If one of those cool, quirky bars in the Northern Quarter and a down-to-earth, tatty geek of a student bar on Oxford Road were to have their eyes meet across a crowded dancefloor, The Ram & Shackle would be the resultant one-night-stand lovechild. Or rather, fraternal twins. Yes, this is a bar of two halves, two very different halves, and they could well be two separate establishments to the naked eye.
Last night when a group of us came for a drink here, we realised that these halves seem to split opinion... the locals prefer one, the students the other. One half is a little colder and more austere, with on-screen sports and ramshackle tables. Oh! I just felt like Phoebe from Friends with her Central Park/Central Perk revelation. This is where the older crowd tends to gather with pints. The other half is warmer and home to some thumping beats and lends itself well to student nights out. In the middle of all of this is a bar, with some cheap house ales and spirits, but overall what you'd find at most bars - big brand drinks. No imported unusual bits and bobs, but hey, if it sells Crabbie's it's fine by me.
This place has something of a spooky effect upon its clientele. What starts as a social drink can turn into a spontaneous belly-laugh of a tipsy night out (no wonder it's so popular with students!)... we're not sure how this happens, but the round of Jagermeisters spoke for itself. Hey, medicinal purposes you understand. Down the road from Indigo, Solomon's and Fuel and within staggering distance of my new apartment, I can easily see a few more visits happening.
3pm footie n a cheap guinness!
Could do with some sp ribs to bite.
I must add been reliable for moat ct games.
I hate to be a bit of a ball breaker, but, even as a student, the Ram is not my top spot for a drink. It always leaves me feeling a bit 'meh.' Though it is relatively cheap and there are places to sit, I find that it has positioned itself in a strange area between being a pub and a bar; it is comfortable and has a nice atmosphere, but often cranks its music up so loud you can't talk to the person next to you, but there is no sense of a dance floor or area to actually do anything with the music.
It is great for groups and couples a like, and has a larger than average outside space (which includes a stage) which is well used in summer. The chairs are fun and quirky and often cause some arguments within friendship groups. I mean, everyone wants to sit on the chair that looks like a throne, don't they?
I do love the decor of Ram - lots of old LP covers and various posters which cover the bathroom walls. Also it's worth mentioning the grafitti in the girls toilets; hilarious. You will come out with about a thousand things to tell the people you're with.
That's if they can hear you.
Superb. Situated on Wilmslow Road just between Fallowfield and Withington, this pub is well worth the extra journey from either place, and that's why everyone seems to make it.
Its owned by the same fellow who runs the Wilmslow Hotel across the road and the bar beneath it, Red Rum, but The Ram and Shackle is definitely the pick of the three. The owner has employed a number of students to run the place and they've certainly done an excellent job. It used to be an old-mans watering hole called the Drop Inn, which is what no-one ever did. Now its got literally everything you could want from a pub or bar. Drinks are cheap, and they do their own lager now, for less than £2. They hold all sorts of cultural events as the people who run it are so well connected. The quiz night is famous, though the quiz master is a bit questionable.
They have recently opened a new room at the back for music, called 'The Kitchen' which is pretty cool, though it hasn't really got going yet. It has local aspiring DJs who are well worth trying and its always free to go in, though they sometimes ask for a contribution for charity.
They've also got half a lorry in the garden, set up like a stage, which has tables and chairs and outdoor heaters, so smokers will be happy. The furniture is great and so is the décor, all done by local students and friends of the bar. Even the toilets are fantastically decorated. They also serve food at good prices and have free wi-fi. And the bar staff look nice....
It's not hard to describe how to find The Ram and Shackle: you keep heading down through Fallowfield until you find the pub on your left with the cage outside. No, I do not know why it is there, but it does serve as a useful descriptive landmark, and for that I am grateful, as it is an easy way to identify one of the more student-orientated pubs in Manchester.
Now, whether that is a good thing or not depends, most likely, on whether you are a student, or whether you like spending time with them. It attracts them with cheap drinks. Also comfortable seating and a quirky atmosphere, but mostly the cheap drinks. Think of the £1-2 range for most items on sale and you get the picture. This does unfortunately mean that on the busier student nights out, such as Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it quickly fills up to breaking point, rendering the bar a distant hope amongst a sea of bodies.
