The Domino Club is the latest opening from the folk behind Roland’s, and their latest venture is even more interesting than their first…
When Roland’s opened back in 2014, it quickly became one of our favourite Call Lane bars, winning us over with its relaxed atmosphere and unique character. But now, our attention’s moved to Merrion Street, where brothers Alexander and Jonathan Neil are opening up their new joint – and it’s a doozy.
“When we opened Roland’s on Call Lane in 2014 we always said we wanted to open our favourite bar. The same inspiration is behind The Domino. It’s the sort of late night venue that we’d like to go to.” Alexander told us. And as it turns out, they have very good taste, because the new bar will be an underground jazz and blues club, an old school drinking den and a cocktail bar, all rolled into one.
When we say it’s underground, we mean it literally – it’s a basement unit in Grand Arcade, but it also has the feel of a speakeasy. The doorway isn’t on the street, it’s tucked away inside Lords Barbering with only a neon sign to mark its existence. That’s what they’re going for here, a cool club that feels like a well-kept secret and the venue was really important to that.
“The space we found in the Grand Arcade is unique in the city and fits in with our concept perfectly,” Jonathan explained. “By having a small shop front on the street level and the large space underneath we were able to partner up with Lords Barbering and give that classic feeling of a hidden club behind the barbers.”
So what can you expect, once you’ve found your way inside? Well, it may be new, but it doesn’t look it. They’ve given the venue a timeless feel that will fits the concept perfectly – think parquet flooring, rich wood panelling and delicate glass pendant lights, alongside leather booths and a handmade brass bar top. It’s not all old school though, they’ve thrown a few curve balls in their with the neon lights and the beatnik inspired uniforms.
“Jazz and blues have sat alongside cocktails and spirits for over 100 years, both the drinks and the music reflected what was going on throughout the 20th century – so we’ve created a space that doesn’t stick to one set of design rules,” Jonathan told us. That’s also at the heart of what they’ll be doing with the space – handpicked spirits, cocktails and live music – and they have something exciting to offer for all three.
The cocktail list will have 24 drinks for you to choose from, with a mix of classics and originals. It’s been created by Niall McGloin, a man with a stellar reputation, who has taken on the reins as general manager at The Domino Club. You could find yourself supping a Nightingale – a heady mix of Sipsmith Gin, plum sake, citrus, Peychaud’s Bitters, cream, house plum syrup, egg white and salt. Or why not try the Floralis – a combination of Botanist Gin with jasmine tea, cucumber and watermelon soda, sugar, raspberries and cucumber?
Alongside the cocktails, they’ve got a list 12 boilermakers – so you can work your way through 12 different beers with 12 different whiskies, each specially selected to complement the other. And that’s not the only whisky related treat they’ve got lined up for you, because they’re also going to be serving up rare and hard to find whiskies at cost price – starting with Octomore by Bruichladdich, the peatiest whisky in the world.
It’s not going to make them any money, but they wanted to do it anyway, and Alexander told us why, “Something everyone is getting very excited about is the special cost price whiskeys we’ll be offering. Niall is using his contacts around the world to source some incredibly rare and exclusive whiskeys that we will be selling on for exactly what it costs us, we will not be making a profit. We’re going to be limiting the whiskeys to one per person per round, this way we can give everyone the chance to try the world’s best without breaking the bank.”
And then there’s the music. They’ve got their own in-house band, who’ll be playing live, kicking off the night with jazz and blues covers before moving into funk and soul territory. Local record producer, Ryan De Warne, is the man in charge of the music, including the DJ, who’ll be taking you from late evening into the early hours. It’s a proper jazz club in the heart of the city centre and that’s something we’ve been craving for a very long time.
The Domino Club, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.