49 -51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA
The weather outside is horrible- I could write books on Manchester’s weather, I swear. We duck into Cane and Grain to escape the weather and check out one of the city’s most well-known bars. Spread over three floors, Cane and Grain has been open for over two years and is one of the most central places in Northern Quarter, Manchester’s ‘night out’ zone.
It’s free to get in, as are most bars in Manchester, and it’s open till 2am every night, meaning it’s a great place to start or end your night. Not only this, but it’s essentially three separate bars, making it easy to spend your entire night here. Each one has a different vibe and we’re excited to see what this place is about and why it’s such a favourite hangout in the city.
The Rib Joint & Tap Room
The bottom floor is a beer room- the actual Cane and Grain bar. With 13 draught beers and over 40 cans or bottles available, one could just stay here all night trying them all. This is helped by the friendly vibe of the bar. The music is mainly 80’s skater rock and it pays homage to the skate shops of Northern Quarter including Cast that used to reside in this building. One wall is made entirely of smashed up decks which are turned into tiles, and it also has more skate decks adorning local artist’ work.
Not only is the style and atmosphere of the ground floor perfect, it’s one of the few places in NQ that does cheap beers. Jobe and Lyndon, who own the bar, have been in this scene for a long time, they have fun with it but they mean business. And with this comes having enough of a rapport with brewers that they can offer a damn good beer at a damn good price. Having said that, of course they range. The house beer, a German lager, is £3.90 and the other range from this to £5 a pint, which for NQ is great. Some of the bottles are a little more expensive but this is due to a lot of the beers being American beers. Beavertown is a popular brewery for Manchester, with its creative art on the cans and a beer for everyone it’s no surprise that a few of their styles are stocked here.
What’s even better is the fact that while I sit and have a drink on the ground floor – I opt for Caple Rd, a canned cider that I adore – there is a screen that plays old skate videos, with a PlayStation hooked up so you can have a game of Tony Hawks while you drink.
Science and Industry
Upstairs on the first floor is the Science and Industry bar. There is an air of speakeasy-ness about it. One of the unique features of this floor is the science lab. From dehydrating fruit to taking the colour out of rum, Massimo, one of their bartenders is doing stuff in this bar that nowhere else is doing.
As we begin to decide on what our second round should be, we hear a lively jazz tune in the background and it sets the mood for our next drink. We decide to go for an exciting new drink starting with the Lady of Leisure. This gin based cocktail is garnished with an egg-shell and a mound of dry ice that goes down as smooth as anything. As we gulp this down, Jobe turns to us and asks if we want to hear the big news. Of course, we do. We’re all about exciting news. From behind the bar, Jobe grabs a bottle and passes it over. Recently, the owners went over to America and visited a big distillery, they decided they wanted their own whisky barrel for the Cane and Grain. So where else do you go for the best? You go to Jack Daniels, you choose your barrel and you buy it. The bottle we’ve been handed is the first one. It’s signed by master Distiller Jeff Arnett and also has the tasting notes written on the bottle. It’s smooth, really smooth. It doesn’t burn, it’s not overpowering and it goes down like a treat
This bar also plays host to an open mic night on a Sunday night which is growing in popularity each week, and on a Tuesday they hold an evening called Artist Past which offers discount and deals for local artists.
The Liar’s Lounge
As we venture upstairs to have a look at the final floor, we are disappointed to see it isn’t open yet. The Liar’s Lounge, as the top floor is known, is one of the most ‘tiki’ bars I’ve ever seen – and I drink rum, so I’ve seen a few. Above the bar, the neon sign shouts “TIKI AS FUCK” and apparently it’s party central up here. With guest DJ’s and being one of only twenty bars in the UK that are a plantation pineapple bar, this is somewhere special. It’s open late, not as late as its sister bar The Liars Club, across town (open till 4am) but late enough that those out in NQ have somewhere to go and party.
This bar caters to everyone. After a 12-hour shift, this place offers every option for unwinding across its’ three floors. It’s known for ‘good times and great drinks’. From London to New York, anyone visiting Manchester that understands and appreciates their alcohol will come here for a night of partying, no matter what your drink of choice is, and no matter what day of the week it is.
Photography By Beth Halfpenny