A couple of weekends ago, I went on a bar crawl in Manchester City Centre. There's nothing unusual about that, I hear you cry. So perhaps I should give it its rightful name – it was actually a "Bark Crawl," meaning that pooches were welcomed along too. My other half was unconvinced as we headed into the city centre with our old border collie cross, Ebony. I think he was expecting someone to jump out and shout "Gotcha" as we walked through this trendy area of Manchester, searching for our first bar.
The whole idea of the Bark Crawl is to introduce you to the bars in Manchester which welcome dogs with open arms. More people than ever before are living in the city centre, and yes some of them own dogs and it's great to see that the city centre is welcoming our four legged friends.
The walk is run by The Liquorists, who started running trails in Manchester back in 2010, to show off some of the City's best bars and the world's best spirits. The Bark Crawl is a relatively new addition to their offering, and I have to say, it's a brilliant concept. There are four bars on the walk, and at each one, all humans can each enjoy a cocktail, whilst the canines are treated to doggy treats and yes....doggy beer. There's also a chance on the walk to take a pit stop so your dogs can stretch their legs, have a sniff and do what dogs do.
Plenty of treats on hand for your four-legged friend
Yes, the weather is not usually kind in Manchester and I expected the smell of wet dog to follow us to each bar, but as it happens, on this particular day, the weather was beautiful and we found ourselves sitting outside at the majority of the bars. I was assured that dogs are welcomed inside with open arms at all of these bars though.
The event started at The Liquor Store in Manchester's new and upcoming First Street district. Any feeling of standing out that we had diminished as soon as we met the rest of the doggy crew. Now we really did stand out, but it didn't matter so much – at least we weren't on our own. The hosts Simon and Tom were friendly, laid back, and really got to know everyone and make them feel at home. The dogs tucked into their doggy treats and beer (actually Ebony put us to shame and ate her treats and everyone else's too), whilst we all settled down over the first of our drinks, Nettle Gin with Hibiscus Tonic – not something I would have even thought of ordering, but it was delicious and refreshing, and exactly the reason to go on a walk like this.
The Doggy Beers and Nettle Gin went down much too quickly, so it was on to our next bar – No 1 Watson Street, which is located just next to the Great Northern Warehouse. Again, we sat outside; it was too beautiful not to. A different pack of doggy treats was distributed, much to the delight of our greedy pup, and we welcomed drink number 2, an Aperol Spritz. It was another drink that I have never tried, but we were informed by our knowledgeable host that it's a combination of Prosecco, Aperol and Soda Water and again, it was delicious. We talked a little of the bar scene in Manchester, and I discovered how little I know about the spirit scene as yes, I'm a self-confessed wine drinker, married to a beer drinker. I suspect this may change after this walk though for both of us.
Before heading to our next bar, we took a quick pit-stop at the Roman ruins by Castlefield, where we let the dogs have a run around off their leads, and they all got on splendidly. It wouldn't have even occurred to me to walk the dogs here, even though I know the area well, but there were other dogs around too, a sign that things are changing in Manchester.
Afterwards, it was on to The Wharf, bar number three on our list, located in the historic Castlefield area. Owned by Brunning and Price, I should have known it would be dog-friendly as I often visit one of their other pubs, Worsley Old Hall which also caters well for dogs. This time, we retreated inside, as due to the pub's birthday celebrations, the outside area was heaving. We got to experience the beautiful building and I discovered another reason why a walk like this is a fabulous idea. The bar was incredibly busy but we just took a seat, whilst Simon made sure the dogs had treats and water and fought for our next round of drinks; the perfect summer drink, Pimms and Lemonade.
We finished off our crawl at the Dockyard, which is located in one of Manchester's thriving areas Spinningfields. Our final drink of the afternoon (actually it was evening by this point) was Elderflower gin with alcoholic iced-tea, the perfect finale to a sumptuous afternoon in the sun. Ebony was in seventh heaven and shared the title of Dog of the Day along with fellow companion, Bambi. I have no doubt if dogs could talk, she would be asking to go on the next one. I on the other hand, am eyeing up one of the Liquorists' cruises.
Be warned though; after an afternoon spent in doggy heaven, it's easy to think that every bar is as accepting of dogs. Inspired by our afternoon, we headed off to find some dinner in the city with our four legged friend and settled on Home Sweet Home, where we were told we could sit outside with Ebony. As the sun disappeared, I found myself getting chilly and we were told we wouldn't be allowed inside with a dog. Let's hope more places in Manchester begin to welcome dogs, as it the case in so many European cities. But for now, there's definitely a place for ventures like The Bark Crawl.
So if you fancy a dog-friendly pub crawl, you want to find out more about your booze, or simply want to meet a variety of people from different walks of life, I'd definitely recommend heading out on a Bark Crawl. If you don't have a dog, don't fret, there's no need to miss out. The Liquorists also run cocktail cruises (the most popular bring The Gincident), trails through the city, and dare I say it, they've just launched their Christmas Cruises.
To find out more about what events the Liquorists have coming up in the next few months, visit their website.