It is understood Novus had got through to the second round of bidding for the five-strong chain and offered £17m for the Jillian McLean-led business.
M&C believes one or two private-equity players are now left in the running for the Imbiba Partnership-backed group.
Drake & Morgan appointed PwC to review its strategic options for the next stage of its growth last year. It is thought that the group is hoping to realise a price closer to the high teens/£20m mark.
With Novus having left the table, a McLean-led, private equity-backed management buyout of the group looks the likelier end result, although there have been suggestions that the business could be taken off the market and left to continue its steady expansion in the capital if price expectations are not met.