Dirty Martini may be a new contender on the Leeds food and drink scene, but it's already got a loyal following, from after-work drinks through to a pit stop on a Saturday night. Since it's opening, I'd heard a lot about the spot, from its love of all things martini through to the one-of-a-kind decor; there was only one thing for it - to head down and try it out myself.
Venue and Atmosphere
Situated in the business district of Leeds, Dirty Martini is the perfect venue for after-work drinks and nibbles on a school night. Even if it's not a school night, the venue proves seductive with a bar-dancefloor combo for weekend moves, as well as being tantalisingly close to Greek Street should you prefer to bar crawl on your night out.
Inside, you’ll find a sophisticated teal and gold colour palette, with plush armchairs that manage to look fancy while actually being comfortable. I’m here on a Thursday, and the music is cranked up to just the right volume for pre-Friday-night tipples – loud enough to create a drink-worthy atmosphere and consider skipping work tomorrow, but not so loud that you can’t hear your companion's gossip.
The lighting is moody and glowing, the kind that makes you a solid 10/10, and that - paired with the cosy seating and need to be knee-touchingly close to talk - makes this a perfect place for dates. In fact, most people seem to have the same idea, as the smart venue hums with couples basking in the flattering light and enjoying the swanky vibes - all without it feeling crowded.
The Food and Drinks
The drinks menu here is intensive, with cocktails split into three sections including The Dirty Dozen which features twelve unusual concoctions. The Classics Menu, meanwhile, has – you guessed it – all the classics, from Old Fashioned to Daquiris.
True to their name, the humble martini gets a whole section complete with 15 different martini cocktails, from the straight up Dirty Martini (Ketel One Vodka or Tanqueray Gin stirred with olives, thyme and Martini Extra Dry Vermouth) to the fruitier versions that use syrups and admonishments to balance out the hard liquor.
The Dragon Fruit & Pomegranate Martini (£9) is sophisticated and sweet, without being overly syrupy – a good option if you want a cocktail you can order multiple times! The Passion Fruit Martini is fun, fruity and equally delicious, but likely to be too sweet after a couple. When you're not snapping pictures of yourself against the futuristic decor, every martini served is 100% Instagrammable.
While it’s drinks that Dirty Martini specialises in, they also have a small food menu that’s perfect for absorbing alcohol and keeping up your energy levels. There's a range of smaller bites, or if you can’t decide on one thing, you can choose from two set platters available in vegetarian, and a ‘distinctively dirty’ meat option. We opted for the Distinctively Dirty platter (£14.50) which we split between two with five nibbles each. Unless you are having the platter as a starter for food elsewhere, or have a particularly small appetite, this is not a two person portion. The food is tasty, but not filling - let’s face it, you’re going to need to line your stomach for all those martinis you're going to be drinking.
Dirty Martini is a sophisticated bar – I’d go as far as to say suave – with a good atmosphere all week round. It’s perfect for post-work drinks, dates, and all round alcohol-based plans. While the food and cocktails are not exactly cheap straight off the menu, they run their Happy Hour from 4pm – 10pm Monday – Thursday, 4pm – 8pm Friday and Saturday, and all day Sunday. During these times, you can pick up a bottle of red for £12.50, with other offers including half price martinis, £20 bottles of prosecco, which actually makes it good value for money – particularly when you get to enjoy the classy vibes the bar has to offer.