5 Old-School Drinking Dens You Need in Your Life

· Joseph Sheerin · Food and Drink

Why not step back in time for your next tipple?

tabula rasa back bar

Swap the flavour of the month for these five wonderful Leeds bars that offer quality quaffing in watering holes full of old-world charm.

You don’t have to dream of reliving the glory days of years past, not when there are Leeds bars that are a real-life portal, transporting you to the good old days one step and sip at a time. These old-school drinking dens take the best of yesteryear and bring it into the modern day, whether you’re supping local beers in a Victorian-era pub or ordering up creative cocktails in a 1920s-style speakeasy.



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The oldest pub in Leeds city centre is the ultimate old-school drinking den for beer lovers. You’ll find Whitelock’s hidden down an alley off The Headrow, where it’s been since the 18th century. The decor today is the same as it’s been since the Victorian era – think brass-topped furniture, tiled bars, old brewery mirrors. It’s the perfect setting to work through their extensive array of brews, both on cask and keg, many of which are local. Their pub grub is worth visiting for too.

Whitelock’s Ale House, Turks Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.

Blind Tyger

Blind Tyger

To get a whiff of that famed Prohibition-era rebellion, a visit to Blind Tyger is a must. Take the almost-secret staircase up to an enchanted hidey-hole where mixology dreams come true. You can snag a dark leather booth amidst the extravagant wallpaper and vintage furnishings before ordering up one of their cocktails, all thought up by their expert mixologists. Try the Wake & Bake, their twist on the espresso martini, made with banana bread-infused Doorly’s Rum.

Blind Tyger, 5a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa

Velvet bar stools, art deco embellishments, rich green walls set against a glimmer of gold in every direction – Tabula Rasa evokes 1920s New York with a modern edge at the heart of Leeds. It’s the brainchild of Filippos Filippopoulos, a noted local bartender who has created a menu of elevated concoctions, the kind to make your heart and palate soar. For a glimpse of their glory, try the Al Capone, a Woodford Reserve bourbon-based take on an Old Fashioned.

Tabula Rasa, 8 Eastgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7JL.

The Domino

Domino Club

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It doesn’t get more old-school than a jazz club hidden below ground, behind a barbershop. The clandestine nature of The Domino gives way to an unerring sense of cool once you wind your way into this subterranean delight. Leather booths, flickering candles and a stage from where live music rings out nightly – it’s a dream come to life. Then there’s the cocktails – originals sit alongside classics, but veering off-menu is a doddle for their talented mixologists.

The Domino Club, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

The Maven

The Maven

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The simple, blank set of doors that cover the staircase up to The Maven do not even hint at the old-world drinking joy that lies within. This is a sumptuous bar, all Prohibition-era glitz, more akin to a roaring 20s speakeasy than a night on Call Lane. Find a booth or take over one of their snugs, tap your toes to the cool soundtrack of soul, jazz and hip-hop, before poring over the cocktail menu. It’s full of originals and twists on classics, but if you fancy something else, just ask.

The Maven, 1 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.