Leeds is no stranger to cocktail bars. In fact, the city centre is absolutely packed with them. So if you like your spirits whipped up into something altogether more exciting, here’s where to go…
It has to be said, Leeds’ nightlife is pretty amazing. Whether you’re heading to Call Lane, Merrion Street or Greek Street, you’ll find all manner of bars to keep you liquored up, with everything from little independents pouring original tipples to big names serving stone cold classics. Let us introduce you to the cocktail bars you’re going to want to check out… just don’t try to do them all in one night, chaos will ensue.
Thewlis is the cocktail-equivalent of popular Leeds bar, The Decanter. The decor is all sophistication, with luxurious booths where you can hide away from the world with one of their unique, and often unusual drinks. They’ve taken the classics and given them new life, as well as adding their own personal stamp to the menu with new drinks like The Palma Violet – and yes, it really does taste exactly like the sweets.
Thewlis, 18 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JA.
The latest D&D restaurant to open in Leeds, East 59th has the feel of a New York loft, but the skyline is a little different – you’ll look out over the rooftops from the top of the new Victoria Gate shopping centre. It’s a unique angle on the city, and one that’s best enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. Try their Weird Science collection, which will see you dabbling in cinnamon smoke, Chartreuse-flavoured air and mint mist – or go for something a little more conventional, with appearances from all the classics, including the Cosmopolitan, Mint Julep and Tom Collins.
East 59th, Issho, Victoria Gate, George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7AU.
It’s surprisingly easy to miss The Maven. So much so, that even locals can go years without discovering it – but this Call Lane cocktail bar is worth seeking out. Head through the unmarked door and up to the bar, which is decked out in cool pre-prohibition style and delve into their seasonal menu. It’s filled with new finds and old classics, but if you have something specific in mind, don’t be afraid to ask – they have a never say never approach to cocktails, so if it’s not on the menu, it really doesn’t matter.
The Maven, 1-3 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
The Turk’s Head
Another hidden gem, and one that not so long ago was an extension of its neighbour Whitelock’s, The Turk’s Head is a sophisticated city centre haunt that takes its inspiration from days gone by. Their cocktail menu is petite, but it’s made up of classic tipples, expertly made using a handpicked selection of quality spirits. Try the Hop Gin & Tonic, a new take on a classic that combines Whittaker’s of Harrogate (that’s right, a Yorkshire gin) with tonic and their secret ingredient – one of their IPAs.
The Turk’s Head, 4 Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
The Hedonist Project
A permanent pop up, you say, what the hell is that when it’s at home? Well, it’s a bar that changes with the seasons, giving us a new concept and a new focus every time. It is, however, always one of Leeds’ most intriguing cocktails bars, whether they’re obsessing over gin, experimenting with rum or going wild for whisky. In the past, we’ve seen the likes of Old Tom’s Kitchen, serving up the juniper tipple with perfectly matched plates, and Trader Dan’s Surf Shack, offering a world of Tiki inspired deliciousness. What will come next? Who knows.
The Hedonist Project, 156 Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BU.
A long time Leeds favourite, Smokestack is a cocktail bar with a difference. You see, as well as serving up a host of New Orleans inspired cocktails, they also put on some downright amazing funk, soul, blues and jazz nights, with music playing until late. Their cocktails take their inspiration from the past, offering original recipes and twists on classics, taken from a collection of vintage books we wouldn’t mind getting our hands on. Try the French Martinilla, which combines Cariel Vanilla vodka, Briottet black raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.
Smokestack, 159A Lower Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LY.
The Alchemist isn’t a Leeds original, but it is a firm favourite. You have two bars to choose from, with one on Greek Street and another looking out on the city from the top of Trinity Leeds. They’ve become a staple of the Leeds nightlife with their experimental cocktails which will see you supping the ever-elegant White Cosmo, a mix of elderflower liqueur, Cointreau, white grape juice and bitters served with a frozen orchid soaked in Kettle One, or The Drug Rummer, a simple blend of Mount Gay Black Barrel, winter sugars, citrus and toasted sage.
