Leeds is no stranger to cocktail bars, 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.
If you love cocktails, you need to visit Below Stairs. It’s a cool underground bar where you can sup a selection of unusual cocktails. Take a seat in one of their comfy chairs and pore over a menu filled with experiential creations, designed to transport you to another place and time. They’ve turned mixology into an art form with cocktails like the 109 Miles to Filey. It’s a drinkable version of the Yorkshire coast, made using seaweed-distilled gin, wildflower eau du vie, Islay Scotch seafood and an edible pebble.
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AL.
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 drinks like Curiosity Killed the Cat, which brings together Warner Edwards elderflower gin, St Germain elderflower liqueur, muddied blueberries and lemon juice.
Thewlis, 18 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JA.
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 Victoria Gate. It’s a unique angle on the city, and one that’s best enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. Try one of their unique creations like the Jersey Smash, a mix of Jack Daniel’s, fresh raspberries, mint, lemon, cinnamon syrup and cranberry juice, or go for something a little more conventional, with appearances from all the classics, including the Espresso Martini, SoHo Negroni and Peaches & Cream.
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.
Remedy is a traditional barbers that’s been transformed an old school jazz bar, but they have one more secret to reveal – an underground cocktail bar called Poison. It’s got a special menu of one-off concoctions made using foraged produce and their own homemade infusions. Try the Old Boy, a twist on an Old Fashioned that brings together Jefferson’s small batch bourbon, homemade aromatic bitters, orange bitters, reduced caramel fudge stout syrup and cigar smoked orange flowers.
Poison Cocktail Lounge, 16 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
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 one of their Shrubs, an ever-changing weekly concoction, like the Blackcurrant, Lemon and Elderflower – it’s like a Ribena, but with booze.
The Turk’s Head, 4 Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
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. Try the Golden Fashioned, which brings together El Dorado 8 year rum, Briottet fig liqueur, Regan’s orange bitters, sugarcane syrup and banana dust.
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 Aviator, a mix of Sipsmith gin, Briottet violette, blue curacao, citrus, orange and Palma Violets served in a hip flask, or The Colour Changing One, a simple blend of Reyka vodka, apple, soda, citrus and magic.
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 Popcorn Julep, a mix of Mellow Corn whiskey, popcorn syrup and sage-infused salt – 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 home to the 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 Rum & Jasmine, which blends Mount Gay rum with Cointreau, homemade jasmine & basil syrup, apple, lemon and ginger ale.
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 fiery 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.
Neighbourhood is a barmy venue, complete with living walls and neon lights. It comes alive at night when their live DJs and saxophonist are joined by spontaneous dance parties to create a truly unique party atmosphere. The cocktails are instagram worthy, with tipples like the Sugar Lips, which brings together Bacardi rum, wild strawberry liqueur, Disaronno, lychee and lemon, with a strawberry chocolate kiss.
Neighbourhood, 5 Greek Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5RW.
The Domino Club
The Domino Club is 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 in-house by their expert mixologists and includes 24 carefully crafted drinks – try the Floralis, a mix of Botanist Gin, Jasmine tea, Double Dutch cucumber and watermelon soda and sugar with a cucumber ribbon garnish.
The Domino Club, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
A Call Lane institution, Jake’s Bar has been around for over 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 like to refresh their menu on a regular basis as they experiment with different spirits and concoctions. It makes for an eclectic menu, which takes you from the Yorkshire Lady, a mix of house rhubarb gin and puree, Laird’s applejack, lemon, apple juice and egg white, to Creole Sazerac, which brings together Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Pedro Ximinez sherry, Benedictine and Peychaud’s bitters.
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 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 Bellinis, Pina Coladas to Porn Star Martinis, you’ll find it all here, along with their own creations, like the Sky Tai, a tropical blend of Havana 3, Havana Especial, Blue Curacao, lime juice and almond syrup.
SkyLounge, 2 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BR.
A cafe by day, a bar by night, The Vanguard is both Jekyll and Hyde. Their lunch-friendly cocktails are low on alcohol, but big on flavour, like the Breakfast Martini, a mix of gin, marmalade and earl grey syrup. Then when the sun sets and cafe transforms into a bar, you can choose from a menu of classic cocktails with a Vanguard twist, like take the Pisco Sour, which uses a fennel syrup to give it a unique edge.
The Vanguard, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
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.
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 a small blend of classic and unique cocktails to choose from, but what they lack in choice, they make up for in quality. Try the Electric Ladyland, a heady mix of Hendrick’s, St Germain elderflower, liqueur, prosecco, lemon, raspberry and cucumber.
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, Birch Negronis 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 eclectic small plates and hosting world-class DJs. Our favourite concoction, 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 for something a little bit different?
Distrikt, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
Dirty Martini is a relaxed cocktail joint by day and a lively, party bar by night. They know how to do a cracking martini and you have 15 to choose from, but that’s not all – they have over 50 cocktails in total, so any and all tastes are catered for. Try the Strawbizzle Bazzle, a sweet mix of Grey Goose vodka, Britottet basil liqueur, strawberry shrub, watermelon syrup, apple juice and citrus.
