Liverpool & Manchester's best pubs and bars
Our pub-going readers are clearly an eclectic bunch, with a range of different style watering holes making our best pubs and bars list for Manchester and Liverpool
A favourite bar is like a favourite child; you might struggle to pick one, but in reality, you definitely have a preference. When it came to choosing yours, the results were pretty wide-ranging. Where some of you valued the energetic, party atmosphere of a bar, others opted for the traditional ale house with a serious roster of craft beers.
Whatever your tastes, the Northwest has an option for you, that much is true. Here we run through the top five pubs and bars, what you'll find there and the drink you should be ordering.
Berry & Rye, Liverpool
In its early days, Berry & Rye was one of Liverpool’s hidden gems; a secret haven, tucked behind an anonymous exterior on Berry Street that you had to blag your way into. Nowadays, that's no longer the case, but revellers are still flocking here in droves. Imagine an old-school speakeasy in Prohibition-era New York, all panelled walls, antique trinkets and candlelit booths. There's space for around 50 people at a push, but table service means you won't struggle to order a drink. Clued-up staff are on hand to guide you, but this place specialises in whisky and gin cocktails, so you should make the most of that. Go for an Old Fashioned, stay for the live jazz.
With nods in our World Food, Best Date and On-the-Go categories, these guys have certainly racked up the nominations this year. The Smithdown Road bar takes the whole Mexican thing and runs with it; expect strings of fairy lights, sugar skulls and graphic poster-clad walls. Drinks-wise you’ll find an extensive list of South American beers, such as rum-flavoured Cubanisto, Evil Eye's own take on the Desperado and a whole bunch of Spanish wines. There's a stage space that plays regular host to live guitarists, mariachi bands and DJs, so it's definitely one for the weekend.
Salut Wines is essentially Manchester’s sommelier. From its shop-cum-bar on Cooper Street, it offers a choice of around 40 different wines by the glass, all dispensed from an Enomatic serving system that enables each bottle to be opened without being subject to oxidation. The laid-back, no-nonsense approach to wine tasting is what makes this place such a hit. Smart, educated (literally – we’re talking NVQs) and friendly staff quash any preconceptions you might have about trying and buying wine. The Hugel Pinot Noir is a recent arrival and worth a try.
Affectionally referred to as ‘everyone’s local,’ The Grapes is part of Liverpool’s brewing history. It’s located in the city’s Georgian quarter and has all the authenticity and charm you'd expect from an old boozer. As part of Liverpool’s Real Ale Trail, it's a destination for craft beer fans, stocking from the likes of Liverpool craft brewery Tatton and Marston's. Surprisingly, rum is a specialty here, and you can find over 35 varieties. Try the award-winning Diplomatico or The Grapes’ own Dark'n'Stormy, with Gosling's dark rum and Jamaican ginger beer.
Ship & Mitre, Liverpool
Offering arguably one of the largest ranges of beers, ales and ciders on Merseyside, the Ship & Mitre is another Liverpool legend. It’s probably best known for its ship-themed bar and Art Deco interior, but a CAMRA accreditation means that this place means business. With 12 hand‐pulled ales, three hand‐pulled ciders, 25 different draught beers and over 100 different bottles on offer, the choice here is impressive. It's also home to some of our best beer winners – always a good sign.