Best student bars in Manchester
Check out our picks for the best student bars in Manchester!
Manchester’s students are spoiled for choice with one of the country’s liveliest bar scenes, but with so much choice on offer how do you know where the cool kids hang out and which places you should really avoid?! Here’s our guide to Manchester’s top student bars for wide-eyed freshers, cynical post-grads, and everyone in between!
The Courtyard (£)
Come summertime students flock to The Courtyard in droves to chill in the huge garden and make the most of the bar’s reputation for serving the “cheapest beer in town”. The prime location minutes away from Oxford Road and Manchester Met Uni means this bar is always buzzing with students winding down after lectures with an affordable pint or craft beer. Particularly popular are their £2 and £3 cocktails with names like “Superman” and “African Sundozer” which are guaranteed to get you prepped for an awesome night out.
Sports fans will love the large HD screens are spread throughout the venue. There are even screens outside so you can enjoy catching a few rays of rare British sunshine while keeping up with the action. Just make sure you arrive early as the lively atmosphere and great drinks prices means it tends to fill up quickly when there’s a big game!
If you prefer your sport more interactive, The Courtyard also run regular pool tournaments and weekly Sunday night quiz nights to bring out your competitive side. Or really put yourself and your mates to the test with their mega “Man Vs. Food” challenge. All you need to do is force 8 burgers, 1 kg of chips and onion rings and a side salad. If you manage to eat everything in less than 30 minutes, you get the lot for free!
Food prices overall are very reasonable and savvy students will love the special offers spread across the week. Head down on Sundays to enjoy half-price pizza all day or reward yourself and your mates after a hard day of studying with a £5 pizza after 6pm every day. Combine this with welcoming, friendly staff and it’s easy to see why The Courtyard is consistently rated one of Manchester’s top student bars!
Lock 91 (£££)
Set in a restored 19th century lock keepers cottage, Lock 91 up next in our list of Manchester bars and is perfect for students who love seeking out quirky drinking holes. This small independent bar sees itself as a home from home where you’ll discover eccentric twists like the kitsch elk head over the bar, church pew seating and Victorian-style parlour room with vintage decor. Not surprisingly, Lock 91 has a loyal legion of fans who come for the homely vibe and friendly staff who actually remember your name and your usual!
With a picturesque Deansgate location right by the canal and a sunny lockside terrace, this charming local is the ideal spot for a date night or catching up with mates over a quiet pint or two. Over the summer months they fire up the barbecue so you can enjoy delicious grub right by the water. On colder days take your pick from the numerous cosy rooms spread across the cottage’s three floors where you’re sure to find a quiet spot to curl up on the comfy leather sofas.
Lock 91’s proximity to a whole host of venues like the O2 Ritz, Rebellion Manchester and The Bridgewater Hall as well as the popular student party bars overlooking the canal mean it’s also ideal for a relaxed pre-gig drink. The bar also offers its own entertainment in the form of regular guided drinks tasting events and a monthly indie film night which features a selection of short films from across the globe for just £6.
Drinks prices here are reasonable compared with elsewhere in the city, especially given the unique atmosphere and genuine, welcoming staff. The best time to pop in is between 5pm and 9pm from Tuesday to Saturday when they have student budget-friendly drinks offers including £5 cocktails, £3 pints and a bottle of house wine for just £10.95. She’s a keeper, that’s for sure!
Just round the corner from Manchester Met Uni, this post-lecture hangout is the kind of place where you’ll find both students and lecturers winding down with a pint or two. Thanks to the relaxed atmosphere, outside seating and several long tables inside, Sandbar is a great spot for catching up with large groups of classmates or friends.
This independent bar is known for its intimate vibe, speciality beers and their delicious handmade stonebaked pizzas which are served from 12pm to 9pm every day. Prices start at just £5 for a 9-inch Margherita making it an affordable treat even on a student budget!
With 23 different toppings on offer and the option to replace the cheese with vegan mozzarella, there’s plenty of choice for everyone. Splash out on one of Sandbar’s special German beers to pair with your pizza and you’ll have a feast to remember. Lovers of the noble brew will be delighted to discover that Sandbar’s eclectic beer list offers rare beauties from the continent as well as several unusual homegrown beers which have been directly commissioned from small British breweries.
When it comes to paying for your round, though, you’d better have remembered your plastic as Sandbar recently went cash-free. The shrewd bar staff do accept Bitcoin, though, if you happen to have some of those lying around. Or you can pop down and buy some from the nearby Bitcoin ATM at the Corner Store on Grosvenor Street if you fancy the futuristic novelty of paying via cryptocurrency.
Amongst the regular events on offer at this arty bar are the “Trivial Persecution” quiz night every Sunday which costs just £1 to enter and a bimonthly Life Drawing class for the brave and creatively-gifted amongst you. The bar also often hosts live music and comedy evenings as well as art exhibitions to make sure you get your culture fix.
