As if you needed an excuse...
My experience of office life has taught me that the country is less productive on a Friday afternoon than it is on a Saturday, when all the offices are shut anyway. The principle reason for this is that nobody seems able to think or talk about anything other than all the delicious booze they’re going to guzzle come clocking off time. Of course, it’s even worse in summer... "What do you mean? It's not even dark yet. One more?"
So while you're at it this weekend, why not check out a few of the city's new(ish) haunts. At least that way, come Monday, you'll have more to talk about than your stonking wine flu.
(It’s perhaps no surprise, given the season, that we’ve gone quite cocktail heavy here).
Put simply, Below Stairs represents everything a cocktail bar should be (at least, in my mind); dark, underground, playing old-fashioned music with a unique menu of recipes inspired by the experiences of the bar staff. You can ask for a drink how you like it, or ask them to recommend a twist, and they’ll do so with pleasure, care and finesse. There are also plenty of concoctions on the back bar, like buttered genever, to keep a cocktail enthusiast busy until closing time. The Basement, 12 South Parade, Leeds LS1 5QS
Epicurus / Death & Taxes
Another excellent new addition to the Leeds cocktail scene, Epicurus serves a wide range of wine, cocktails and small plates; and any place where you can order a cheese or charcuterie board until 3:30am is alright by me. Upstairs, you’ll find Death & Taxes, which is a members’ bar (it’s free to sign up) where the booze gets niche and the cocktails get serious until 3am on weeknights and 4am on weekends. It’s exceptionally good too, placing 8th on the UK’s top 50 cocktail bars and 4th outside of London. 3a Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP
Ok, so it's been open just over a year, but many are yet to discover this lively jazz and blue den. The vibe is somewhat reminiscent of the world-famous Nightjar bar in London, and that’s certainly no bad thing. One thing to look out for here is Domino’s weekly “break even” liquid – a spirit of exceptional quality served at a fraction of the normal cost, on a first-come-first-served basis. There have been some seriously good picks for whisky and rum lovers over the last few months. 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds LS1 6PG
Yes, that’s right, the coffee bar on Call Lane. Except it’s more than a coffee bar now, opening its doors until 11pm on weekends with a small but perfectly formed selection of cocktails, sharing jugs and fizz. There’s also the worryingly tempting mention of “daytails” on the menu, when prices are reduced and hardened early starters can get their fix before oozing off into the night. And if you find that you’ve overindulged yet again, you can go back in the morning for a bottomless brunch. 43 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BT
Not a cocktail bar this one, but a brilliant addition to the Leeds beer scene. There was real danger that this beautiful Victorian pub would be allowed to fall into disrepair after its closure, but Kirkstall Brewery have taken it on and given it a new lease of life without wallpapering over the stunning original features. Expect a great selection of craft and cask beer, plenty of freshly made burgers and pasties to work your way through, and all the old nooks and crannies that make our pubs so ruddy special. 364 Kirkstall Rd, Leeds LS4 2HQ