Bar review: The Brotherhood, New Briggate, Leeds

The Brotherhood bar, Leeds Grand Arcade, New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.

The Brotherhood bar, Leeds Grand Arcade, New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.

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Being consigned to the fact that we’ll probably fail to get anywhere near winning the next FIFA World Cup – if we even make it there at all – is all part of the English psyche.

National sporting pride, however, is still something that runs through the veins of most us, whether you’re English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh, but amid talk of break aways from the United Kingdom we probably don’t take quite as much pride as we should in our collective history.

The Brotherhood bar, Leeds Grand Arcade, New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.

The Brotherhood bar, Leeds Grand Arcade, New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.

At least that’s what the folks behind Leeds’s newest sports bar think. The Brotherhood – or to give it its full title, The Brotherhood of Pastimes and Pursuits – is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of old British bartending and sport.

Riddled in language you might hear on a black and white newsreel, this themed bar is a jolly well entertaining throwback with a fresh twist.

Situated in the grand entrance to what was BED Club/ Gatecrasher at Leeds Grand Arcade, The Brotherhood is the latest in a long line of interesting new venues to pop up in Leeds’s burgeoning Northern Quarter.

As you walk in through the archway entrance there is a cosy table-laden corner to the left and a couple of steps leading into the glorious domed centre piece in front of you. There you meet a beautiful section of the old Victorian arcade.

It’s a huge central space. Lined with period beams and home to the main metal-topped wood bar, its overlooked by a first floor balcony, which is home to a pool table and secondary cocktail bar.

Stripped brick walls, parquet and weathered wood panelled flooring combine with the beamed ceilings and gorgeous arched windows, characterising a throwback space that is decorated with quirky trinkets from globes and mounted wooden golf clubs to wall mounted stags heads and a stuffed hare posed holding a hunting rifle.

All that is blended with multiple plasma screen TVs, some playing sport and others screening The Brotherhood’s charming house rules, depicting it as a vintage clubhouse for modern times.

Pleasingly, on our visit, the bar’s soundtrack seemed themed too, with the likes of The Smiths, Stone Roses, Franz Ferdinand and Jake Bugg sticking to the old-meets-new Union Jack theme. The menu also fits well with the retro patriotism evident here, with a selection of Best of British Bartenders and Best of British Spirits-labelled cocktails sitting alongside a dozen classic mixes.

You can also choose from 15 white, red, rose or sparkling wines and champagnes, two real ales, seven draught beers and ciders or dozens of bottled choices. If you’re hungry, you can even indulge in a pie.

We went for a pair of cocktails, with a gin, mint, lime, tonic water and soda Blighty Mojito and a rum, ginger and orange juice 24/7. The former was dominated by the soda but was an interesting twist on a classic, while the latter was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. Followed up by pints of Heineken beer and Symonds cider, our bill came to a slightly pricey £21.50.

In all honesty, I wasn’t too sure how this concept would pan out. As a sports bar aiming to recreate the ‘stadium feel’, combined with a retro image, it seemed a bit unusual.

But The Brotherhood is an innovative new bar that is by no means off-puttingly masculine or defined by the predictable clichés of the average man den sports bar. Instead, it’s a stylish, airy and impressive addition.

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