The Alchemist, Trinity Leeds, Trinity, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW & Yorkshire House, Greek Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5SH.
Of course Blind Tyger made the list. Despite being something of a hidden gem, it’s one of the most famous cocktail bars in Leeds, tempting folk into its speakeasy style bar with a small but perfectly formed menu that focuses on premium spirits. You won’t find these cocktails anywhere else, they’re all originals, created especially for Blind Tyger. Try the Eagle’s Dream, a mix of gin, violet liqueur, lemon, sugar and a whipped egg – or keep it local with God’s Own Cocktail, a scrumptious blend of rhubarb infused vodka, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice and raspberries.
Blind Tyger, 5A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Issho is the new Japanese restaurant from D&D London, but it’s not just a place to eat – it also has a Kori Bar where you can indulge in cocktails, sake and Japanese whisky. Their sophisticated pours take inspiration from the seasons, so you can enjoy a refreshing glass of Tanqueray gin, Yuzu sake, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mure, thanks to their Yuzu Bramble, or go for something a little more warming, like the Jasmine Blossom, which blends Olmeca blanco tequila with apricot liqueur, homemade jasmine & basil syrup, fresh lime juice and bitters.
Issho, Victoria Gate, George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7AU.
The Tiki Hideaway
Another bar within a bar, The Tiki Hideaway is tucked away above famous Leeds haunt, Call Lane Social. It’s an exotic cocktail bar, where you’ll be surrounded by bamboo beach hut bars, fairy lights and cocktails served in coconut shells. It’s the perfect escape on a dreary rainy day, and offers plenty of drinks that are sure to cheer you up, from potent Zombies to fruity Mai Tais – look out for their tiki happy hour to save a few pennies too.
The Tiki Hideaway, Call Lane Social, 38 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.
It’s no secret that Chida is obsessed with Mexico, and nowhere is that more obvious than in their cocktail menu. They do three different kinds of Margarita – the traditional Tommy’s Margarita with Ocho Blanco, lime juice and agave syrup, their own Chida Margarita with Tapatio Blanco, house sours and dehydrated orange, and an ever-changing selection of Frozen Margaritas. The bar itself is filled with Mexican charm, with knick-knacks on the walls from their travels and the sweet, sweet smell of nachos cooking in the kitchen. Get settled in for the night, it’s going to be a big ‘un.
Chida Cantina, 5 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
The Domino Club
It didn’t take long for The Domino Club to become one of our favourite cocktail bars in Leeds. It’s an underground drinking den, hidden within Lords Barbering – you’ll have to hunt out the staircase at the back to find your way down to their speakeasy-style bar, but once there, you’ll be treated to a night of one-off cocktails, cost-price whisky and live jazz. Their cocktail list has been created by Niall McGloin and includes 24 carefully crafted drinks – try the Floralis, a mix of Botanist Gin, jasmine tea, cucumber and watermelon soda, sugar, raspberries and fresh cucumber.
The Domino Club, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
A Call Lane institution, Jake’s Bar has been around for a decade. But while they may have changed over the years, one thing has stayed the same – the quality of their cocktails. The secret ingredient inevitably comes from their still room – it allows them to create their own spirits and liqueurs, and it’s this little eccentricity that makes them one of the best cocktail bars in Leeds. Keep an eye on their latest creations, which can be subbed in for the usual spirits on the cocktail menu – pineapple & basil liquor in your Pina Colada, anyone?
Jake’s Bar, 29 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.
Vice & Virtue
From the outside, it looks rather unimposing, but Vice & Virtue has a host of delicious tipples lined up for you, if you venture within. They spent their first year experimenting with different tipples, but now they’ve settled on an extensive menu that covers everything from gin to champagne, rum and agave spirits. You can switch from the Yellow Fever (Death’s Door Gin infused with saffron, Lillet Blanc Vermouth, Cointreau, coriander and lemon) to the Old Jamaican (Mezan XO Rum with lime, mint and Veuve Clicquot) in the blink of an eye.
