Bar review: The Rum Shack, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
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Bouts of sweltering sun have given Leeds welcome warmth as temperatures have soared in recent weeks.

It doesn’t normally take much for weather to be deemed worthy of shorts and T-shirts in Leeds, although usually with a wince as the city blows a gale, but some of the hottest June and July days on record have left most of us overdressed.

The intense heat has even thrown out unfortunate flip flops and unnecessary vests, with some city centre visitors seemingly confusing Briggate with Barbados.

It seems Caribbean spirit has made its way on to our streets, making Leeds’ latest bar a fitting holidaymaker.

The Rum Shack, an experimental pop-up bar based between The Belgrave Music Hall and Sandinista in Cross Belgrave Street, has burst into Leeds for a rum-fueled summer stint in the city centre.

Open seven days a week until September 5, the venue is the brainchild of Hedonist Drinks – a trio of Leeds bartenders who have 30 years of experience in the likes of Smokestack, Sandinista and Epernay.

On our sunny late afternoon visit there were visibly chilled punters slumped in comfy deck chairs outside and a plethora of post-work visitors supping cocktails and rum mixers on retro furniture inside.

Reggae music blended into the background of a bar that is stripped back to the bone with weathered, crumbling plaster on every part-painted wall, mismatched jumble sale furniture and a central pastel-painted shack-turned-bar.

The bar shack itself has its own metal panelled roof and is bordered with a string of playful lantern lights. It has all the hallmarks of a low budget venue but somehow captures the quirky, cool, free spirited Caribbean vibe.

With the sun shining, there is something fun about this place – its cream tiled floors, random beach-themed pictures and ample fruit – that makes it feel more sun baked than historically neglected.

The menu is short and sweet, with a changeable blackboard of six £6 cocktails, while there are two fridges stacked with beer, cider and wine. They’re not short of rum here either.

We went for a couple of cocktails, with a white rum, pineapple and orange Reggae Rum Punch and a tangy pomegranate mixed rum Hurricane. Both were strong, featuring hefty Wray & Nephew rum, but equally tasty and befitting of the summer sun. With the addition of two cans of Jamaican Red Stripe our bill came to a good value £20.

The Rum Shack does what it says on the tin. It’s a stripped-back bar on a budget that manages to make a lot out of a little and adds something exciting and new to a drink in Leeds’ Northern Quarter.

The city is arguably short of a dedicated rum bar, so make the most of this place while it lasts.