29 Call Lane
Jakeís Bar can be found on the infamous Call Lane in Leeds. From people looking for a quiet drinks, to the fussy indie kids that want good music, and even those wanting pre-club drinks, the street caters for all, making it a hub of activity on most evenings. Jakeís is a relative newcomer to the street Ė itís toilets used to be the offices for Oportos next door, and itís bar area used to be part of a car park!
To go to Call Lane on a weekend is to encounter live DJís playing great indie music, bars packed to the rafters with people enjoying themselves immensely, and barely a whiff of a cocktail menu. As an ex resident of Leeds (itís where I grew up), Iím not sure Iíd ever want to order a cocktail on these evenings, for one thing thereíd be little chance of making it back from the bar without most of the drink ending up on my shoes! And in those situations a G&T will more than sufficeÖ
I therefore carefully picked a Sunday as my night of choice to go back and sample the íseriousí drinks. A quiet night for obvious reasons, I hoped I would be able visit a few bars, sit back, hold a conversation with my friend without having to yell across the table at her, and sample the cocktails on offer.
I was hugely surprised at just how different Jakeís was to how Iíd previously experienced it Ė it was pretty much empty, with loads of room to sit, cocktail menus on each of the tables, and the music had been reduced to such a level that we were able to have a conversation without shouting into the other personís ear!
However, even if I hadnít experienced the bar when it was busy, you can tell that it gets busy busy busy as itís a bit tatty around the edges (especially the toilets). The tables also sit around the edges of the room so that there are large open spaces to accommodate the hoards of weekend drinkers and dancers. This means that it feels a bit vast and somewhat draughty when itís quiet.
Whatís nice though, is that the staff truly do seem to care about cocktails. Too often in places such as this, where most of the time cocktails arenít the norm, the standard of drinks easily slips. However those that we tried (The Clover Club, Blighty Mojito, Large Hadron Colada, and Aviation) were really well made, well balanced (with the exception of the Mojito which had FAR too much sugar syrup in it), and well presented. We were also given shots of Jagermeister with every round. Iím not sure how I feel about thisÖas whilst I LOVE Jager, it was a Sunday, and a couple of quiet drinks could have easily ended up becoming very very messy, so after the first round we politely declined.
The cocktail menu itself is very cool, labelled as an ĎImbibers Almanací, describing itself as ďA ladyís and gentlemanís companion: A condensed guide to the popular mixed drinks of the 19th 20th, and 21st centuryĒ. It is then split into various sections: 19th Century, I love 70s & 80s, Future Proof, The Jazz Age, and the tiki tastic Island Drinks section. They immediately reminded me of the style of the menus at the Portobello Star I was surprised how similar they were. I got chatting to the bartenders about this and was informed that the two venues are owned by the same company, with the patron of the classics, Jake Burger as their drinks director, this explained it all!
If you go to Jakeís for cocktails, make sure itís early in the week and you wonít be disappointed. If you go later on in the week be prepared for stuffy doormen, loud music and little chance of a cocktail. That being said youíre pretty much guaranteed to have a good night anyway, and you may even get the chance to dance on the bar at the end of the night in true Call Lane tradition if youíre lucky. I like the menu, and the quirkily named cocktails Ė indeed the only reason I tried the Large Hadron Colada was because of the name (I used to work at CERN!). I also enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, and friendly bar staff, but it is a bit tatty around the edges, and feels vast without the partying hoards of Leeds filling it to the rafters.
0113 204 8888
A Bank Holiday weekend usually means a trip back up north to visit my family. This Easter was no exception, and I decided to take my Mum out for cocktails while I was visiting her in Leeds. Whilst there are quite a few cocktail bars in Leeds that iím desperate to review (like Sandinista and Smokestack) most of these donít really strike me as a place my mum would like, and my only other option Ė Mojos Ė was a little too far for our tired feet to take us after a busy day shopping. We therefore ended up in Harvey Nichols in their fourth floor bar.
Nestled in the corner of the restaurant, the small bar area is modern in its design with lots of mirrors and stainless steel. The bar itself contrasts nicely with the squishy booths that run around itís edge, but the problem is that these booths completely block the great views out of the top floor windows -such a shame.
A quick browse through the menu showed that the cocktails on offer were pretty standard and unsurprisingly expensive. I imagine that most of the menu was designed at least 3 years ago, and it hasnít changed much since. Whilst this isnít always a problem, I couldnít find anything that particularly interested me or any variation of a classic that Iíd not tried a million times before. However, there were a few straight classics that will always be my go to drinks, that will tempt me in the absence of interesting new twists. I was therefore looking forward to a Breakfast Martini, especially after the amazing one I had in Tigerlily earlier this year. Unfortunately my Mum had to drink, but there was a good selection of non-alcoholic cocktails on the menu that she was keen to try, finally settling on a Citrus Punch. As our hunger couldnít wait until the restaurant we also ordered some snacks, however our first choice of olives were unfortunately unavailable (good job I didnít want a Martini) and so we had some lovely chilli crackers instead, but beware Ė my mum needed a glass of water after a couple!!
When our drinks arrived I was pretty disappointed with the Breakfast Martini. There wasnít the sharp bite that I expect, and I found the whole thing too watery from over shaking. It was also far too big, filling the glass to the brim Ė again possibly from the over shaking. However it has to be said the Citrus Punch was one of the nicest non-alcoholic cocktails Iíve had in a while (not that I tend to drink many).
All in all I was pretty disappointed with Harvey Nichols. While the cocktail bar itself is well designed and what youíd expect from the brand, but their cocktail selection was disappointing, and my drink was poorly made Ė indeed the only redeeming factor was the excellent service.