While everyone’s ruminating on the city’s sudden sad glut of closed venues, we thought it fitting to take a moment and pay our respects to the great bars we’ve loved and lost. We’re not talking pubs – that could fill a book (actually, it does) – but bars. What’s the difference? Usually some kitch retro stylings, a kickass music policy and a man in the toilets with a rack of eau de cologne and wet wipes.
The city’s independent bars are the cornerstone to any great night out. And, while we might have been (relatively) late to catch on, we’ve hosted some seriously ace spaces over the past two decades. Some have been wiped from the map altogether, some favour the aint-broke-don’t-fix formula like LaGo, Blue and PanAm, some have had intravenous soft furnishing injections (Igloo), some have had soft furnishing lobotomies (Mello Mello). Some have had more filler and retouching than Joan Rivers (Heebies) and some have morphed into new ventures which, sadly, all too often show that the theory of evolution can sometimes work backwards. And yep, we are talking about The Kiosk/Modo (although, encouragingly, evolution can work just the way it’s supposed to. Take Plummers/Bumper for example).
Here are seven we still remember with misty eyes and disturbing flashbacks. We bet we’ve missed loads. Do tell us.
Korova: The original, and still most missed music bar in town – this Ladytron/Rob Gutmann joint venture was a Fleet Street phenomenon, loosely based on the EVOL nights, and was (briefly) reason to make the trip uptown to Hope Street too. Often imitated, never bettered. We miss you and your day-glo portable TVs.
Dragon Bar: Isn’t it a shame that, in the year of the Dragon, the Dragon Bar is no longer with us (well, not as it was). This slim slither of a bar was a Berry Street hidden gem. Cosy, not posy. Great music, a whiff of the Orient, and a place run on passion. If only we had more of them these days.
Beluga Bar: The place to head before Le Bateau, circa 1995. At least, it was for us. Great subterranean bar with a nice, mixed Wood Street crowd. We once bumped into Terry Duckworth here, and he bought us a pint. What more can you ask of a bar that it turns a nasty soap star into a generous celeb?
Fab Cafe: True, it wasn’t really around long enough for us to form a lasting attachment, but this spin-off from the always-excellent Manchester venue was as fizzy and flippant as a media studies student on WKD. Candy pop, trash TV and movie memorablia gave an instant head rush to the nether reaches of Hope Street
Tea Factory: Comfortably showing that indie bars could be a touch swanky, this was a forerunner to the confusion of style over substance ventures that now line the upper reaches of Wood Street. We loved their huge wall paintings of the tea trade routes (the building was the old Mantunna Tea warehouse).
Metz Bar: Sort of gay, but sort of mixed, in that effortless, all-welcome way that Liverpool has, Metz was a Mathew Street outpost of sanity, soul, big wooden tables, and actually rather ace food. Ah, remember the days when this corner of town was still somewhere you’d happily wander through after dark?
Metropolitan: Yeah, it was big and it was messy, and sometimes it didn’t get things right. But it was the home to the breaks and electro goodness that was Lemon Lounge, sort of. So Berry Street, on the whole, is poorer for its loss. Mind you, we preferred it when it was the Black Horse and Rainbow, complete with its gleaming copper stills in the window. A brew pub to be proud of.
So, come on. Where have we missed? The Milky Way Bar? Bar Three? The original Baa Bar? BabyCream? Symphony? It’s your round…