Leeds knows how to have a good drink. The city is home to award-winning mixologists creating cocktails you just can’t get anywhere else. We’ve got some great bars here – some which are a little hidden and you have to go looking for them. From almonds in Greek olive oil at 2am to rum-spiked espresso martinis served with pancakes – here are a few of my favourite cocktail bars in Leeds.
The ultimate late-night bar – you can come here at 2am and they’ll still be serving charcuterie boards. Its fun and cosy with a fun playlist and the cocktail menu is great. There’s also a small kitchenette where they prepare bar snacks, paying homage to the humble beginnings of The Watermark – the owners’ own kitchen (check out their Instagram page to see how awesome it looked!) They hold movie nights upstairs, there’s wine, beer, board games, you name it, this is just straight up a great place to hang out and it’s always buzzing.
Favourite drink: Asa Akira
Favourite bar snack: almonds in Greek olive oil (which is from their own farm in Greece and is also available to buy!)
3 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds LS2 8JP
The latest addition to Leeds’ bar scene and brought to you by the same people behind Roland’s and The Domino Club. This bar has serious interior goals – art deco lampshades and mirrors; high ceilings; wooden panels; marble table tops – all hidden by the drawn blinds at the front. With candles and low-fi music playing, the atmosphere is very chill. Bar snacks include Gruyere and shallot croquettes, gin-soaked olives, smoked mackerel arancini and cheeseboards, and the cocktail menu is a combination of classic and innovative – plus, the shelves of booze actually ‘slide’ into view once day turns into night, as during the day, this place serves brunch and North Star coffee!
Favourite drink: French 75
7 Duncan Street, Leeds LS1 6DQ
Another bar with a homely feel; from wooden floorboards to winding stairs, you walk in and instantly feel at ease. More high ceilings, with exposed brickwork, floor-to-ceiling windows and a cosy outdoor patio at the back (lovely in the summer!) It’s my go-to place for great cocktails, great beer and espresso martinis (which are hailed as the best in Leeds!)
Favourite drink: Espresso martini of course!
39 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BT
Award-winning mixology and true attention to detail, right from the drinks down to the furniture and the blue and pink menus (to evoke a relaxing, calm atmosphere). There are romantic stories detailed behind every cocktail, alongside considered sensory descriptions of the taste, to aid your decision when choosing what to drink. Also, an artist was commissioned to create the quirky illustrations that are seen on the walls, the coasters, the menu, etc. Cocktails include ‘Cut Grass’, consisting of Ketel One vodka, pepper, basil and orange flower, and the ‘109 Miles to Filey’ which evokes ‘a walk down the Yorkshire Coastline’ with seaweed distillate gin, wild flower eau du vie ‘seafoam’ and an edible pebble.
Favourite Drink: Bazar Daquiri
12 South Parade, Leeds LS1 5AL
The cocktail menu at Hedonist is extraordinary, innovative and so much fun. They create menus that showcase the sights, smells, history and culture of different parts of the world. Their previous cocktail menu was based on Spain and featured one of my favourite cocktails ever – ‘Breakfast in Seville’. Gin Mare (my favourite gin), blood orange liqueur, blood orange shrub and lemon, served in a small, bright orange tin with a triangle of marmalade toast on the side. I drank three in a row. Their latest cocktail menu is based on the East Coast of America and features my new favourite cocktail ‘Breakfast in New York’ (notice a theme?) Bacardi Carta Fuego rum, banana liqueur, coffee and oat milk served in a beige disposable coffee cup (they write your name on in sharpie, Starbucks-style) with a pancake, blueberries and maple syrup on the side. Equivalent to a spiked iced coffee and definitely a breakfast I could get used to.
Favourite Drink: So close…but it’s got to be Breakfast in Seville.
156 Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LY
A barbershop-cum-bar (the barbers is now upstairs and the bar/cafe takes pride and place downstairs). According to the owners, the place is inspired by Parisian and Lyon wine bars and jazz cafes and you can definitely see that – the walls are painted jade green, with some William Morris wallpaper also thrown in; chairs and tables are deep mahogany brown with a couple of studded leather seats with sheepskin-style rugs thrown over them. There are dripping candles, plants, stain-glassed lampshades hanging over the bar, art on the walls and jazz music playing. It’s calming and has a very tranquil atmosphere. Lots of wine and beer on offer and a seasonal changing cocktail menu.
Favourite Drink: An Autumn cocktail named ‘Orchard’.
16 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU
The East Village
The drinks here are different. There will absolutely be something on the menu, that you’ve never tried before. It’s fun and quirky, very affordable plus, it’s where Holy Mountain is permanently-based so – TACOS!
Favourite Drink: Chai Chai
47-49 Brudenell Grove, Leeds LS6 1HR