Bar review: Tails and Spirits, Sovereign Place, Leeds

Tails and Spirits, in Sovereign Place, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Tails and Spirits, in Sovereign Place, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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In a city saturated with cocktail bars, proprietors certainly have to earn a strong reputation in Leeds.

Whether you have a quirky niche, like the chocolate-shop Roast and Conch, in Boar Lane, or you go for modernity, variety and value like Mook, in Hirst’s Yard, to build a good name for yourself you’ve got to stand out from the crowd.

The latest bar to step up the mixing plate is Tails and Spirits, under the railway arches in Sovereign Place opposite The Hilton.

You can’t really see the venue from the main thoroughfare of Neville Street, but essentially this place sits alongside a retail unit, Silks “gentleman’s lounge” and the El Topo Mexican burrito joint.

Its slightly questionable location, surrounded by offices and off the beaten track, and the distinct lack of nearby bar competition from the offset begs the question, ‘who are they trying to attract?’

Nevertheless open-minded, we popped along to hopefully sip some quality cocktails and see what this brand-spanking new bar had to offer.

With a quaint little beer garden out front and a floor-to-ceiling glass frontage, this deep venue and its funky mezzanine layout has plenty of potential.

Stepping inside, it didn’t quite hit the heights however. It was quiet, in fact it was dead, but midweek just a couple of weeks after opening, it’s only natural that things may get off to a slow start.

The decor somehow feels tired in places, slightly chintzy and far more reminiscent of bassy nightclub than a cosmopolitan, multifaceted cocktail bar. The huge speakers upstairs blaring out a mixture of rap and hiphop early on was testament to that.

Downstairs you come to a simple black wooden bar to the left, which like many of the walls is fitted with mirrors, while there are simple flags underfoot and a selection of dark cushioned stools and leather armchairs dotted around the venue. It’s all nice enough but lacks a bit of attention to detail – particularly upstairs.

There are slightly grand yet weathered yellow armchairs that have seen better days, sloppy paintwork on the large feature lights above and cheap-to-the-touch tables with tacky champagne buckets built in.

The venue has its highlights though – the spiral staircase, arched ceiling and lengthy leather banquette are impressive.

And though the decor may leave a little to be desired, with a bar name like Tails and Spirits, you’d at least expect a pretty focussed menu.

Given that the venue is new to Leeds, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge, but we were handed a list of just six classic cocktails and four sharers.

Otherwise there are bottled beers and ciders, a small array on draught and a small wine selection. You can also order shisha flavoured tobacco here.

We went for a simple whiskey, bitters and orange peel £10.50 Old Fashioned and a citrus and rum £7 Daiquiri. Both admittedly tasted quite nice but the service was very drawn out and adding into the mix bottles of Becks and Peroni lager, the bill came to an expensive £24.70.

You can’t help but feel that the menu here is a little limited and overpriced, while the decor generally feels less than luxurious.

The owners of Tails and Spirits may be trying to attract a sophisticated post-work crowd from nearby offices, but unless its flaws are ironed out this place is at risk of becoming a lairy pre or post-Silks drinking hole. It’s a nice space with plenty of potential to be more than that however.

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