Bar review: Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

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There are many reasons to venture out into Leeds’ Northern Quarter these days.

Whether you’re after precision cocktails at Blind Tyger, a rooftop beer at the Belgrave, craft ales at North Bar or ping pong at The Pit – the list could go on and on – this thriving area has it all.

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Bursting with variety, you’re never short of options in the city’s Northern Quarter.

The growing bar competition has led to some casualties, however, and one space that has historically struggled is the Merrion Street corner unit formerly known as It Bar.

In February new owners set about offering the area something new by setting up specialist rum and cocktail bar, Rum & Reason.

Food, craft ales, cocktails and of course rums are aplenty in this polished bar space.

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Rum & Reason, Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The venue is centred around a sheet metal, copper-topped bar, which is set in front of shelves of spirits that back on to the building’s exposed brick walls.

Slate-coloured flooring, aged metal and wooden chairs, thick-set wood tables and hanging lantern lights create a warm and inviting space.

And the Northern Quarter doesn’t really have a specialist rum bar at present, particularly since the Hedonist Project’s temporary Rum Shack pop-up came and went last year.

But there is no Caribbean-inspired reggae theme running through Rum & Reason as you might expect – instead there is more of a greatest hits soundtrack. On our visit we were sipping rum to the sounds of Starship, Travis and Doves.

Then again, there is a drink for pretty much every taste here. There are about 45 rum, sparkling, classic, botanical, mocktail and sweet shop mixes. There are even Toblerone to pineapple cube flavoured mixes as well as a two-for-one menu.

Six draught beers and ciders including Coors, Guinness and strawberry Rekorderlig feature along with dozens of spirits, wines and plenty of craft beer and cider cans and bottles.

We went for a rum, lime, peach bitters and ginger beer St Lucia Mule (£7.95) and a rum, vermouth, Kahlua, chocolate bitters and cinnamon Blow Below the Belt (£7.95).

The former was a jam jar packed with sweet, tangy flavour, while the latter was an unusual coffee chocolate mix that improved as it settled.

With the addition of a pint of Blue Moon beer and a bottle of pear Kopparberg cider our bill came to a pricey £25.10.

Rum & Reason is a bit of a cocktail in itself and in truth not all of its ingredients blend perfectly. The drinks are varied and innovative yet slightly expensive, the decor is pleasant but the music here does dip into cheesy territory now and then.

Nevertheless Rum & Reason’s broad offer and eclectic style make it stand out from a growing crowd.

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