Lola Lo Manchester (£)
With £2.95 cocktail offers and free entry for students before 11pm, lively Lola Lo is right up there with Manchester’s favorite student bars. Inside the decor gives off an invitingly exotic tiki vibe with funky booths perfect for cosy chats with your mates. As the night progresses the three-floor venue turns into party central with great tunes, guest DJs and raucous dancing carrying you right through into the wee hours. Make sure you find the secret selfie room at some point during the evening to take home a memento of your epic night.
Favourite nights for students include budget-friendly Tuckshop Mondays with £2 cocktails and £1 shots are on offer all night and the ever-popular Aloha Thursdays which feature mandatory Hawaiian flower leis, tropical beats and cheap drinks to get you thinking about the weekend. Those who’ve already got their Manchester bee tattoo should check out the Tuesday Beehive nights which are all about celebrating what it means to be Mancunian and to live in this vivacious city. Entry is free for everyone with the tattoo.
Lola Lo’s signature drinks are, as you might have guessed already, showstopping cocktails served in coconuts and their unique novelty tiki jugs. If you want to really impress your mates, order the four-person Lola’s Loades Barrel which comes served in an actual wooden barrel!
Lola Lo isn’t just a late night playground, though. Lola Lo offers a casual dining vibe with great value burgers and pizzas made from scratch on site which are served all day long. Come by on Monday nights and you can take advantage of the 50% off offer on all food to set you up for the evening ahead. Lola Lo is also a great choice for catching the big match thanks to a busy screening schedule which covers everything from the Monaco Grand Prix to the French Open.
The Liquor Store (££)
Set in the heart of the city minutes away from the Arndale shopping centre, The Liquor Store is one of Manchester’s favourite cocktail bars thanks to the cosy atmosphere and delicious drinks on offer. Inside the vibe is American speakeasy meets Manchester with exposed brick walls, vintage signage and a photo gallery of the city’s greatest musical exports from Ian Brown and Morrissey to The Bee Gees.
The Liquor Store’s main draw is the talented mixologists slaving away behind the bar to craft inspired concoctions with names like “Kinky Afro”, “Bob’s Your Uncle” and “Tina Turner Just Died”. Or you can ask the staff to whip you up something special from their extensive collection of unusual spirits from all over the world. If you fancy learning your way around a bar, they also offer Gin and Cocktail Masterclasses.
Budget conscious students will love the Happy Hour drinks offers available every day of the week from 5pm to 8pm. The bargains on offer include two glasses of wine, two G&Ts or two pints of Coors Light for just £6.50. Don’t miss their Free Food Fridays during the summer when they fire up the barbie from 5pm so you can combine those cheap Happy Hour drinks with some gratis grub! Or stop by for a dose of retro with their weekly Monday Club which features more drinks offers and live DJs playing old school rock n roll until 3am.
The Liquor Store also makes an ideal spot for birthday celebrations and parties thanks to their sizzling “double your bar tab” offer. All you need to do is pre-pay for at least a £25 bar tab and the bar will double the value of your tab! With deals like these on offer, it’s easy to see why The Liquor Store is such a firm favourite with Manchester’s students!
Tucked away in the calm third-year mecca that is Withington Village, offbeat Fuel draws a diverse crowd with its hearty vegetarian menu, quirky decor, open mic nights and eclectic gig line-up. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find erudite students lingering over exotic Belgian beers while they ponder the meaning of the universe or ruminate on the post-imperialist ramifications of Brexit.
The live music scene is particularly strong and genre-defying at Fuel with everything from folk, gypsy and jazz to punk rock. Don your flower child glad rags for their monthly folk night or get ready to protest at their free-entry “Radical Folk” evenings which feature socialist anthems and rebel ballads. In keeping with the open-minded artsy vibe, their cosy upstairs room is also a platform for all manner of creative expressions like comedy shows, poetry meetings and talks.
Stop by in the morning and you’re likely to spot hungover students feasting on their huge cooked breakfasts which come with vegan sausages and soya-buttered toast. The free WiFi and board games also makes Fuel a great choice for whiling away an afternoon pretending to work on those eternally overdue essays. The relaxed cafe atmosphere continues until around 7pm when the playlist jumps a beat and the place starts filling with postgrads with killer eyewear doggedly working their way through the thoughtful list of craft beers.
Far more than just another watering hole, Fuel is a special kind of place which welcomes dreamers and thinkers with open arms. If you’re the kind of student who loves intricate philosophical discussions which last long into the night, you’ll find yourself right at home here. Luckily the drinks prices are pretty reasonable and most of the gigs are free or around £4-£5 per ticket, so even if you do linger you won’t find yourself spending all your student loan during Freshers’ Week.
There we go! That rounds up our picks of the best student bars in Manchester. We hope you’ve enjoyed your read, check out some of our other posts to explore the nations favourite student bars in other cities.