Deansgate Locks is well known for its party bars overlooking the canal. At the end of the strip a new independent venue has come to town, run by a couple of industry professionals that have been part of the Manchester bar scene for years. Lock 91 is housed in the old lock keeper's cottage and offers something a little bit different to your average Deansgate Lock's drinking spot.
Head round the side of the strip and under the railway bridge and you’ll find the entrance to Lock 91. The ground floor houses a small bar with a separate pool room provided with love by Jack Daniels – a very welcome addition to the venue. Downstairs in the lounge you'll be treated to some large chesterfield sofas, padded church pews and cool steamer trunk tables along with another stylish bar. In addition they have a huge outside terrace area that the team have big plans to utilise in the Summer; and upstairs is a huge club room decked out in 1920’s grandeur open till 2am at weekends for drinking and dancing.
The Atmosphere & Clientele
I headed down to Lock 91 on a relaxed Tuesday night and there were a few regulars enjoying a quiet drink in the charming setting. I was immediately greeted by the barman whose welcoming and friendly style helped show why the venue is a midweek hit with local business people and young professionals. Lock 91 is clearly a bar that prides itself on customer service; everyone working seemed genuinely happy to help and went out of their way to make us feel very welcome, always a winner with me. The music added to the laid back atmosphere and whilst enjoying my cocktail (more about that later) I watched as each customer was greeted with the same friendly attitude and great service. For a bar that aspires to bring back the ‘cheers’ factor it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Lock 91 doesn’t have a food offering and only team up with trusted suppliers to cater for private events and parties, so my concentration was firmly on the drinks, lucky me. With a good selection of beers, spirits and wines, the bar even included IPA on tap. However my favourite thing about visiting great independent bars is that it’s often the case that you manage to meet the minds behind the cocktails and Lock 91 was no exception. Andi and Ryan (the boys in charge) talked through some of their favourites which included the interestingly named 'Dirty Silk Panties' and the 'Pink Polar Bear'. I opted for the more demurely names 'Georgia Tennessee' – a mix of Southern Comfort Cherry, Makers Mark and Bitters which was utterly delicious.
A huge selection of Cocktails are available, and the guys said they were even happy to whip up a classic if they couldn’t tempt visitors with a home made choice. It was a shame I hadn’t made it down at the weekend with friends as they had an extensive list of 'Swing Tops' – sharer cocktails for two or more people served in Jack Daniel barrels or treasure chests. Luckily I had made it for the midweek offers which are available every Tuesday to Friday till 9pm. With pints and bottled beer under £3 and £3.75 cocktails you are already doing well; but to top it off when you buy two large glasses of wine you get the rest of the bottle free! Lock 91 is a budget friendly choice for an after work drink.
Lock 91’s mission was to create a bar that makes its customer feel totally welcome and comfortable, whether it's for a midweek drink or a full-on weekend party. With its unique design over three floors there is plenty of space to explore; they also have weekly events with outside promoters, offer private hire and with the huge outdoor terrace it’s certainly a venue that’s got a lot to offer. For those of you in Manchester that don’t often venture down towards to the Locks and tend to keep yourself occupied in the Northern Quarter I would recommend giving this venue a try. For the rare treat of being served by a team who are clearly passionate about looking after their customers – and experiencing a 'Trannie', the world's first cocktail made with beer and tequila, get down to Lock 91! Enjoy Manchester.