Bar review: 53 Degrees North, Leeds city centre

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

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IT’S the hottest day of the year and in a bid to make the most of the sunshine, I arrange to meet a friend for a quick drink.

Walking to the station to meet her after her camping trip, I go through a list of bars with outdoor areas so we can make the most of the heatwave.

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But when I arrive, my friend is exhausted in the 31 degree heat and begs me to find the closest air-conditioned spot.

For someone who has been stuck in an office all day, it’s not exactly what I was hoping for.

But I escort her through City Square, jealously eyeing up the sun-drenched tables and crowd of cocktail-swigging customers, to bring her to one of the city centre’s newest bars.

By the time we arrive at 53 Degrees North – just a stone’s throw from the train station – I am finally in agreement with the air conditioning idea and we are hit with a blast of cool air as we enter.

The cocktail lounge recently took over the ground floor of Goodbard House and adjoins neighbouring tapas restaurant Ricci’s.

Towards the back of the bar there is a lift that actually acts as a secret doorway to the venue on the other side.

There is only one other table occupied, as everyone else is most likely soaking up the sunshine elsewhere. However we are perfectly happy in our cool little haven.

The airy room has a modern, minimalist theme with some splashes of colour such as a mural on one of the walls and exposed brick.

We take a seat on one of the large, white leather booths by the window and flick through the drinks menu.

There is a good choice of cocktails, which are divided into ‘signature’, ‘contemporary and twisted classics’ and ‘champagne’, priced from £6.50 to £9.50, with most around £7.

A small glass of white wine starts at a very reasonable £4, with bottled beer and Estrella Galicia on draught at the same price.

For those pushing the boat out, champagne is also available from £55 to £500 and bottles of spirits can also be bought.

The friendly bartender helps us with our choices and advises me to go for the Lemon Pie, with vanilla vodka, amaretto, Frangelico, lemon juice, limoncello and egg white at £7.

I see a few flames behind the bar as the egg white is slightly crisped on top, making it into a slightly uncooked meringue-type texture. It’s exactly what I was after and is sweet and refreshing.

My companion goes for a Mediterranean Bramble with gin, lemon juice, homemade thyme syrup, basil and berry liqueur at £8. She thoroughly enjoys her drink, which is poured over plenty of ice and helps her cool down.

The quality drinks and surroundings combined with the reasonable price tag could mean this bar quickly becomes the hottest place in town.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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