Monday, 11 June 2012
THE CREAM OF MANCHESTER.
The Cream of Manchester – Real Ale Pubs for Real People
Manchester is a well-known epicenter of top-notch drinking venues – no matter what your quaffing preference may be; from swanky, neon-lit cocktail bars to back-alley, nicotine-stained bawdy boozers there’s an atmosphere and drinks menu to suit everyone.
However, although Manchester has seen the rise of the more contemporary wine-bar style establishment over the past decade, it still holds the true, original real ale pub close to its heart. These old fashioned pubs are prized and cherished amongst the old school locals, the ineradicable scent of cigarette smoke-past and nicotine stains tan the interiors a rather warming shade of ochre. The velveteen, mahogany bar stools and couches retain the wrinkled and worn impressions of decades of the beloved regulars' derrières. Each of these traditional public houses is home to a collection of vintage brewery paraphernalia; from kitsch mirrored plaques to bakelite (now defunct) ashtrays, lay dormant aside huge wooden countertops, speckled with a history of cigarette burns and beer-stains.
Eccentric Inhabitants of Real Ale Boozers.
These pubs are beautiful. They are untouched by pretension. They unwittingly accommodate a class of people whom feel so at home, they couldn’t imagine taking their custom to any other type of drinking establishment. It’s only in these pubs you will find the true cream of Manchester (so to speak) – the eccentric drunken Priest, the failed University English professor, the good-time girl gone old. The retired and widowed barfly for whom the bar staff are his surrogate family (they share birthday and Christmas gifts and cards, he brings them photos of his estranged grandchildren, shares his wise-cracking anecdotes over an 11am pint and bacon butty).
Wine and cocktail bars seem to be the reserve of the young and hip – imported European beers and fancy concoctions of spirits are served in everything from a hollowed-out pineapple to bone china teacups, adorned with feathers and cherries. The cost of one not-so-simple cocktail will set you back about £7-8 upwards, and will leave you having to compare credit cards uk to pay for an average night out.
The décor of these cocktail bars range from stylish Gothic brothel to the clean-line modernism of neon lights and glossy white bar furnishings.
Beautiful, cool men and women slink their way through heaving crowds of similarly mannequin-esque patrons towards the bar, slam-down a fresh £20 and fiercely demand their overly-sweet, over-priced alcoholic elixirs over bowel-shaking bass-centric music, being pumped out over the speakers.
A Discerning Drinking Establishment.
Understandably, for a more discerning generation of old-time booze lovers and perhaps those whom enjoy a chat over their pints, these uber-hip bars simply intimidate and ward-off those looking for a “quiet pint”. They indeed have their place, and serve their purpose, but every aspect of the bar-scene makes it clear that without money, youth and cool, you’ll have trouble being welcomed in with open arms.
Young and old alike feel such affinity with the traditional Mancunian pub, you will struggle to find a collection of more vibrant, interesting and diverse people in any other enclosed space in the world.
Below is a small collection of some of Manchester’s most traditional and well-loved old-fashioned pubs. Some have been commandeered over the years by a younger crowd, due to financial problems, the smoking-ban or a change in ownership – however, even these pubs still retain the glory and charm (not to mention décor) of previous decades, and offer a much-needed diversion from the over-priced contemporary drinking establishments of the city.
The Castle Hotel, Oldham Street, Manchester City Centre.
The Castle Hotel first opened its doors in 1776, under the name of The Crown and Sceptre. It’s titled interior dates back to a 1930s refurbishment (and name change), and is traditionally decked-out in warm dark wood and a muted colour scheme. The pub was at one time run by lynchpin of the Mancunian drinking scene; landlady Kath Smethurst, who was so well loved, she was epitomized as a mosaic art-piece after her death in 2008, and it was at this point the pub closed its doors, awaiting a new owner. Renovation work commenced in 2010, and since the pub’s re-launch, it has become one of the busiest pub-cum-small-music-venues in the city centre.
The Turnpike, Wilmslow Road, Withington.
The Turnpike has one of the most undoubtedly unwelcoming facades ever seen. Its stone-clad, flat-frontage and darkened, mottled windows give the impression that there’s nobody home, or if they are, they certainly aren’t taking visitors right now. However, if you dare take one step inside, you will realise that this Sam Smith’s pub is a thriving vestibule of local colour and hosts an interior of untouched vintage charm, so much so that CAMRA recently awarded the pub with historic status.
The Angel Pub, Angel Street, Manchester City Centre.
The Angel Pub is situated close to one of Manchester’s most historic sites – Angel Meadow; a pretty inner-city park that was once a slum and burial ground for the poorest, most diseased inhabitants of 19th Century Manchester. Previously dubbed “Hell upon Earth”, the area has obviously changed immensely since those times, and The Angel Pub is no exception. The pub hosts a huge range of locally brewed specialty ales, from small independent breweries, and along with it’s warm interior and friendly staff, the pub managed to bag the title of CAMRA's North Manchester Real Ale Pub of the Year for 2010. The Angel Pub is a fantastic and lively place to meet friends, no matter what age, you can dine, and perhaps even indulge in a sing-along around the pub’s piano. Submitted by Imogen.