There’s no denying that Leeds’ nightlife scene is booming. But for those evenings when you want to have a few relaxed cocktails without shoulder barging your way to the bar and queuing for hours? There’s The Maven. An elusive cocktail bar tucked away at the top of Call Lane, this place screams Prohibition. Blink and you’ll miss the entrance, but head through the unmarked doorway and make your way upstairs where you’ll find low lighting and chilled music.
Choose between cosy spots around the corner or pull up a stool on the high tables opposite the bar and watch the staff do their thing. Either way, take your time to ponder the carefully crafted cocktail list - each one more deliciously different than the last. Prices vary between £8 and £10, so it’s not the cheapest spot in town, but these flavours are worth every penny.
We asked our friendly bartender for his recommendation and he suggested we try Call Me Big Pepper - a fiery, short number that packed a punch. A base of Don Q Blanco Rum, roasted red pepper, pineapple, citrus and chillies give this drink its namesake, with a perfectly balanced kick of spice that keeps us sipping, no milk needed.
If there’s one thing that The Maven does incredibly well, it’s flavour. A mixture of Beefeater gin, coconut, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and citrus, The Bangkok Club sits perfectly between sweet, zingy and exotic. Just imagine drinking your favourite Thai dish. For something a little more bitter, we opted for Shakes on a Plane. A punchy blend of Appleton rum, Amaro, fig, citrus and rose petal, this was one smooth pick.
Stepping up to the flair mark, our bartender gave us a little showmanship with the Ruby Reviver. Finished off with a spray of absinthe over a naked flame, this was one to watch. In all honesty, I’m not sure what it added to the taste, but it was impressive. Flavours of sloe gin, blackberry and port made this a strong choice, but with sweet and rich undertones it proved to be another tasty concoction.
If you’re a fan of a dessert cocktail then the Black Forest Negroni will satisfy your craving. Bitter chocolate was offset with the addition of red wine and a cherry garnish for a tasty twist on a classic. Thanks to the addition of Monkey 47 gin and Campari, it was a strong, aromatic concoction and the perfect way to round off our evening.
The DesignMyNight Digest
If you’re looking for cocktails to tingle every single one of your tastebuds, The Maven is hard to beat. Ditching the party bar vibes in favour of crafted drinks and quiet corners, this city centre favourite places the spotlight firmly on flavour and flair. Date night destination? Absolutely.