Bar review: Azucar, Brewery Place, Leeds City Centre

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Cuban cigars, South American-inspired cocktails and travel memorabilia paying homage to rebellious icon Howard Marks adorn this tapas laden retreat in Leeds.

Situated a stone’s throw from the banks of the River Aire, Azucar, in Brewery Place, is a self-styled Latino getaway.

On a sun-drenched week day evening, Barfly popped by in the hope of securing a spot in the bar/ restaurant’s cosy beer garden but as it was so busy, we had to settle for a couple of seats by the window.

And just peering outside you can see that you’re not going to have to walk far to find a change of drinking scene.

Azucar counts sister bar Oracle as its closest neighbour, while punters can visit nearby PIN Bar or venture across the river to visit Calls Landing or walk a bit further to find the bars at the bottom end of Call Lane.

The venue itself is a terracotta melting pot of cushioned leather booths and stools, dark weathered wooden furniture, checkered floors, ceiling fans and thick-framed mirrors.

It’s a simplistically styled bar dotted with eye-catching South America-related newspaper cuttings, old beer barrels, a mini palm tree and portraits of Howard Marks – who neighbours, visits and apparently added his own creative edge to the bar.

And the theme is evident but not overbearing, so you’re not going to have to endure the prerecorded strummings of stereotypically chirpy Latino bands – it’s all a little bit more laid back.

The playlist here features classic rock from the likes of The Who much of the time, although the bar also hosts some of the city’s only regular South American club nights showcasing the latest in Cuban and Colombian salsa and reggaeton music.

The menu at Azucar is suitably themed, with around 25 mainly rum or tequila-based cocktails to choose from along with a selection of sangria pitchers.

There are a handful of white, red and rose wines to try, along with champagnes and sparkling varieties. Azucar stocks only Somersby cider and San Miguel lager on draught but there are plenty more to sample in the fridges.

We went for a sweet but delicious tequila, rhubarb liquor and apple juice Azucar Terraza along with a simple rum, Pepsi and lime Cuba Libre.

With the addition of a pint of Somersby cider and a bottle of San Miguel lager, the bill came to £19.70.

The cocktails here are lovely and priced mainly around the £6.50 mark, which is not unusually expensive in Leeds, and there is a two-for-one offer on selected mixes on Thursday evenings which is worth a look.

Open on Tuesday to Thursday, from 5pm to 11pm, on Friday, from 4pm to late, and on Saturday and Sunday, from 2pm to late, this place is very much a venue aimed at post-work drink punters as much as Latino music lovers.

And on our visit, given the timing, the bar’s beer garden was packed with workers as well as the 20 to 40-year-old crowd from the apartments around Brewery Wharf.

There is often a diverse mix of people in here though, particularly due to its strong reputation with diners for its tapas.

Overall it has to be said that Azucar has spotted a niche and executed it well.

The laid back South American vibe, cosy beer garden, well constructed cocktail menu and traditional yet comfortable styling make this place well worth a visit.