So you’ve finished with that kid’s game called secondary school and are off to bat for the big league - university. Yes, it is pretty terrifying; what happens if no one likes you and your new Nike Air Max’s? Or they laugh at your trendy yet oh so practical backpack from Urban? While we can’t help you with the minutiae social details (none of which matter, trust us), we can help you find the best, most fun and inexpensive places to enjoy your time studying in one of the greatest cities on earth.
1. The cheapest cocktails in Manchester at The Font
Listen up and listen hard because this is pretty much all you need to know during your three years in higher education: The Font’s cocktails start from £2. This means you can still blow your measly student budget on course books that will never see the light of day and have money left over for a daiquiri. With locations in Fallowfield and on Oxford Road, both cocktail bars are buzzing caverns of eclectic interiors and cosy corners to hide in. To top things off, the food menu is just as affordable as the drink list - burgers start at £5.50 - and there are regular quizzes and live music.
2. The messiest student night at Joshua Brooks
You are going to hear the name Joshua Brooks a lot over the next few years, and no, it’s not a fit, young, available lecturer (they are mythical creatures that don’t exist), it’s the name of the messiest, maddest student club. The club throws weekly events in their downstairs space; it’s hot, it’s sweaty and most of importantly, it’s a damn good night. Fun fact to impress your new mates: The Chemical Brothers (then known as Dust Brothers) started their career DJing here.
3. Shot, shot, shotssss at Baa Bar
A fact you will learn quickly at university is that drinking games are more or less compulsory, used to force bonding in the form of slurred secret-telling and teary ‘I can’t believe we just met’s. With shooters from £1, a shot wheel of fortune and deals on cocktails, Baa Bar in Deansgate Locks is an affordable and lively spot. Located in a railway arch, the bar is open until 4am on Friday and Saturday, has free entry and frequent DJ nights.
4. Get to know your housemates at Dog Bowl
What better than a dose of healthy competitive spirit to bond with the people you will be forced to share a space with over the next year? Dog Bowl just off Oxford Road has all you need to turn stranger danger into mates for life, with bowling, booze and burgers to help ease the social tension. There's five bowling lanes which can be hired throughout the week and the restaurant serves American-diner style food; the best part? Students get 25% off bowling and food if they pick up a dog tag.
5. Take your parents to Trof
You’ve been at uni a while now and your parents are keen to see how much you’ve matured and if you are basically doing alright at this life thing. Dinner at Trof will show them that you have got it down. It’s in the arty Northern Quarter - demonstrating that you have left your student confines at least once; it’s got a simple and homely menu - nothing says grown-up quite like poached eggs and wild mushrooms; and the interiors are pared-back with bare-brick walls and old-school wooden tables, all very relaxing for when you tell them how that first is coming along.
6. Cure your hangover at Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
The Hangover - a nemesis that will haunt you throughout your university career, striking in the middle of a two-hour lecture, impairing your vision, weakening your stomach and wobbling your walk. There’s only one thing that can stave off this foe and that is comfort food. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese are at the top of their game when it comes to melt-in-your-mouth, gooey goodness that will knock you back into shape, with everything from nine-hour BBQ pulled pork to mac n’ cheese between their bread, and most importantly it won't break the bank.