September 27, 2013 12:05 pm

Five of the best: Manchester bars

The Castle Hotel

The Castle Hotel

The Briton’s Protection

A classic boozer saved from the wrecking ball, this is a welcoming display of Georgian pomp just round the corner from the convention centre. It boasts a long, narrow front bar with real ales and a huge range of whisky, while in the back are snugs with open fires (a perfect place to plot). Opposite the Bridgewater Hall concert venue, it’s as likely to be filled with bow-tied lawyers attending a function as with real-ale buffs.

50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE, 0161 236 5895, www.britonsprotection.co.uk

The Alchemist

This newish glassfronted bar has become the place to party after work in Spinningfields, the office district dubbed the “Canary Wharf of Manchester”. Attracting its fair share of celebrities, from Coronation Street actors to footballers’ wives, it is famed for its cocktails, which can be served in kettles to share, alongside bottles of Cristal champagne for £250.

3 Hardman Street, Manchester M3 3HF, 0161 817 2950, www.thealchemist.uk.com

Velvet

No visit to Manchester is complete without a trip to the gay village along Canal Street. The entire street is lined with bars and restaurants, their tables set along the canal and lights strung in the trees. Velvet is a boutique hotel with a bar decked out like the Moulin Rouge. There are cocktails and DJs but none of the pumping music that might put Conservative delegates off some of the street’s other venues.

2 Canal St, Manchester M1 3HE, 0161 236 9003, www.velvetmanchester.com/bar

Cloud 23

Climb the tallest residential building in the UK outside London to this 23rd-floor bar in the Hilton hotel. It has floor-to-ceiling windows offering views as far as the Pennines and the Peak District. There’s also a glass floor with views straight down for the strong-stomached. Book online to avoid queues. Smart dress code.

Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, www.cloud23bar.com, 0161 870 1670

The Castle Hotel

At the heart of the Northern Quarter, a former textile district that has become a creative hub, The Castle combines old-fashioned boozer with hip café. Regulars include the band Elbow, whose own Build a Rocket Boys beer is sometimes on tap. One of the few places you can sample Robinsons brewery’s full range of Stockport ales.

66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE, 0161 237 9485, http://thecastlehotel.info/

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Andrew Bounds is the FT’s Northern correspondent and Enterprise editor

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