Beach side panoramas and infectious salsa music come to mind when you think of Mediterranean sangria.
The wine, fruit and brandy mix has been a staple part of Spanish and Portuguese diets for generations, and now it seems the concoction could be taking a more prominent role with Leeds residents.
The city’s La Tasca tapas restaurant, in Russell Street, reopened its doors earlier this month to unveil the UK’s first Bar de Sangria.
Intrigued as to whether the sun drenched pallet cleanser would have the same appeal in Leeds as it does in Lanzarote, we decided to give it a go.
As you walk into this Spanish sanctuary from Greek Street, you are instantly greeted by authentic accents and Spanish styling but the location of the bar itself is a bit of a mystery at first glance.
The ground floor eatery is teeming with tapas-loving diners, while its newly-launched bar concept bubbles away downstairs.
We were guided down an impressive cream spiral staircase into the warmly lit cavern below.
Bar de Sangria features a handful of white-painted wooden booths with cream leather cushioning, which sit around simple oak tables that are given a scarlet glow by the low hanging lamps above.
It’s encased in bare brick walls, white tiles and a simple cream and red coloured ceiling and matching bar.
A collage of Spanish posters covers the walls nearest to the venue’s small mirror-backed bar, while high stools and large beer barrel-style tables fill the rest of the space.
But it does feel a little fresh and untested in some ways. The bar stools are too tall for the tables, while diners filled the bar itself, which made ordering drinks through a hungry crowd a little difficult.
Nevertheless the menu is decidedly broad, without having quite as much focus on the drink it shares it name with as you might expect.
Aside from traditional sangria, available at £3.95 a glass or £13.95 a pitcher, the only other option is Sangria Del Dia, which can be ordered with a liqueur or cava base.
The Spanish theme does however mean that there are plenty of authentic beers to choose from, with the likes of Estrella and San Miguel available on draught and brews such as Alhambra and Cruzcampo in bottles. Over a dozen red wines, nine whites and a couple of rose wines are also available from £3.95 per glass, along with sparkling and dessert wines and champagne.
Bar de Sangria’s menu also features a dozen classic and speciality cocktails, all priced from £5.25 to £6.25.
We sampled a glass of fresh and fruity sangria and a rum, Cointreau, tequila and vodka Long Island Iced Tea cocktail, which was a little weak. With the addition of pints of San Miguel and Estrella lager – the latter had to be poured separately upstairs – the bill came to decent value £17.80.
There is much to like about Bar de Sangria. It is an underground taste of Spain, with smooth salsa in the background as you’re tended to by slick staff in what is a warm and welcoming venue.
We were joined by groups of girls, and dining groups, on our Saturday night visit although it seems very much a place to pop into after a meal rather than somewhere you’d go especially for a drink.
Bar de Sangria needs to establish its own reputation and as long as it is accessed through the main restaurant and until it is advertised more clearly, the lines between bar and restaurant will likely remain blurred.