In a nightlife-oriented city emerging from pandemic restrictions, there is naturally a profound desire to make up for lost time.

While conventional clubs and pubs are as popular as ever, many Mancunians are seeking out a variety of experiences that were perhaps taken for granted before they became frequently illegal across the last two years. After a growing trend in bars which ingeniously combine drinking and casual sport in the last decade or so, the party-and-play Manchester haunts are better than ever as we refill the streets. 

Flight Club

Although darts is far from an obscure ale house pastime, Flight Club first appeared in London ten years ago promising to reinvent the pub sport for the twenty-first century. A whirlwind decade of cocktails, artisanal pizza, digitized multiplayer games and national expansion later, Flight Club is the household name in ‘social darts’ for all punters of all backgrounds, catering to everything from date nights to hen parties and, of course, bottomless brunches.

Ship Canal House, 98 King St, Manchester M2 4WU
Roxy Ballroom

With branches in the Arndale and on Deansgate, Roxy Ballroom is Manchester’s glossy frat-house paradise. Think of an American bar game enjoying newfound popularity on this side of the Atlantic, and chances are Roxy has it on hand: beer pong, shuffleboard, dry curling, crazy golf, crazy pool and more are available to play with a range of cocktails and pizza by the slice, as well as off-peak pricing during the more spacious weekdays.

76-78 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FN / Unit R3, Withy Grove, Manchester M4 3AQ
Twenty Twenty Two

Touted as ‘the Northern Quarter’s worst-kept secret’, the aptly-named Twenty Twenty Two invites post-lockdown Manchester for a late-night ping pong party, fuelled until 4am by its range of custom cocktails. Consistently packed on weekends, this basement club is to table tennis what Flight Club is to darts (although for good measure, Twenty Twenty Two have launched the secret Dead Eye Dart Club just off its main room).

The Basement, Little Lever St, Manchester M1 1EZ
Lane7

Pledging to provide ‘bowling like you’ve never seen before’, Deansgate’s Lane7 is another jewel of Americana modification, swapping out Formica tables for booths of reclaimed wood and replacing the conventional bowling alley strip-lights with ultraviolet graffiti walls. With an expansive range of other activities—beer pong, karaoke, pool, shuffleboard, a ‘shooting pod’—and an even more expansive cocktail menu, the nationwide chain is a hive of guaranteed nocturnal fun.

Unit 3, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
Base Bar

While beer pong and crazy golf are becoming par for the course, so to speak, across Manchester’s nightlife scene, you might still assume that a gallery of more traditional baseball batting cages on the edge of the Green Quarter is a bit of a stretch. But, sure enough, Millow Street’s Base Bar offers exactly that for £30 per half hour, with customary ‘curveball cocktails’ and hot dogs on offer for a full dark fairground experience. 

5 Millow St, Manchester M4 4DR
Sixes

Similarly formatted but spiritually closer to home, Sixes Social Cricket Club injects both the batting cage and the cocktail menu with English familiarity. Relatively new to the Corn Exchange after success in London, the team behind the world-renowned Mac and Wild restaurant bring VR cricket, Yorkshire Tea Tanqueray, rhubarb spritzes and even an experimental cheese-and-crackers cocktail to Manchester’s cobbles.

Cathedral St, Manchester M4 3TR
Black Dog Ballroom

A beloved Manchester mainstay—and quite literally the cornerstone of Oldham Street—Black Dog Ballroom needs little reiteration as the go-to institute for pool, Asian-inspired snacks and meticulously-crafted cocktails which have seen customers lining the block every weekend for thirteen years. Their bowling bar, Dog Bowl, sits just off Oxford Road on the other side of the city, and offers the same cocktails in a more intimate space popular with students.

52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Gasworks Brew Bar

Built on the site of First Street’s Gaythorn Gasworks, this industrial bar & restaurant serves high-end takes on classic diner fare while shuffleboard tables line the aisles. Towering burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese and chilli dogs alongside perfect accompaniments from their in-house brewery have made for an immensely popular Manchester establishment that stays open late on weekends.

5 Jack Rosenthal St, Manchester M15 4RA
NQ64

Anyone looking for an intense nostalgia hit will no doubt be overjoyed the moment they step into either of NQ64s Manchester sites—one in the Northern Quarter, the other on Peter Street. Retro consoles, classic arcade machines and beloved character-inspired cocktails, take a step back in time and game the night away.

9 Short St, Manchester M4 1AA / 23 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
Mon 28 Mar
Words:
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Mon 28 Mar 2022