In the Grand Arcade, Tailors is just that in the day before transforming into a gin lounge at night. This lovely little place plays on the sophistication of gin, like stepping back in time to 1920s elegance. Not only that, they also create their own small batch craft gin that’s well worth a tipple or two. Opposite and underground, you’ll find The Domino Club, a popular speakeasy with a reputation for some of the city’s best cocktails and spirits alongside live jazz that hollers out for an accompanying Tom Collins or such like. And a few steps down the Arcade and up two floors brings you out at the impressive Porco Rosso, above its sister restaurant Stuzzi. This cool Italian drinking haunt mixes magnificent cocktails from fine ingredients, notably the gin, campari, vermouth and orange peel joys of Negroni.
The atmosphere and quality here is not dissimilar to that at the original secret upstairs hideaway The Maven. Masterful mixologists stir up flavours of elderflower, lemon and apple in The Gin Garden, one of several stunning gin based cocktails. A welcome and welcoming newcomer with an equally excellent gin selection is a game of two halves – a cafe by day that quite literally transforms into a bar at night. Whilst the latter is obviously more booze heavy, there are delicious gin concoctions such as Martinis served appropriately throughout.
Perhaps the bar with the biggest collection of gins, and one born out of one man’s obsession before it became cool, is Lazy Lounge. This is an eccentric yet accomplished space, where it’s difficult not to order one or more of the hundreds of varieties of gins, from crowd pleasers to rarities. These can be sampled too at their generous gin tastings, which are great fun and suitable for beginners and aficionados alike.
It doesn’t end there either, as you can take your love home by picking up bottles of gin, whether from one of the dozens of Yorkshire distillers or one of the thousands worldwide, from a couple of cracking independent stores. Latitude is a long-standing wine specialist that also stocks terrific spirits, including gins that they’ll happily help advise on. Little Leeds Beerhouse too goes beyond its name by offering well selected gins alongside the beers.
All of this is celebrated at annual events, Leeds Gin Fair in the Corn Exchange and Leeds Gin and Rum Festival in the Town Hall. They’re a nice excuse to get on the mother’s ruin early and stick with it. But with the above offerings all year round, there’s already more than enough gin-spiration around the city to get responsibly ruined.