The end is near, hopefully. Whilst we all impatiently await the easing of Covid restrictions on Monday 17 May why not check out our handy list of some of the best outdoor venues currently open for some alfresco dining and drinks with friends here in Manchester. With outdoor drinking spaces constantly in demand across the city, these venues offer both socially distanced walk-ins and online bookings through their websites.

Soak up the sun at The Pilcrow

Located in the up-and-coming NOMA District, The Pilcrow has been dubbed ‘The Pub that Manchester Built’, as it was erected with the help of unskilled volunteers. Thankfully, it’s still standing. But, anyway, it’s the outdoors bit that’s of interest to us. It has a large terrace that opens directly onto Sadler’s Yard – a newly created public square – giving it a sunny aspect. The pub has a rotating roster of cask and keg beers, plus loose-leaf teas and Ancoats Coffee. Food-wise, there are sharing boards, sandwiches, and snacks – all freshly made and sourced from local suppliers.

Sadler's Yard, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AB, Tel: 0161 834 4989
Enjoy street food and drink at Hatch

This ever-so-hip food and drink destination can be found in the student corridor, under the Mancunian Way. The traders are based in shipping containers, but there’s also an open-air courtyard which is not in the shadow of the flyover. The permanent fixtures are Öl, a nano brewery/keg bar; and Takk, a Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop. The other sellers change quite frequently, giving visitors new experiences throughout the year. Currently, it has an vegan street food experts Herbivorous and summery tapas from Abeja. The perfect place for summer drinks!

103 Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED, Tel: 0333 323 2238
Visit the hidden beer garden at The Briton’s Protection

Just along the road from Rain Bar is this bona fide Manchester icon which dates back to 1806. Surrounded by new and revamped buildings, it feels like the last bastion against modernity. However, it’s much cooler and more inclusive than its name and exterior might suggest. The small but perfectly formed beer garden at the rear can be a real sun trap… at least for a few hours a day. The pub is renowned for its whiskies and indeed whiskeys. You’re unlikely find a bigger selection anywhere in the city. Other, more summer-friendly drinks, are also available.

50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5LE, Tel: 0161 236 5895
Grab a deck chair and enjoy a cold one at First Street

Hidden away just behind Oxford Road, First Street is fast becoming a not-so-secret hangout spot for art lovers and the after work crowd. This little corner of town has plenty to offer; including Chef Simon Wood’s restaurant Wood, The Gasworks beerhouse and the increasingly popular Bunny Jacksons with their even more popular 10p chicken wings. It’s also home to city-centre arts, cinema and theatre space HOME, where folks can grab a much needed hit of culture amid the hustle and bustle of town. However its the street’s sun-trap centre that’s the real appeal here – and on a sunny evening it really comes alive with beach-style deck chairs, over-sized board games and ping-pong tables for visitors to enjoy. There’s even a giant TV screen showing Wimbledon and other sporting events during select months throughout the year.

First Street Manchester, M15 4FN
Enjoy a drink in the heart of the Northern Quarter at Stevenson Square

Stevenson Square in the heart of the Northern Quarter has become the impromptu hub of outdoor drinking in Manchester City Centre. Surrounded by the likes of Flok, music hall The Soup Kitchen, cocktail experts Dusk ’till Pawn, the subterranean Lost in Tokyo and games-hub Seven Sins – a brand new outdoor seating area has encouraged drinkers from all of the areas bars to enjoy a cold one in an airy, socially distanced layout. As if that wasn’t enough to lure you down, the square also has some of the city’s best food spots on its restaurant. Enjoy a wood fired sourdough pizza from Ply, a takeaway snack from the recently opened health restaurant Another Heart To Feed or even an iced coffee from Foundation – all under the summer sun.

Stevenson Square, The Northern Quarter, Manchester
Sip a drink by the canal at Rain Bar

Located on Great Bridgewater Street, Rain Bar is possibly one of the most popular yet relaxing city centre drinking spots. Aside from their inviting homely interior, the venue hosts a large outdoor terrace overlooking the calming Bridgewater canal. So, whether you’re going al fresco on the terrace with their pub grub/Sunday roast or indulging in some of Manchester’s finest craft lagers, Rain Bar has something to offer for everyone. The bar offers up a wide selection of W Lees cask ales including Bitter and MPA, quality wines, premium spirits and craft lager to suit all palates.

80 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5JG
Visit a Castlefield staple at Dukes 92

Operating as a 100% cashless venue, Dukes 92 can be found open daily from 11.30am right by the canal in Castlefield. The canal-side bar and dining establishment offers idyllic views of the city centre in its large open-air environment which currently runs on a first come first serve basis. Despite temporarily running on a minimised menu, the kitchen still offers up a wide variety of dishes to be enjoyed alfresco style with friends. Delicious dishes available include deli boards, pizzas, burgers, steaks and seabass which can all be washed down with a huge selection of cocktails or bottled beers/ciders from across the globe. Also available is the popular locally brewed Albert’s Brew alongside various other locally sourced real ales on tap. Dukes 92 can be found at the southern end of Deansgate and is homed roughly around 100 metres along Castle Street.

18 - 25 Castle Street, Manchester, M3 4LZ
Visit one of the city's newest spots, Escape To Freight Island

Escape to Freight Island is possibly one of the city’s most exciting new venues and it can be found just a short walk from Piccadilly Station at Depot Mayfield. The fresh urban landscape has transformed an old disused freight depot into a cultural hub of food, drink, arts and festivals. Their outdoor area ‘Platform 15’ is an open-air venue that hosts up to 600 people and is available to visit now, however they are currently taking bookings for the grand re-opening of the new indoor Ticket Hall on May 17 over on the website (in accordance with Government guidelines).

Once the entire venue is re-open, Freight Island will be back bringing together imaginative open-air bars, immersive art, festival takeovers, secret dens, innovative culture spaces and delicious street food. The reimagined industrial environment hosts socially distanced tables daily from 4pm-12am during the week and 10am-12am on the weekend with everyone welcome regardless of age. The venue is truly unique and unlike anything else in the country at this moment in time.

11 Baring Street, Manchester, M1 2PZ
Secure at table in the sun at The Oast House

Situated in Spinningfields, the popular Oast House venue is home to a large open-air courtyard which is currently operating on a walk-in service until Covid restrictions are eased further in May. Running a simplified but scrumptious food menu customers can simply stroll up to the Avenue Courtyard, take a table and indulge in the venues famous mouth-watering hanging kebabs in the sunshine. The table service offers a wide selection of beverages including refreshing cocktails such as the Pink Gin Punch and classic Strawberry Daiquiri, lagers, IPA, wines and ciders. The bar and kitchen will be open from noon until late seven days a week with no requirements to book, however the website is now open for indoor dining bookings which are set to begin on May 17.

The Avenue Courtyard, Manchester, M3 3AY
Head to the city centre at Sinclair’s Oyster Bar

It just wouldn’t be a Manchester beer garden guide without the inclusion of the infamous Manc institution, Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. Situated just by the Printworks on Exchange Square, this iconic venue dates back as far 1700’s and still to this day offers patrons a wide selection of beers, pub grub and of course oysters in their expansive outdoor city centre beer garden.

2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW
Mon 4 May
Damon Ashton
Published on:
Tue 4 May 2021