A subtly-marked open doorway and dim-lit corridor is the unassuming entrance to the latest ‘secret bar’ in Leeds.
The Blind Tyger Drinking Den, in Cross Belgrave Street, is a moody, dark wood and leather booth-filled upstairs getaway situated above its sister bar Sandinista.
Its mysterious street-level entrance, lined with classic striped wallpaper, lit artwork and wooden flooring, is easy to miss – placed between Sandinista and the increasingly popular Belgrave Music Hall.
It leads you up a word play staircase that culminates with a “Den of Drinkers” sign as you enter the first floor bar.
Treading the thin line between ultra-cool and slightly pretentious, this quirky bar has all the hallmarks of a quality cocktail-focussed bar.
Much like Barfly favourite The Maven, in Call Lane, Blind Tyger has a somewhat secretive yet classy, vintage feel – typified by an eye-catching wooden bar, a chinging old metal till, sculpted dark wood wall highlights and a mock stag’s head in one corner.
As quite a compact venue, it hosts a sea of cosy leather booths that are cleverly lit by festive holly fairylights but the centre-piece bar is certainly the star of the show.
Blind Tyger’s elaborate Victorian-style patterned wallpaper and antique touches continue the classic theme.
After taking a pew in one of the many available booths, we were served at our table by the barman who instantly poured us glasses of water, which was a nice attentive touch.
We were then handed Blind Tyger’s clipboard-mounted menu, which is printed on scroll-like aged brown paper to again add to that vintage feel.
It stars a selection of 15 unusual cocktail mixes, priced at £6.50 to £8, with the Popcorn Mai Tai and the Blind Mary – described only with an Oscar Wilde quote – catching the eye more than most.
Aside from that there are around a dozen bottled beers and real ales on offer along with eight varieties of red wine and four whites to choose from. We couldn’t spot any draught choices, ciders or rose wines on the menu.
We decided to sample the cocktails, with a 12-year-old whisky, Campari and vermouth-centred Fleur Du Mal, which was flavoured with honey and grapefruit syrup to offer a strong, refreshing taste.
My companion chose a bourbon-based Gospel Sour which, flavoured with chocolate bitters, honey and vanilla, was smooth and sweet – thickened by egg whites. Both came carefully presented in thick cut glasses.
We followed those with bottles of Quilmes beer and Brooklyn Brown Ale to bring the bill to a costly but agreeable £23.10.
The whole Blind Tyger experience was pretty enjoyable in fairness, though the elaborately delivered theme and attention to detail make it somewhere more suitable for an intimate drink than a lively group get together.
The low tempo hiphop soundtrack adds to the old-meets-new atmosphere, which is aimed to bring in the city’s cool young things and cocktail connoisseurs.
On our midweek visit, it was pretty quiet as we only had a mid-20s couple and a pair of older men for company but that is understandable given Blind Tyger is barely two months old.
All but a cub at the minute, this quirky cocktail bar caters to a different niche than Northern Quarter neighbours like It Bar, Mojo and The Pit. It is a great addition to the Leeds bar scene.