Vice & Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Sky Lounge is one of the most famous cocktail bars in Leeds. It sits perched atop of the DoubleTree by Hilton, on the thirteenth floor, with floor to ceiling windows and an outdoor balcony offering stunning views of the city. As you can imagine, this makes it the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two – and they’re more than happy to oblige, with a menu of classics that cater for all tastes. From Mojitos to Manhattans, Pina Coladas to Porn Star Martinis, you’ll find it all here, along with their own creations, like The Castaway, a mix of rum, blue curacao, lime, sugar and pina colada foam.
SkyLounge, 2 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BR.
Most people think of Shears Yard as a restaurant, and of course it is, but it also doubles as a brilliant little cocktail bar, because they apply the same creative thinking to their drinks as they do their food. The menu changes regularly, so you’re in for lots of lovely surprises, but in the past, they’ve served unusual pairings like The Bison’s Borscht, which mixed Zubrowka vodka and Heering cherry liqueur with lemon juice and their own homemade pear, beetroot and rosemary syrup to create something really special.
Shears Yard, 11-15 Wharf Street, The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EH.
More famous for its BBQ goodness than its cocktails, The Pit is nevertheless a marvellous place for cocktail drinkers to while away an afternoon. Time it right and you can take advantage of their 2-4-1 offer, which runs all day Sunday to Friday and 4pm to 7pm on Saturdays. You’re in for a treat, with tipples like Made in Cuba, a mix of Bacardi Carta Blanca, lime juice, sugar, cucumber and mint, finished with absinthe, and the Lemon Cheesecake, a deliciously sweet combination of vodka, Limoncello, lemon juice and gingerbread.
The Pit, 9 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
Tucked away within Headrow House, Redondo Beach is the upstairs cocktail bar that leads out onto their two impressive roof terraces. The menu is petite, with just a handful of options for you to choose from and a definite preference for gin, but what they lack in choice, they make up for in quality. You can drink a heady mix of Hendrick’s, St Germain elderflower liqueur, prosecco, lemon, raspberry and cucumber in the form of their Electric Ladyland or a simple classic with Bulleit Rye bourbon, Armagnac, Peychaud’s bitters and orange with their Old Old Fashioned.
Redondo Beach, Headrow House, Bramley’s Yard, 19 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
Sister to The Alchemist, The Botanist can also be found in Trinity Leeds, but this time on the ground floor. The bar itself is gorgeous, with an outdoors indoors vibe that mixes earthy hues with plant pots, garden tools and wooden benches. And it’s not just the decor – the menu takes inspiration from the great outdoors, creating unusual combinations with nature’s finest – think Blackberry & Rosemary Fizz, Peach & Lavendar Martinis and Thai Chilli Crushes. If you want to try something new and different, this is the place to go, but be warned, it gets really ruddy busy.
The Botanist, Trinity Leeds, 67 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
A basement bar hidden down an alleyway off Duncan Street, Distrikt is actually quite easy to miss, but if you never venture inside, you’ll never get a chance to try their delectable cocktails. They’re one of the reasons that it’s become a staple of the Leeds nightlife, along with its reputation for serving creative tapas and hosting world-class DJs. Our favourite, is the PS I Love You, with its blend of Santa Teresa Claro, Disaronno, Kalhua, Bailey’s, cream and milk – or why not try the Gingerbread Mescal Margarita 8 for something a little bit different?
Distrikt, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
Restaurant Bar & Grill
It may be a well known restaurant, with bases around the UK, but Restaurant Bar and Grill also makes space for the thirsty folk of Leeds. In fact, come summer, their outside space is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two while watching the world go by – and the quality of the drinks means you’ll likely want another. Try the Porn Star Martini, it’s a classic done well, served with half a passion fruit and a shot of champagne, or go for an absolute classic with their Mojito.
Restaurant Bar & Grill, The Old Post Office, 3 City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2AN.
A cool as heck addition to Duncan Street, Ten Bar is all exposed brickwork, original features and quirky artwork. Stop at the bar downstairs to pick up a cocktail or head straight up to the first floor, where you’ll find another bar and oodles of seating. Their cocktail menu takes inspiration from the name – they offer just 10 cocktails, with a mix of classics and new creations. The Salted Caramel Espresso Martini is to die for, but it’s The Kiwi & Strawberry One that folk are going wild for.
