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The best alternative bars in Manchester

With every Freshers’ Week, the same old clubs and bars are recommended to new first years and oh-so-wise third years – so this year, The Mancunion will shed some light on some of the lesser known, more alternative gems. 



A five-minute walk from Piccadilly Gardens presents you with rock and roll, dive bar royalty – Jimmy’s.

Started by a pair of musician brothers, Jimmy’s was the aim to create a neon-lit, zebra-sofa, leather heaven for the Manchester music scene.

Its crowd is less student-y than YES, but you see the best outfits, listen to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jack White whilst you choose from classic cocktails or Jimmy’s own draft such as the Honeycomb pale ale.

During the week Jimmy’s offers a cool place for a pint with good tunes and gigs downstairs on most nights. On the weekend, it’s capacity surges and you see the most interesting mix of people enjoying its alternative styling.



A stone’s throw from Factory and Fifth you encounter YES. Although only a year or so old, YES already has a massive reputation as one of the coolest spots in the city.

It’s ground floor offers Scandinavian, minimalist-chic with pizza slices, reasonably priced pints of Amstel but also affordable Aperol Spritz, G&Ts and cocktails – especially if you go before 6pm any day to take advantage of their special offer of a second drink for £1.

The middle floor, a kitsch, powder-pink themed ‘Pink Room’ hosts gigs and club nights such as the loved alternative music classic ‘Remake Remodel’. 

Up the stairs once more and you reach the terrace, where vast amounts of glass and succulents echo the spacious, light minimalism of the ground floor. Here too you can buy drinks and sit on the rooftop terrace to either smoke or enjoy slurping alcohol al fresco. There is a venue space in the basement for gigs too. 

Photo: @yes_mcr via Twitter


Behind Closed Doors

With the tag-line ‘sex, rugs & funk ‘n’ soul’, comes our final alternative bar – Behind Closed Doors. This recommendation is usually given through word of mouth as there is an alluring air of secrecy about this bar.

Located on Oldham Street, the road epitomising the Northern Quarter, Behind Closed Doors has a modest entrance. With a black door and a neon sign above it, it’s easy to miss but for that reason remains one of the best hidden gems in Manchester.

This bar is not for the faint-hearted nor for the conservative. Its theme is a sordid boudoir of funk music and 70’s porn with its custom cocktails revelling in this theme.

Above the booths, old-fashioned phones allow you to call the bar for cocktails, and those cocktails are unforgettable. To detail a few; ‘Love bite’ is a Manchester raspberry gin and cucumber sorbet, ‘Penis Colada’ is well, a Pina Colada with a punny name and ‘Stop if I scream’ is a flaming brulee cocktail with ice cream, rum, liqueur 43 and a condom clipped to the glass (I’m not making this up). You will have the best night. 

YES, 38 Charles Street. Jimmy’s, 12 Newton Street.  Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham Street. @yes_mcr, @jimmys and @bcdnq respectively on Instagram.

Tags: Alternative bars, Behind Closed Doors Bar Manchester, Jimmy's Manchester, Manchester Bars, YES Manchester

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