Bar review: Vice and Virtue, New Briggate, Leeds

Vice and Virtue, in New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Vice and Virtue, in New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.
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Intricate cocktails, classic decor and a low key vibe make for a great mix.

The Prohibition-inspired style has repeatedly proven a hit among Leeds punters, with the likes of Blind Tyger and Maven offering masterclasses in understated cool.

Vice and Virtue, in New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Vice and Virtue, in New Briggate, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The excitement of stumbling across a ‘secret’ bar, which is not overly advertised or packed to the rafters, is a real asset.

Vice and Virtue, at the top of New Briggate, Leeds, offers that exclusive, undiscovered feel but for seemingly very different reasons – embracing the under-the-radar nature of its past.

It is an unusual, triangular building that once housed the Black Diamond gentleman’s club and more recently the short-lived Henley’s Sports Bar.

Luke Downing, the man behind Dough Bistro, has completely overhauled the venue from strip club hangover to art deco-inspired cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant.

You enter the staircase entrance through to a plush purpose-built first floor bar.

The previously blacked-out windows have been uncovered, there is a spirit-laden bar to your left and a series of red-brown buttoned leather booths ahead separated by ornate lamps depicting women holding spheres of light.

There are other interesting design features – the marble-effect pillar, gold mounted stag’s head, patterned feature wall and hanging retro clock – but the space is a little sparse and there are some more modern pieces of furniture that don’t really match the theme.

To an eclectic soundtrack featuring everything from Amy Winehouse and Pharrell to the The Smiths, we were given table service by a chatty, bow tie and braces-wearing bartender.

Vice and Virtue has an innovative menu featuring 12 unique cocktails, which change bimonthly. You can also request other mixes or indulge in bottled beers, ciders or wines.

We tried a couple of their mixes, with a rhubarb infused vodka, lemon rhubarb syrup, lavender foam and chocolate topped Rhubarb Triangle at £7.50 and a cherry infused whisky, grapefruit, vanilla sugar, rosemary and smoked ice Viced Old Fashioned at £10.

The former came beautifully presented, while the fragrant lavender and rhubarb tang balanced well before offering a nice chocolate note to finish.

The Viced Old Fashioned gave off a lovely grapefruit aftertaste following the strong, warming spirit. The ice ball with rosemary frozen inside was a really nice touch too.

Our bill came to £17.50. The drinks were impressive and showed real innovation, which is a good sign in the ever-more competitive Northern Quarter.

Comparisons will be drawn with nearby Blind Tyger but as much as both bars offer a low key atmosphere, they offer differing experiences.

Vice and Virtue could be Leeds’ next great hideaway bar.