Ten Bar, 10 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DL.
For an equally classy experience, head to the pinnacle of Trinity Leeds and put Angelica to the test. It’s all class in this rooftop bar, which has a terrace with a view, perfect for sunny days, and floor to ceiling windows that let you look out on the world when it’s raining. Their menu is split into two sections, one takes inspiration from far flung shores and another that’s dedicated to their own homemade classics, so you can go from the Holy Grail (Calvados, Johnnie Walker Black Label, apple juice and cinnamon syrup) to the Honolulu Cooler (Bacardi, lime juice, coco, mango juice, grenadine and lemonade).
Angelica, Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
Be at One
Be at One now have two bars in Leeds where they serve up a rather spectacular array of cocktails. The menu is almost overwhelming – and it’s fair to say, you’ll find drinks you’ve tried and others you’d never have come up with in your wildest dreams. Try the Banana Banshee, a fruity combo made with creme de banane, white creme de cacao, banana and vanilla ice cream, or keep it simple with the Vesper and its mix of gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc.
Be at One, 6 Millennium Square, Great George Street, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS2 3AD & 19 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6EA.
When it comes to champagne cocktails, there are few better places to go than Epernay. The bar itself is all exposed brickwork, drippy candles and repurposed wine bottles – but it’s the drinks you really come for. Alongside the champagne, they have a selection of cocktails worth delving into, whether in the bar itself or outside in the courtyards. The Champagne Cocktail is a stone cold classic and you need to try it.
Epernay, 12 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3DW.
Taking its inspiration from New York, Manahatta now has two equally popular bars in Leeds. They’ve given them both an extravagant feel, from the menu right through to the decor – think eclectic booths, statement bars and neon lights. Expect a few Big Apple classics, like the Central Park (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon, basil and sugar) alongside eye-catching tipples like the deep purple Amethyst (Bombay Sapphire gin, aperitif wine, Giffard Blue Curaçao and grenadine).
Manahatta, 11 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG & Minerva, 29 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5PS.
The Liquorist & 7 Greek Street Social
The Liquorist offers two for the price of one – and for once, we’re not talking about an offer. You see, it’s a cool modern bar upstairs, but if you venture downstairs, you’ll find a vintage phone that gives you access to 7 Greek Street Social, a secret underground cocktail bar with a completely different menu. Upstairs you can enjoy an Old Fashioned with an 8-minute stir (no seriously, they time it by the music), while downstairs you can experiment with Envy, a mix of tequila, Blue Curaçao, pineapple juice and cherry.
An oldie, but a goodie, Mojo is one of the best cocktail bars in Leeds – and has been for quite some time. They have a decent selection of well-mixed tipples for you to indulge in, taking you from classics like Zombies and Manhattans to their own expertly concocted creations – try the ever-so Yorkshire, Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb! which brings gin and lemon juice together with rhubarb vodka, liqueur and puree. Whatever you go for, you can enjoy it in a venue that’s all rock-chic, with plenty of space outside if the sun’s out.
Mojo, 18 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
Come on now, we couldn’t write a list of cocktail bars in Leeds and not include Revolution. The national brand is famed for its creative tipples which come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find all the usual suspects on the menu, with Mojitos, Whisky Sours and Long Island Iced Teas, but you can also delve into a few bevies that you won’t find anywhere else. Try the Bubblegum Daiquiri, which blends lemon and apple juice with bubblegum vodka and syrup – tasty. Whether you keep it simple or try something experimental, you’ll find yourself in bar that’s chilled out by day and seriously lively at night.
Revolución de Cuba
Sister bar to Revolution, Revolución de Cuba is an exotic destination, where the cocktails run freely and the fiesta gets the party started. It’s a good looking bar, spread across multiple floors, each with distinct personalities – and you can delve into a menu of cocktails that will leave you thinking of far-flung shores. We’re talking Jamaican Me Crazy (rum, creme de banane, lime and pineapple juice) and the Coconut Daiquiri (coconut rum with lime and more coconut).
