From Yorkshire Lass to Jalisco’s Secret, make sure to order these on your next bar hop
It augurs well for June’s Battle of the Breweries that Leeds has already established its boozy credentials, when it comes to cocktails at least.
At last month’s Northern Restaurant Bar show at Manchester Central, the NRB Cocktail Competition was won by Hamish Smith of Jake’s Bar: proof, if it was needed, that the Leeds mixological scene is at least equal and probably superior to its trans-Pennine rival (football, alas, is another matter).
In a cocktail shoot-off held in collaboration with sponsors Double Dutch drinks, Hamish’s twin efforts trounced the opposition. Impressive was his blend of Remy Martin Cognac, plum sake, plum bitters, basil and pomegranate, but it was pipped by his Cool as Cucumber, Cold as Chilli; a refreshing, spicy combo of chilli and pisco sour, St Germain French elderflower liqueur, cucumber and watermelon soda.
The Call Lane bar has been around a decade but still has few peers. That’s why it kicks off our Five Favourite Cocktails in Leeds…
JALISCO’S SECRET – JAKES BAR & STILL ROOM
We’re very tempted to champion either of Hamish’s NRB hits or the redoubtable Salvia - made up of Bacardi, sage and amontillado syrup, sweet vermouth, lemon juice and pineapple juice - but a current blackboard special, Jalisco’s Secret, is our tip. A mix of Tapatio Blanco tequila, Gammeldansk bitter dram, apple, berry tea syrup and citrus. That said, you can’t really go wrong with anything on Jakes’ drinks list and Tabitha, their 30 litre copper pot still, is a treasurable source of homemade liqueurs and distillates. 29 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BT
GOD’S OWN COCKTAIL – BLIND TYGER
Tucked away between Belgrave Music Hall and Sandinista, this opulent Victorian themed drinking den is still burning bright. There are many legendary cocktails to tackle, including the likes of the Eagle’s Dream (gin, violet liqueur, lemon, sugar and a whipped egg) but we go back time and again for their signature God’s Own Cocktail: a stunning combo of rhubarb infused Wyborowa vodka, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice and raspberries (£7.50). 5 Cross Belgrave Street, LS2 8JP
YORKSHIRE LASS – VICE & VIRTUE
Ascend the stairs from the angular entrance at the top of New Briggate and enter a truly hospitable cocktail lab, majoring menu-wise in an array of spirit-specific tipples from rum to champagne, agave spirits to gin. From the latter it’s a tough choice: a former fave was Yellow Fever (Death’s Door gin infused with saffron, Lillet Blanc vermouth, Cointreau, coriander and lemon), but recently we’ve fallen for a Yorkshire Lass (£9.50), which consists of Leopoldo gin, rhubarb and apple press, Briottet rhubarb liqueur and lemon. 68 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU
LA HUERTA – BELOW STAIRS
Check out our recent review of this underground haunt, where we barely scratched the surface of an astonishing narrative-led cocktail list. If we had to pick one, we’d settle for La Huerta. A homage to the green belt around Valencia, it’s a savoury melange of saffron gin, PX sherry, fresh orange chamomile bitters, paprika, black walnut and smoked salt. Like many of Below Stairs’ offerings, it’s also a thing of rare beauty, with edible paper creating a tableau of bull and bullfighter on its creamy surface (main image). 12 S Parade, Leeds, LS1
VELVET GREEN MARTINI – THE BOTANIST
Not every botanical twist on the classics works at this horticultural hideaway, behind Holy Trinity Church - perhaps too many rose petals and bushy herb decorations - but their Velvet Green Martini (£7.25) certainly does. This chlorophyllic blend of cloudy apple juice, green apple liqueur, kiwi, egg white and lemon juice, shaken with Tanqueray gin feels like the cocktail equivalent of clean eating. 67 Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6HW