If there's one thing that Manchester enjoys, it's sitting out in the sun. Take yesterday, for example: everywhere with outside seating was packed full of cheerily pink, beer-drinking Mancunians - with my own choice of outdoor fun being the Great Northern Summer Cider Garden, where I was lucky enough to get to play with Tom Sneesby's dog (not a euphemism, incidentally) - but those without outside seating were not to be left out either, and I very much salute the two enterprising souls on my road who had simply moved their dining chairs onto the front step in order to take the air.
By and large, though, it is perhaps more civilised to take advantage of a venue with a garden, or a terrace, that is likely to offer both comfy chairs and the promise of regular cold beer - like the one you see above. This is the covered, heated terrace at Atlas Bar, that iconic old stalwart located under the Deansgate railway arches where I have drunk many a pint over the years; now, though, it's all refurbished, and shiny, and pretty sexy looking - as a friend of similar vintage to myself remarked on seeing the terrace photo, it really has changed.
Whether the changes are for the better will be a matter of opinion, of course - those with fond memories of its slight seediness may find that some of the atmosphere has been lost, particularly since it might attract a different crowd from now on. The south-facing terrace is a huge plus though, and food is back on the menu, and the range of interesting drinks is - if anything - wider than ever, with a particular focus on gin (more than 50 to try - hurrah) and world beers. I also very much enjoy going through a toilet door only identified by a large, gorgeous picture of Debbie Harry (the boys get Michael Caine), which is a huge ego boost to a slightly faded blonde such as myself (I went through the door! It was the right one! Ergo I AM Debbie Harry!) who has had a few drinks.
And if any doubt remains that the old heart of Atlas Bar is still beating safe and sound beneath the refurb, I can confirm that they certainly know how to throw a party. Last Thursday night I danced to 90s tunes, ate pork pies and pickled onions, kissed Bez (who, mysteriously, seemed convinced that Mr Liz was one of his oldest and dearest friends) and drank Aperol Spritzes - which, incidentally, Atlas plan to run an offer on over the summer, with prices looking likely to be set around the £4 mark for a limited period. AND you get to be Debbie Harry or Michael Caine, even after all that gin...
- Atlas Bar is at 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY; tel. 0161 834 2124.