Dirty Martini, 31 King Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HL.
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 prosecco primo, or go for an absolute classic with their refreshing Mojito.
Restaurant Bar & Grill, The Old Post Office, 3 City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2AN.
A cool as heck spot on 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 offers a mix of classics, like the Espresso Martini, and new creations, like The Watermelon One, a refreshing blend of Cointreau, tequila reposado, watermelon and lime.
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 covers both classics and their own creations, so why not try one like the Elderflower Vivant, a blend of elderflower liqueur and syrup topped with prosecco and soda?
Angelica, Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
Be at One
Be at One 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 Matt the Rat, a fruity combo made with Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, orange liqueur, orange, lemon and lemonade, or keep it simple with the Vesper and its mix of Plymouth gin, Belvedere vodka and dry vermouth.
Be at One, 6 Millennium Square, Great George Street, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS2 3AD & 19 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6EA.
Taking its inspiration from New York, Manahatta is a popular Leeds cocktail joint with two city centre venues and another in Headingley. They’ve given them 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 bright orange Geisha Girl (Ketel One Citroen vodka, plum sake, pineapple, guava, lemon and prosecco).
Manahatta, 11 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG & Minerva, 29 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5PS.
The Liquorist is a Greek Street mainstay, a lively joint with a stylish decor that offers a little something for everyone. The cocktail menu is extensive to say the least, taking you from a classic like the English Garden, with its combination of Hendrick’s Gin, St Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice, fresh cucumber, mint and soda, to a creative take on a old school staple, with the Mochachini Martini, which brings together Smirnoff vodka, chocolate cacao liqueur, vanilla syrup and a shot of espresso.
The Liquorist, 5-7 Greek Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5RW.
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.
The Watermark is the work of experienced mixologists Dariush Afshar Haghighi and Filippos Filippopoulous. It’s a down-to-earth bar with comfy furniture, eclectic artwork and a banging soundtrack, but their crazy cocktails are the stars of the show. They’ve put together a menu of one-offs that you won’t find elsewhere – try the Aegean Breeze, a mix of Metaxa 12 Star brandy, Amato Montenegro, fig liqueur and cold brew coffee.
The Watermark, 3 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
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, Woo Woos and Long Island Iced Teas, but you can also delve into a few bevvies that you won’t find anywhere else. Try the Rosie & Gin, a grown-up slushie made with Aviation gin, pomegranate syrup, raspberries, pineapple and elderflower tonic water. 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.
Revolution, 48 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT & Electric Press, 41 Cookridge Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AW.
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. Try the Nuclear Daiquiri (Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Wray & Nephew pineapple, lime, sugar, crème de banane and a candy floss cloud) or the Super Stoked Cherry Coke (Sailor Jerry’s rum, Coca-Cola Zero, cherry and lime topped with a lemon and cherry amaretto sorbet).
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 two venues in Leeds and both revolve around a make-believe character – Greek Street is Virginia K. Stevenson, a free-spirited Yorkshire lass with a love of birds and botany, and Leeds Club is Benedict Pike, an intrepid explorer who specialises in chemistry. Expect an eclectic decor, with a cosy, sophisticated vibe, and a menu of downright unusual cocktails. Try the Red Sky at Night, a mix of Plymouth gin, Briottet crème d’abricot, red peppers, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup, grenadine syrup and oak & smoke bitters.
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 classic concoctions, from Bellinis to French Martinis and Cosmopolitans. But our personal favourite has to be their signature British Royal, which brings together Black Cow vodka, prosecco, rhubarb cordial and apple.
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’s 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, from the Applemac with its mix of salted caramel vodka, green apple liqueur and apple juice, to the Dib Dab, made up of Smirnoff red vodka, amaretto, Chambord and lemonade.
Mook, Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.
Leeds Postal Service
Beer and cocktails go hand-in-hand at Leeds Postal Service. It’s a cool, stripped-back bar with a menu of beer-laden cocktails. You can try one of their shandies, like the Postmaster’s Choice, a mix of Theakston’s Peculiar, ginger ale and honey bourbon, or go for one of their ever-changing Boilermakers. They even do twists on classics, with unusual combinations like Barista stout, Licor 43 and Northern Bloc espresso ice cream.
Leeds Postal Service, Westpoint, Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JY.
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 a Japanese Martini (Sake, Jinzu gin and Suze bitters) in The Bottle Room.
Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar & Bottle Room, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AZ.
Banyan is a cornerstone of Leeds’ thriving nightlife scene and has 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 Pistachio Espresso Martini comes highly recommended, but it’s accompanied by a whole host of intriguing concoctions, like the ’64 Old Fashioned, which sees Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack, blended with Chartreuse liqueur and a dash of their house-made bitters.
Banyan, 2 The Old Post Office, City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ES.Cover image credit: Bevan Cockerill