The phenomenon of the cocktail is both rich in tradition and always evolving. Stories of the creations of classics are told in origin and myth, back to the aptly named Old Fashioned through to the more modern Cosmopolitan.
The Cosmopolitan became a household name and an instant classic in the late 20th century when it spread through America’s celebrity scene and onto Leeds’ cocktail menus, where it remains in 2021. The vodka, Cointreau, lime and cranberry juice mix is as fun as it is delicious, and the 7th May celebrates the tipple as Cosmopolitan Day.
We take this as a fine reason to explore Leeds’ best cocktail bars from this day forth, and one street in particular is packed with them: Call Lane. Pedestrianised to allow street seating, and ready to open within, this is the place to go for your short distance cocktail crawl.
A Call Lane mainstay for over two decades, Oporto has continually attracted crowds looking for good people, good music and good drinks. Their cocktails have always excelled, made from a back bar filled with premium cocktails and mixed to boozy perfection. When you’re back here it’s a sign that the good times roll again.
Roland’s is a laid back grown up bar that takes its drinks seriously and provides a casual cool setting to sup them in. Their lovely little outdoor areas tempt orders of Aperol Spritz, or perhaps cosy up and wake up with an Espresso Martini. Or choose any off a menu that does the classics just right with the occasional twist and you’ll be happy.
The bright lights of the big city shine neon at Cuckoo, a sign to welcome back the party. There’s nothing subtle about this place which screams bonkers in a way that keeps everyone entertained. But that’s not at the expense of quality, as their showstopping cocktails confirm, ranging from a brilliantly bizarre Blueberry Muffin to a stylishly bitter Blood Orange Negroni.
Call Lane Social
Call Lane Social is a friendly cool and casual city hangout, at which you’re guaranteed a traditional good quality drink. All the classic cocktails, from French Martinis to White Russians, are here to satisfy. Upstairs is an altogether different experience but no less excellent. Tiki Hideaway is a tropical urban beach party which serves sweet sweet cocktails! Pineapple packed Pina Colada or fire fuelled Amputated Zombie, anyone?
If you associated the cocktail with a city it would surely be New York, right? Cool cats sipping through the 1920s, or city slickers slurping through the 1980s, NYC resonates with the glamour of the drink, and of course has its very own Manhattan. Brooklyn is very much the current cool borough of the city, and the Leeds bar of the same name replicates all of this with a classic cocktail list which can be enjoyed from their vibrant outdoor courtyard.
A 30 year old guitar shop may not seem like the place to go for a cracking cocktail but Northern Guitars has transformed itself to do just that. Still stocking great guitars upstairs, the downstairs and outdoors is now a rock & roll bar. And it doesn’t get much more rock & roll than mixing up a Jack Daniels, and you’ll also find interesting local options too.
Mexican magnificence at the fun Neon Cactus emanates from the tacos to the margaritas. The latter are the go-to on an exciting cocktail menu, with different variations of the tequila favourite, whilst newer inventions invite us to go Dancing with the Devil or enter True Romance.
A basement bar that gets the party started and keeps it going long into the night, Jake’s Bar also packs a mean cocktail punch. Their dedication to the spirit is undoubted by Tabitha, a copper still which makes their own liquors. Currently on their 14th cocktail menu, Jake’s Bar change for the seasons to ensure that the mix of ingredients and flavours are always at the top of their game.
Power, Corruption & Lies
A classy addition to Call Lane that offers something a little different. Power, Corruption & Lies brings influences from Southeast Asia to meet harmoniously with the western world in this swish Leeds space. The cocktail menu stands out as something special: unique mixes include cardamon bitters and matcha tea syrups; intriguing spirits include Roku Gin, Grey Goose Vodka and Toki Whiskey; all together they make for a cocktail and high ball selection that does indeed pack some power.
And that’s all just on the main strip! Up the top and down the bottom and off the side are more bars mixing more cocktails. As Leeds reopens outdoors and then in, it’s fine to celebrate the cocktail by enjoying the abundance of amazing options right here.
Images: Cuckoo, Call Lane Social, Jake’s Bar