Sitting on Call Lane, Jake's Bar and Still - more fondly known as just Jake's - is an inevitable stop on any night out, weekdays included. Opening from 5pm - 4am depending on the day, the bar ranges from quiet enough for first date chat pre-9pm, to almost too busy to move post midnight. We head over at 7pm when it is still quiet enough to learn more about their new cocktail menu.
The menu was launched to celebrate their fifteenth year in Leeds and they're going for a brand new concept to the UK; each page is filled with cocktails designed by their staff, ranging from Imogen's 'How you Dough'ing' - a cookie dough, coffee and condense milk creation - to Hamish's 'Addicted to Acid!!!' bright green concoction. It's a varied list - each of the five bartenders have four unique cocktails so whatever you fancy, you'll find; unless you're looking for a pitcher of WooWoo's or Sex on the Beach, that is.
The concept came about for two reasons. Jake's is keen to show that bartending is a legit career, and not just a way to make money through uni. Most of the staff are ambassadors for global alcohol brands, and many of Jake's previous employees now work in prestigious companies, or have opened other renowned bars. Most importantly though, they have earned a place on Jake's Wall of Fame.
Current staff are also on the wall, so that no matter how busy Jake's are (and that can be VERY), you can always put a name to their face. This ties in to the second thought behind the cocktail menu: Jake's are keen to foster good customer relationships. By letting each bartender create their own cocktails, their personality can shine through - and knowing their alcohol babies are loved by customers can strengthen the relationship both ways.
The bar's unofficial motto is 'drink less, but better' and the cocktails definitely support this. We try Alex Klas's 'Glasgow Kiss', a whiskey based cocktail with egg white and Irn Bru reduction that comes in at £8.50. The citrus and sweet work with the bitters and whiskey well, while the egg white gives it an appealing foam. We also try his take on the classic 'Strawberry Daiquiri' (£8) made with fresh fruit and a strawberry vermouth in place of liqueur, and his 'Stairway to Devon' (£8) which is ginger ale based and topped with the most pristine cut slices of apple I've ever seen, combining for a light and fresh muddle.
The last cocktail we try is Hamish's 'Breakfast in Cancun' (£7.50), a tequila and ting cocktail which tastes like a Caribbean take on a tequila sunrise but a hundred times nicer. I love a rum and ting but find it gets sickly; the tequila in this brings down the sweetness and makes the drink more palatable.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With the new menu and their clear passion for bartending as a whole, Jake's is a strong contender for Leeds' best cocktails. Just make sure you head over before 9pm if you want to avoid queues when ordering, and sit down when drinking.