Nowadays it’s all about ‘experiential drinking’

There is a whole generation of people who have reached drinking age unable to imagine simply sitting in a pub with a newspaper (a what?) silently contemplating the meaning of life over a pint. No phones, no selfies and no social media. Just a pint, a pal and a packet of pork scratchings. There was always darts and dominos if you needed a bit of extra fun, along with a go at a lone slot machine or a glance at the telly in the top corner. 

Things have changed and a simple pint in a quiet corner is harder to come by as venues keep dreaming up ways to keep people entertained while they drink.

Here’s a round up of some of the city centre drinking venues that offer a lot more than a bag of roasted peanuts along with your drink.

A round of shots 

What? Virtual shooting

Where? Point Blank Shooting, Basement, 78, Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FW

2019 08 06 Point Blank Manchester

Black leather booths and dark, polished wood give this basement bar the air of a shady underworld where you might expect to bump into a Corleone or two. You’re more likely to find a group of lads getting giddy on a stag night, though. Thankfully, no real guns are fired here. It’s a big screen virtual shooter experience. 

A visit to Point Blank could make for an interesting date night but most of the clientele are groups out for a work do, a stag night, or a birthday. With with over 200 shooting scenarios to choose from, you’ll probably want to stay longer than the one hour minimum shooting time, especially if you’re in a large group. 

Themed cocktails include a Sniper, a Ricochet and a Hot Shot. There’s no bang bang chicken on the menu but there are double barrel hot dogs and various hunks of meat glazed in Bulleit bourbon. I wonder if desserts include t’rifle? While this is an over 18s venue most of the time, they do ‘family friendly’ sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings for over 10s. Prices start at £30 for two people for an hour on a weekday.

A pitch perfect pint

What – Bowling and Karaoke

Where - All Star Lanes, Great Northern, 235 Deansgate, M3 4EN

2019 08 06 All Star Lanes Karaoke

Earlier this month, the popular boutique bowling alley, bar and restaurant re-launched with a newly designed industrial style entrance hall, a revamped private room and the addition of two karaoke booths making it the one-stop destination for an active night out.

Whet your pipes with a signature cocktail in one of the new soundproof rooms complete with a state-of-the-art karaoke system with over 60,000 songs to choose from. The smaller room hosts up to eight guests and the larger room has a capacity of twelve. Guests can sing to their hearts’ content with an introductory launch offer of £5 per person per hour until the end of August.

All Star Lanes offers a whole host of special deals throughout the week; Groundhog Mondays offer two games of bowling for £10, two burgers for £10 and two hours of karaoke for just £5. King Pin Wednesdays are for bowling aficionados, bowl and dine for free with a score over 180.

Amuse yourselves 

What - Retro arcade games

Where - NQ64, 2 Short St, Manchester M4 1PW

Nq64 Bar61

NQ64 opened its doors earlier this year round the back of vintage emporium Afflecks. What better accompaniment to a cartoon-emblazoned can of craft beer is there than a game of Super Mario Brothers? This ultraviolet painted Northern Quarter dive bar is packed with vintage arcade machines featuring classic games like Tekken, Mortal Kombat and Double Dragon as well as cartoon spin-offs like The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

The theme continues with appropriately named cocktails like Princess Peach, Mad Max and E.T-ini served in tetris-esque glasses which can be paired with a bag of Space Invaders. Tokens for play are £5 for fifteen and can be purchased at the bar. No wonder it’s always packed, man. 

Ping Pong Pool

What – Booze and ball games

Where - Roxy Ballroom, 1st Floor, 76-78 Deansgate, M3 2FN

170412 Roxy Ballroom

There’s little option to just sit and have a quiet drink at this purpose-built event emporium – and if you tried, you’d probably end up with a ping pong ball in your pint.  This over 18’s playground incorporates beer pong battle stations, Olympic standard ping pong tables, American pool tables, 18 foot tournament standard shuffleboards plus a huge eighteen-hole indoor mini golf course.

Don’t get board

What - Virtual darts

Where - Flight Club, Ship Canal House, 98 King St, Manchester M2 4WU

Flight Club Shoreditch

Remember when all you looked forward to on a Sunday night was your TV dinner on your lap and the weekly instalment of Bullseye? Would the challengers go home with a luxury caravan or just their BFH? Scintillating stuff. If you still hanker after a bit of bully but don’t tend to frequent pubs that still have dartboards, Flight Club might be just the ticket. 

The fun revolves around virtual dartboards with a variety of different types of games in which you can compete against your mates. A bit like in a bowling alley, your shame or glory (along with a bewildered selfie) is emblazoned on TV screens for all to see. 

With a huge, Victorian circus themed bar and an extensive menu of small and large plates, pizzas, fries and salads, it's easy to make a night of it. Grab a load of doubles and see if you can hit some trebles. 

Simulated Swings

What – Top of the range virtual golf simulators

Where - The Range, Leftbank, Spinningfields, M3 3AN

180416 Albatross Arnold Review Img 0730 Img 0711

The Range is an all-weather virtual clubhouse experience incorporating the latest state-of- the-art golf technology. Founded by Andrew McLoughney, a former semi-professional golfer, The Range Spinningfields has five golf simulators that sit alongside Albatross & Arnold, the stylish bar and lounge.

GC2 with Head Measurement Technology collects data directly from the golf ball, giving you exceptional levels of accuracy and swing analysis. The crystal clear high definition simulator has over 100 of the best courses in the world available to play.

User-friendly Swing Catalyst software allows you to capture live video from a range of high-speed cameras that provide up to 500 frames per second. The video analysis suite is equipped with every imaginable drawing tool, slow motion playback, video overlay and side by side comparison.

Down your hole in one

What – Indoor crazy golf

Where - Junkyard Golf, 2 First Street, M15 4RP

Junkyard Golf Club 160114 Junkyardgolfclub 013

This junk-filled weird wonderland offers a unique indoor crazy golf experience complete with cocktails, music and surprises round every corner. All Junkyard Golf Club courses are created from pre-loved items, random shizzle, and weird junk.

The spiritual hometown of Junkyard Golf Club in Manchester is where it all began with three different nine-hole crazy golf courses for groups to putt their way through; carnival themed Bozo with dark fairgrounds, circus freaks and twisted clowns; Gary with towers of tyres, written-off cars and auto-junk in our scrapyard challenge; or jungle themed Pablo - an excursion into polluted tropical madness.

Hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and pick ’n’ mix dishes are available at the main bar. Under 18s are only permitted entry at certain times.