IT DOESN’T MATTER how swish the bar, how cool the décor, how interesting the drinks menu or how smart the clientele, it’s the quality of the bar staff which makes or breaks a business.
I’ve heard that said so many times but on a visit to one of Leeds’s most popular bars it struck me as being so, so true.
We were on a celebratory night out with friends we haven’t been out with for a while and decided to try some of the most fashionable bars in Leeds and recapture some of our diminishing youth. We are all in our 50s but feel younger at heart.
Now 53 Degrees North is a bar we might have normally walked past: too young and trendy for us these days. But we decided to give it a go and, boy, are we glad we did.
It might be full of glamorous types but the one feature which really impressed us was the bar staff. Or rather, one barman in particular.
It didn’t matter that the bar was crowded with early-evening Saturday night revellers, and that smart as we were, we weren’t head to toe in designer gear or make-up.
Danny P was his name (according to the bar receipt). We asked for Leeds Gin but they had just run out. Never mind, he said, try Whittaker’s gin from Harrogate. It’s worth a try. Very popular, he said.
In between asking us about how we wanted the gin garnished, he was engaging in small talk with a guy at the bar about a brewery he’d just been to in La Corunua on a fact-finding mission. Nice work if you can get it.
We’ve been in far quieter bars and had less interesting bar staff. Full marks to Danny P.
So, I had the Whittaker’s gin (£4.25) and my mate Paul had Tanqueray (£3.75) with a bottle each of Fever Tree tonic water (£1.50 each) while our wives had Bella Moda Pinto Grigio (£6.50) and Nostross Sauvignon Blanc (£7.50).
Now Whittaker’s gin is said to fresh and traditional with juniper and coriander and a hint of citrus balanced by floral notes.
Now, I’m no gin expert, but this did taste more interesting than some mass market gins on offer. I think I need to explore these newer gins a little more. The whole bill was £25, not bad for four drinks in a fashionable bar.
It was busy when we arrived but the bar staff found us a table, albeit we needed to vacate when people who had booked it arrived. The tables
To be strictly accurate, this bar doesn’t have barstaff. They are mixologists and, from our experience, are well able to advise.
This bar is well placed, not far from the train station. It makes it a good place to start or finish an evening.
It’s a beautifully equipped bar and has an interesting food menu, too.
There is a specialist champagne bar, gin bar and a regular programme of DJs to keep the atmosphere spot on.
53 Degrees North, Infirmary Street, Leeds.