If you are looking for a seat, the best are just behind the wall opposite the bar. There you will find a haphazard arrangement of armchairs and sofas, although you will likely have to fight tooth and nail over them should you arrive later on in the evening.
So, in conclusion, pick your time wisely. Though certainly well worth a visit, if you are looking for a quiet drink in the popular evenings of Manchester, it may not be worth the trouble.
I end up in the Ram and Shackle (or Ramshack, pretty much everyone I know calls it) far more often than I'd like. As I may have mentioned before, most of my friends are yet to cut the Withington umbilical, and are lazy to boot. So, weekend after weekend, the boyf and I brave the harsh cold and the horrid Oxford Road buses, and head for the Ramshack.
Back in my first year myself and a flatmate were talked into going on an organised pub crawl. We were young and naive, and so we went. The 'starting point' was the Drop Inn, which was 100% a shithole. The pub crawl was rubbish too. Understandably, I avoided the Drop Inn like the plague, and then *poof* it became the Ram and Shackle. And it's alright. It's better than it was, certainly.
It's still skanky as all hell, but in a kind of deliberate way; the walls are adorned with graffiti art by local artists that includes nightmarish monsters and funny cartoon creatures. The furniture is odd and mismatched, and shabby, and the section more towards the back resembles a nursing home, with old armchairs and coffee tables.
The prices here are probably the reason why my student friends still hang out here. It's around £2 a drink for...pretty much anything. Which is nice for those used to pricey city centre venues. Sure, the draft lagers sometimes taste a bit..iffy, and the wine is best left alone, but at these prices, even I can't argue.
The loos are really gross and the light in one of the ladies cubicles has been broken for as long as I can remember. But, again, it's not the Hilton, so suck it up and learn to hover.
The best thing about the Ramshack, for me, is that the smoking area has been given a lot of care. Instead of an ashtray bolted on to a wall, it's a large fenced-in courtyard with liberal seating options and a lorry trailer, which houses extra tables, and protects its occupants from the elements. It's nice to be treated like a human, and not a plague-ridden leper.
The aforementioned Kitchen is a decent club venue, and fits in with the Ramshack's electro/dub/d&b music template. I'd like to see what it's like in a few months' time when more people are aware of it.
The Ramshack could be nicer, yes. The staff could be more polite. The toilets could be cleaned every now and then. The drinks could be...tastier. But as it is, it serves a purpose, providing the skint and thirsty with a cool hang out and cheap drinks.
In this place I'm always quite uncomfortably reminded of the lounge area of the Overlook Hotel and expect to see a slowly deteriorating Jack bouncing his softball about with tremendously intimidating force.
When it was The Drop Inn we stayed away. Rumours persisted that the place was a front for a brothel in the upper rooms. I cannot stress enough, however, that these were but rumours and were without exception completely unfounded. The place was out of the way, and it was always preferable to justify our avoidance as such rather than face the notion that we were simply too lazy to "commute".
One almighty overhaul later and the place feels like a haven for students. I wince when I consider the briefing that must have gone down. "Give the place Attitude. Make it Edgy." Ew.
Whatever their brief, though, they've done a remarkable job. The place feels completely individual now - a worthy anecdote to the wealth of Wetherspoon and Skream homogenity down the road and, suddenly, everyone has a reason to go somewhat out of their way. Just as suddenly, rumours of shady brothels in back rooms disappear.
I do like the Ram and Shackle but it always reminds me of the Nailgun Arms from Nathan Barley - it's sort of like a pub, yeah, but right they'll be like graffiti on the walls and stuff and like different couches, yeah.
That said there are a lot of great things about the Ram and Shackle - it's very, very cheap (sub £2 a pint) and the staff are very, very friendly (most of them being local students). There are pool tables, a big fairy light-strung outdoor smoking area and soft porn and comics pasted to the walls of the boy's toilet cubicles. It also very importantly has a good, lively atmosphere.
On the downside between the loud dubstep and the ironic hat wearing poseurs it can feel a little too cool for school in here sometimes. Also the lively atmosphere obviously means that it is very busy and so if you arrive too late you will find yourself with barely enough room to lean, never mind sit.
