This is our challenge to you – if you haven’t tried every bar on this list, it’s time to get drinking!
Ten bars, each amazing in their own right, and yet, you probably haven’t visited them all. Why? Because they fly under the radar. Maybe they’re off the beaten track or perhaps they’re just so new that no one has caught on yet, but whatever the reason, you can bet they’re all worth seeking out. So instead of returning to the same haunts over and over again, why not try somewhere different and discover a new favourite?
Outlaws Yacht Club
Off the beaten track on New York Street, Outlaws Yacht Club is a force unto itself. It’s hip, yet down to earth. Grown up, yet family friendly. Their passion for music attracts top DJs from the around the world and their ever-growing pile of board games keep inquisitive minds entertained on impromptu games nights. But that’s not even the best bit. Behind the bar, a who’s who of craft breweries vie for your attention alongside handpicked spirits and artfully mixed cocktails. Try the grilled cheese too, it’s one of life’s simple pleasures.
Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DY.
This one has to be sought out. It’s a teeny tiny slice of sophistication, tucked away on Swinegate. Inside, it’s low-lit, exposed brick heaven. The bar takes centre stage and it’s stocked to the hilt with fine wine, from Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc to Los Haroldos Estate Malbec. Don’t worry, they have craft beer too, alongside a seasonal cocktail menu so big it will demand a return visit. Grab your drink, then head out to the terrace, where a retractable roof offers an instant transition from cosy to summer vibes.
Farrands, 18 Swinegate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4AG.
An exciting new addition to the city’s cocktail scene, Tabula Rasa is a chic cafe-bar with a 1920s vibe. It’s the brainchild of Filipinos Filippopoulos, one of the original mixologists behind The Watermark, and a celebration of aperitivo culture. Sit down, surrounded by the deep greens, lush velvets and glittering golds to enjoy one of their devilishly good cocktails. They change on the regular, but showcase the mixology might of the team, with classics and originals, all made to their famously exacting standards.
Tabula Rasa, 8 Eastgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7JL.
Lazy Lounge isn’t new, it’s been around for eons, and yet it’s oft-forgotten. And what a travesty that is because this little firecracker is one of the best bars in Leeds. They love their gin as much as their wine, but you can just as easily get a quality craft beer or an oak-aged whisky. They really know their stuff here, which is great if you need a little advice and just as good if you’re a secret sommelier. Want a real treat? Book onto a tasting and work your way through a handpicked selection of wine or gin, learning as you go.
Lazy Lounge, West Point, Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JY.
A little cafe-bar tucked away behind Leeds Rail Station, Brew Society will take you from day to night in a flurry of North Star Coffee, homemade bakes, toasted cheese sarnies and quality beer. This is the Tardis of the Leeds bar scene, it doesn’t look like much from inside, but within, it opens out into a small front room with a bar and a bigger back room, so you can have atmosphere or peace, depending on your mood. 13 rotating craft beer lines will keep your afterwork drinks interesting, as will their carefully crafted wine list.
Brew Society, 26 Aire Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4HT.
Two doors down from Belgrave, a solitary doorway marks Blind Tyger. It’s easily missed but promises some of the best cocktails in Leeds. Stepping inside feels like stepping back in time – polished woodwork, leather booths and back-to-back picture walls create the sense of an old-school drinking den. And the menu is made to match. Their mixologists are the best in class and their cocktails are all originals. Try the Hanami Highball, a mix of Nikka whisky, cherry blossom liqueur, pomegranate syrup and tonic.
Blind Tyger, 5 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Hello Music Lounge
House of Fu is already a household name, but what you might not realise is that there’s a cocktail bar upstairs. Hello is a music-obsessed hideaway. DJs man the decks, with past visitors including NTS, Cosmic Slop, Jazz Club and more. Want to make your own sweet music? They have their own karaoke bar with five booths controlled by the Singa app. And to drink? From their famous yuzu frozen margarita to the simple refreshment of a classic Aperol spritz, you’ll find cocktails aplenty here, alongside beer, sake and natural wines.
Hello Music Lounge, 15-19 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
Green Room is the one of the city’s latest (and most exciting) openings. The first thing anyone is ever going to talk about here is the roof terrace – it’s exceptional, with row-upon-row of benches surrounded by lush plants, under canopy of twinkling lights. And even if it rains, the bar has the kind of indoors-outdoors vibe that makes you feel a million miles from the city centre. On the menu, you have beer from local breweries, alongside an entire spritz and gin goblet menu. Plus, there’s food from the mighty Gron.
Green Room, 36 Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2DE.
Kirkgate may not be the first place you go looking for a bar, but this is where you’ll find Doghouse, and trust us, it’s worth the extra legwork. Exposed brick and plasterwork gives the bar a wonderfully undone look that, coupled with an eclectic array of furniture and the bright, eye-popping artwork, makes it instantly welcoming. Food comes in the form of bagels, smothered in peanut butter or stuffed with barbecue pork, while beers come in keg and cask form, with more in the fridges for those who want to try something new.
Doghouse, 93 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
Across the river, on the oft-forgotten Brewery Wharf lies 212 Bar, a little slice of New York transplanted onto the Leeds waterfront. It’s a bright colourful venue, packed with personality, courtesy of local artist Nicolas Dixon – he’s transformed the DJ booth and pillars into a work of art with his distinctive graffiti style. This is a true day-to-night venue – as the sun sets, leisurely coffees and light bites give way to an all night party vibe fuelled by the best house, electronica, funk, disco and more (and more than a few tequilas).
212 Cafe & Bar, 6a Brewery Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1NE.