Revolución de Cuba, 64-68 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.
The Lost & Found
A restaurant-bar hybrid, Lost & Found is a fabulous little find. They have three venues across the UK and each one revolves around a make-believe character – ours is Virginia K. Stevenson, a free spirited Yorkshire lass with a love of birds and botany. Expect an eclectic decor, with a cosy, sophisticated vibe, and a menu of downright unusual cocktails. Try the Smoke & Pepper Piña Colada, made with Havana 3 Year, cocounut milk, lime juice, sugar syrup and their homemade smoke & pepper pineapple puree.
The Lost & Found, 12 Greek Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5PT.
Browns is an impressive space. It was once the banking hall of the Leeds Permanent Building Society, but has since been converted into a beautiful art-deco restaurant that’s all sophistication. You can nip in for a bite to eat, but they also have a cocktail bar, where you can sup all manner of tasty concoctions. From Billinis and French Martinis to Cosmopolitans and our personal favourite, the British Royal (Black Cow vodka, prosecco, rhubarb & rosehip cordial and apple), you’ll find all the classics, along with a few new favourites.
Browns, 70-72 The Headrow, The Light, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8EQ.
Believe it or not, Victoria Gate Casino has its very own cocktail bar and it’s worth checking out. Before you order your drink, check out the ceiling, it has a unique design that makes it look like it’s moving – best take note of that one before you start on their potent concoctions. Their cocktails are inspired by the drinks behind the bar – they have over 150 premium spirits and champagnes to work with and they’ve mixed them into some seriously tasty drinks, from the Smuggler Mojito with Kraken Spiced rum, sugar syrup, lime, mint and ginger beer to the Bourbon Sour with Woodford Reserve, lemon juice, sugar syrup, bitters and a berry garnish.
Curve, Victoria Gate Casino, Eastgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7JL.
One of Leeds’ hidden cocktail bars, Mook is tucked away on Hirst’s Yard, just off Call Lane. This is one of those bars that you find yourself in on nights, ordering a cocktail at the bar before hitting the dance floor for some seriously questionable moves. The menu has a little something for everyone, with the likes of the Applemac with its mix of salted caramel vodka, green apple liqueur and apple juice, alongside the classic White Russian, made up of vodka, kahlua, milk and cream, then topped with chocolate powder, and yes, a Malteser.
Mook, Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.
Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar & Bottle Room
If it’s shopping and cocktails you’re interested in, Harvey Nichols will tick all your boxes. You can pick up everything from designer label threads to foodie delights, before heading upstairs for a drink. They now have two options for you – the Fourth Floor Bar and the ever-so-slightly more relaxed Bottle Room. Both offer their own unique selection of cocktails – try The Last Word (Bombay gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit) in the Fourth Floor Bar or sup an Orange Blossom Martini (Grey Goose L’Orange vodka, Noilly Prat vermouth and blossom bitters) in The Bottle Room.
Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar & Bottle Room, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AZ.
One of the more recent additions to Leeds’ thriving nightlife scene, Banyan finally arrived in Leeds in the summer of 2016, bringing with it a cocktail menu that makes City Square the perfect stop, whether you’re grabbing a quick drink on your way to the station or starting your night on the town. Their Espresso Martini comes highly recommend, but it’s accompanied by a whole host of intriguing concoctions, like the Geisha Girl, a mix of Ketel One Citroen vodka, plum sake, guava, lemon and pineapple with a dash of prosecco.
Banyan, 2 The Old Post Office, City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ES.
Another Leeds bar that takes its inspiration from the Big Apple, Brooklyn is famous for its heady cocktails and lively nights. They bring the party from Thursday through to Saturday – and the best way to get into the spirit of it is with their potent concoctions. The Frozen Margaritas are best enjoyed in the courtyard out back, but that’s just one of the classic cocktails on offer here – think French Martinis, Strawberry Daquiries, and of course, Long Island Iced Teas.
Brooklyn, 50 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.