It’s finally 5PM. Work has finished, and you’re ready to go out for a drink in Manchester. Northern Quarter is the perfect place to go – if you work in the city centre you can be there in less than 5 minutes and there are lots of bars to choose from. Problem is, they’re all a bit… samey. Sure, if you like a hipster crowd and pricey cocktails you’ll be spoilt for choice, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more interesting? That’s where Bar 21 comes in. Established in 2006, Bar 21 is a music & movie themed bar that is designed to impress. It looks nondescript from the outside but when you walk through the doors you’re transported… to a place that looks a little like the iconic diner/restaurant from Pulp Fiction. Definitely something different, then.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the human-sized alien and predator statues (which are even more terrifying after one too many cocktails). The bar is filled with movie and TV memorabilia that everyone will recognise, and the walls are covered with retro film posters. There is a strong 80’s influence to the bright, colourful bar, and the seats are as comfortable as they come. The room is also filled with 60’s style booths, giving big groups a bit of privacy. The venue looks quite small when you first walk in, but there are actually two floors so it's pretty spacious – perfect for a busy Saturday night. Although a retro movie bar isn’t anything new, this is probably the best of the best. With expensive props everywhere you look, this bar is bound to impress any film buffs.
Music: Indie, Rock, Soul, Motown
Dress Code: Smart/Casual
Train Station: Manchester Victoria
Address: Bar 21, 10 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1DH
Lots of themed bars have sub-par music and drinks, but Bar 21 doesn’t disappoint. They serve a good range of beers and wines, but the best options on the menu are the cocktails. We ordered a few classic Mojitos, and two of the bar’s themed drinks; a 'Rick Grimes' and a 'Rising Damp'. Thankfully the 'Rick Grimes' cocktail didn’t taste like zombie flesh and dirt – in fact, it was absolutely delicious. The music was mostly Indie with a bit of Rock thrown in, but they also have live music every weekend, regularly hosting some of the most talented DJs in Manchester. This is clearly a bar that wants to be the best in every area, and they seem to be succeeding.
Bar 21 mostly attracts film fanatics, which isn’t very surprising. It's pretty evidently targeted at the classic 'nerd' community so it'd be totally normal to see a table of people all sat on their Gameboys in complete silence here. This is actually a great thing, as you can do anything you want in this bar without feeling the slightest bit judged by anyone. Study, eat, day-drink to wash away the lonlieness... you know, the fun stuff. We recommend that you go on a weeknight as happy hour is on every night until 8, and during the week the bar hosts a different event each night, from quiz nights to giveaways and BOGOF drink offers. The vibe is pleasant and friendly, which might be helped by the staff. They are perhaps the best staff in Northern Quarter – maybe even Manchester. They were quick, friendly and efficient, making them gods among men. Gods who get you white-girl wasted on rum and fruit juice.
If you’re into films and pop culture, Bar 21 is right up your alley. The drink prices are similar to other bars in the Northern Quarter, but happy hour every night makes your money go a lot further than you would expect. Paying the bill can be a slightly painful in some NQ bars, but you’ll have a smile on your face when you hand over your cash at Bar 21. Plus, with the strength of the cocktails, you won’t need more than 5 before you think that you're actually Sigourney Weaver in another epic sci-fi. Oh, and if you’re wondering why the place is called Bar 21, we don’t have an answer for you. We even asked our wonderful bartender, and their response was “Erm… Honestly? I don’t have a f*cking clue.” Fair enough.