as well as a fair few places to get a drink.
Bees: The BeeHolder by Light4, Bee-bop-a-raver by Caroline Daly, Bee Here Now by Joseph Venning
Finest’s favourite place at the moment, Bunny Jackson’s is fantastic for sinking some booze, listening to great tunes and if you’re hungry – scoffing some lovely grub. They seemingly always have a Happy Hour on, offer free hotdogs with every drink after 9pm and can serve up every cocktail known to man – it’s brilliant. They also have FREE pool upstairs so if you’re not too drunk by this point, have a knock about. Once you’ve found your bees first of course.
Coming out of Bunny Jacksons and on to Whitworth Street, you’re going to have to take a walk towards Oxford Road for your next destination. If you fancy stopping off for a drink in Gorilla or a spot of bowling in Dog Bowl, I won’t judge you.
Bees: Manchester STEM Bee by Kelly Stanford
Oxford Road corridor now and of course that means a visit to The Refuge, handily located within the imposingly grand Principal hotel. If you’ve never been in Refuge then you’re in for a treat as this stunning space is pretty much the last thing you’d expect from a hotel bar. The Winter Garden with all of its tree-based goodness is a definite highlight, but no matter where you sit you’re going to have access to some cracking cocktails, a massive wine list and a few bottled beer beauties that will really hit the spot. The food here is equally as impressive as the surroundings too.
Stumble out of The Refuge and carry on down Whitworth Street towards the Gay Village. Keep on trucking until you get to Sackville Gardens, home of the Alan Turing memorial and the LGBTQ+ Queen Bee.
Bee: The LGBTQ+ Queen Bee
You’ve got the pick of so many bloody places around Sackville Gardens that it’s pretty impossible for me to just choose one. Canal Street (and just off it) is home to a ton of great bars that will most likely be banging out some absolute tunes by now and will definitely be busy (like a bee). I chose Tribeca solely because it is the closest to the Bee to be fair. When I was at uni and I lived in halls just down the road Tribeca had a bit downstairs called Bed, a club which actually had proper beds in it. It was great, although I expect they got rid of it because of the maintenance required when cleaning them every morning after a mucky disco the night before.
Go around the back of City College and follow Aytoun Street round, past the Double Tree Hilton and right up to the last stop – Piccadilly Train Station. It’s the last stop because you’re probably proper pissed up at this point and the train station will get you home nice and safe.
Bees: AuBee by Hydro Monkeys, Urban Jungle Bee by Nicola Fernandes, Manchester Doodle Bee by Dave Draws
There’s a couple of bees dotted around here including the Doodle Bee by Finest friend Dave Draws. Thinking of somewhere to have your final bevvy and I was a bit stuck – there’s a distinct lack of decent places around this part of town, something that looks to be improving with the introduction of a few Manchester favourites in the empty units of the approach. Until then though it’ Piccadilly Tap which offers a range of beers that not even OddBins can compete with. It’s either there or you just go to M&S in the station and sink your final drink on the train home.