On the whole though I would definitely recommend the Ram and Shack (as it is known with some affection) - certainly the best place to drink between Font in Fallowfield and Solomon Grundy up in Withington village.
Love this place. Love it.
Cheap drinks and loads of places to sit, it's great for however many people you're with or whatever kind of night you're after. I love going in for a few drinks and it turning in to a whole night in there just lounging on a sofa, drinking.
There's usually some live music or a DJ in there which is quite cool and fun to listen to. Great place for a date as there's such a variety of people about you'll never be short of things/people to discuss. When the weather's good, it's nice to sit outside on the benches and it becomes a bit like a giant party outside because everyone's drunk and just chilling together.
The lighting is dimmed and really relaxing but when you go down the corridor to the toilet the light is SO bright it's quite a shock. The walls in the toilets are covered in pull outs from papers and mags so bit of reading material for you.
Get on down there - best place for group drinks in Fallow.
What a great place! It is so friendly! As soon as you walk through the door of The Ram and Shackle you feel welcomed.
The decor is completely mismatched and looks like several adjoining stage sets of people's living rooms in the 60's. Fantatsic!
The beer is cheap (£2 a pint) and the atmosphere is always vibrant. Everyone who is in there always seems to be having a good time.
They have lots of live events here too and a really good quiz with really awful prizes.
Worth a visit no matter where you are coming from in Manchester.
There is one major failing of the Ram & Shackle and that is the fact that they don't serve any ale - just a selection of lagers. However, once you get over that, then it's a great bar. It's also pretty cheap and that and the area in which it's situated make it pretty studenty.
They often have decent live music on, or so I'm told. At least the night that I was there the band was good anyway. They also have two pool tables at one end of the bar, which although in a pretty dirty condition, seemed to play pretty well.
The Ram and Shackle sums up Fallowfield in one fell swoop. Drunken students tumbling out into the street at any time of day, grimy toilets that leave you with a desire to shower after use and drinks so cheap your eyes almost bleed as you read the menu. Needless to say, I LOVE THE RAM AND SHACKLE. If you're looking for a sophisticated cocktail, remotely decent service and a 5-star lounge, then avoid at all costs. If you're looking for a real student experience in Manchester in a comfortable and quirky setting, then head straight here quicker than you can scream "£2 doubles in Happy Hour"!
Are you a student in Manchester? Yes? Well get your skinny jeans on, pick up your liquorice skins and get your artsy little arse down to the Ram and Shackle.
One of the trippier boozers of the Withington scene, the Ram and Shackle is a staple in most students' drinking schedule. Like Green Monsters in first year, the Ram and Shackle is where a lot of Manchester students cut their teeth in their second year. A weird but welcoming pub, the Ram was once a dodgy bar and hotel called The Drop Inn. We all went home for summer and came back to find someone had strung up some fairy lights and turned the music up to 11.
The bar now sports plenty of reclaimed furniture, psychedelic murals on the walls and some rather questionable bathrooms. The atmosphere is fun and I've always had a good night down here, the main let down is that they don't ever have enough bar staff on, and if you get sick of talking to other students and want to mingle with the masses this is unlikely to happen at the Ram. Not exclusively for students, the Ram and Shackle has an almost entirely student clientele which is nice in a way as the drinks are cheap, but it can get a bit boring.
With a handsome selection of smoking benches out the front, some pool tables in the back, and a great weekly quiz in the middle; the Ram and Shackle is a perfect little boozer to while away the second year boredom before the storm comes in third year. And believe me, it IS coming.
Scruffy just the way I like it.
A good student night out. I was disappointed with the beer though when I first visited, it seemed watered down, so I now only buy bottles from there.
Went on a Saturday night, really good music and a great student place with a lot of character. Would definately recommend, especially if you're sick of 99% of places playing only chart/dance music!
Rather rustic, old-fashioned exterior coupled with a dingy, dilapidated interior makes it the perfect place for small bands to come and apply their trades to the number of students which usually head here. Normally filled with locals or drunken students but drinks prices are slightly higher than other student bars and the pool room isn't much cop with it also being rather unclean and messy. Maybe with a large group, a good night seeing one of Manchester's up and coming bands gives a good night.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.