Leeds makes excellent use of its space, so you’ll find bars and pubs in the most unlikely places…
The locals have come to love them, but if you’re new to Leeds, you may not have discovered the city’s secret cocktail bars and hidden pubs. They’re tucked away down alleyways and nestled off the beaten track. So without further ado, let us introduce you to the nightspots you might never discover on your own.
Secret cocktail bars
Considering that Leeds has a compact city centre, it’s absolutely packed with secret cocktail bars…
The Domino Club
The ultimate hidden cocktail bar, you’ll have to pass through Lords’ Barbering and head down the back stairs to find The Domino Club. If you think that’s cool, wait until you see the place itself – it’s all parquet flooring, leather booths and atmospheric lighting, with a soundtrack of live jazz that gives way to their DJs later in the night. They serve up a menu of original cocktails and twists on classics, made with premium spirits, and you can get a rare whiskey at cost price too.
The Domino Club, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
There’s a lot to love about Distrikt. This lively underground bar has the trifecta – great food, great drinks and great entertainment. The food is Mexican small plates, packed full of flavour, which you can wash down with a treat from their cocktail menu that features twists on classics. Try the Bella Donna Daiquiri that brings together Gosling Black Seal Rum, Disaronno amaretto, lime, sugar, Peychard aromatic and Fee Brothers plum bitters. A few of those will set you up for a night of dancing, with tunes courtesy of an ever-changing list of top-notch DJs.
Distrikt, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
The Turk’s Head
The Turk’s Head is an intimate bar, tucked away on the yard that shares its name. Sister to the famous Whitelock’s, which we’ll get onto later, it’s got its own unique look – it’s all apothecary-style sophistication. Behind the bar, you’ll find a mind-boggling array of craft beer, as well as a small but perfectly formed cocktail menu. This is quality over quantity – each of their tipples is made with handpicked premium spirits, then expertly mixed to give you a drink you’ll want to savour.
The Turk’s Head, 4 Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AH.
The original secret cocktail bar, you absolutely have to seek out The Maven. Despite being on one of the city’s most popular streets, it’s surprisingly hard to find, because it doesn’t have a sign outside. Look out for the open doorway at the very start of Call Lane – once upstairs, you’ll find a door marked with a mysterious M, behind which lies a pre-Prohibition drinking den. These guys have won countless awards for their cocktails, so you can expect your drink to be skilfully crafted and served with panache – just add toe-tapping tunes, and you’ve got your night out in Leeds sorted.
The Maven, 1-3 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
A traditional barbers (and one of the best in Leeds), Remedy has reinvented itself as an old school bar, but what you might not realise is that there’s a secret cocktail den below stairs. Poison has its own menu of unique creations made using foraged produce and homemade infusions. Take the Remedy for example. It brings together sweet green plum sake with a host of herbs and botanicals in a matcha teacup, finished with mint spring.
Poison, Remedy, 16 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Below Stairs is one of the best cocktail bars in the city. The stairway to this underground bar is easy to miss, but seek it out and you’ll find yourself in a laidback venue that oozes style. They pride themselves on serving experiential cocktails that will transport you to another time and place. Try The Sun Rises, an original cocktail that recreates the streets of Valencia in a glass, with its mix of Lustau East India Sherry, Chorizo-washed Tanqueray Gin, Spanish bitters, fresh orange and foamer.
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5QS.
The Tiki Hideaway
Another Call Lane venue you’d be forgiven for missing, the Tiki Hideaway is nestled above another popular haunt – Call Lane Social. You’ll have to pass through it to reach your destination, which is upstairs, but once you step inside, you’ll soon realise that this really is a bar in its own right. The decor is 100% tiki, think beach hut style bars, seaside landscapes and bunting, with a menu to match. You’ll be able to delve into all manner of tropical cocktails, from Piña Coladas to Mai Tais, while feeling like you’re thousands of miles from Leeds.
The Tiki Hideaway, Above Call Lane Social, 38 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.
Blind Tyger pride themselves on doing something a little bit different and that ethos runs through everything from the decor to the cocktails. The former channels an old-school drinking den with cosy booths, luxurious wallpaper and a handpicked selection of liquors that act as the centrepiece for the bar. They’re mixed up into a series of original cocktails that you won’t find anywhere else, using their own homemade liquors and blends. Try the Election Day Punch, a mix of Appleton white rum, white wine, lemon cordial, Briottet triple sec, lemon and soda.
Blind Tyger, 5a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
If cocktails aren’t your thing, you’ll find plenty of hidden pubs and bars where quality real ale and craft beer are the order of the day.
As promised, Whitelock’s is the first hidden pub on our list, and you’ll find it nestled on Turk’s Head Yard, an alleyway that leads off Briggate, the city’s most popular shopping thoroughfare. This is a proper old school pub, one of the oldest in Leeds in fact, and you’ll find loads of character details inside that make it a great place to grab a pint. Real ale is their speciality here, choose from the selection on the bar, and line your stomach with a menu of British classics that are worth skipping breakfast for.
Whitelock’s, 4 Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
The Pack Horse
On the next alleyway up, The Pack Horse is equally out of sight – look out for the doorway as you walk down Briggate. It’s actually older than Whitelock’s, in fact, its history stretches back to 1130 and there’s been evidence of a pub here since 1615. It’s got a proper pub feel, with a brass topped bar alongside mahogany furniture, beer branded mirrors and pictures of the pub’s past. The bar is full of decent pints for decent prices, so you should get plenty of change from a fiver.
The Pack Horse, Pack Horse Yard, Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AT.
The next alleyway along is where you’ll find The Angel, another old school pub that you’d probably never come across on your own. This is a Samuel Smith’s pub, so you can expect a wide array of good but affordable pints, including the likes of Alpine Lager, Double Four and Taddy Lager. As well as the pub itself, there’s a beer garden for you to make the most of when the weather plays ball, and although it’s in the heart of the city, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.
The Angel Inn, Off Land’s Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LN.
The White Swan
Another pub tucked away in the city centre’s maze of alleyways is The White Swan. From Yorkshire Gold to Midnight Bell, you can sample some of Leeds Brewery’s finest here – and they’re perfect for washing down something from their menu of pub classics. You’ve got beer-battered haddock, beef bourguignon and Yorkshire Dales sausage and mash, all served up in a cosy setting, just metres away from the legendary City Varieties theatre.
The White Swan, 5 Swan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LG.
The Ship Inn
The Ship Inn is another traditional pub on the alleyways off Briggate, and it’s just as good as the rest. Dating back to the 1750s, it’s a rustic watering hole, with ship-related paraphernalia on the walls and an old school decor that runs from the brass-top wooden bar to the leather banquettes. Behind the bar, you can find an ever-changing array of real ale from Kirkstall, Timothy Taylor’s and Black Sheep. Prefer craft beer? Take your pick from the likes of The Kernal, Partizan and Beer By Numbers.
The Ship Inn, 71 Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LH.
The Shed Bar
Easily forgotten, even by locals, The Shed Bar is tucked away on Heaton’s Count, which sits between Granary Wharf and Lower Briggate. Nestled in one of the city’s distinctive railway arches, it’s got oodles of character, punctuated by a soundtrack of modern rock, indie and old school rock ‘n’ roll. Behind the bar, they have all the usual suspects, but their collection of rare malt whisky is worth shouting about – why not treat yourself?
The Shed Bar, 6 Heaton’s Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4LJ.