Small and but perfectly formed, a truly rare treat

Date:5th March 2015. Picture James Hardisty, (JH1007/49c) Barfly..........Blind Tyger, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds.
Date:5th March 2015. Picture James Hardisty, (JH1007/49c) Barfly..........Blind Tyger, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds.
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A Self-described ‘drinking den’, Blind Tyger is the kind of place the less discerning individual could easily miss.

Tucked above Sandinista on Cross Belgrave Street at the top of town, this is resolutely not a place for real ale fans or those looking for a raucous evening of dancing on tables or watching the football.

The Blind Tyger, from the same ownership stable as The Black Swan, Sandinista and Smokestack, is a refined a rarified place, something that becomes immediately apparent as you climb the stairs to the bar’s entrance.

Vaguely situationist slogans line each step before you enter a small but perfectly formed room of just a handful of tables.

It almost feels like the place is lit by candles. The lighting and decor have the aura of a 1920s Prohibition-era speakeasy.

However, far from being stocked with moonshine and other black market libations, the bar is well-stocked with top shelf material.

The friendly barman instructs us to take a seat and arrives shortly to offer us water, a small apéritif and cocktail menu.

I opt for the drink dubbed Blood and Strand, purely for the fact that it contains whisky. A heady concoction, balancing the sweetness of the whisky’s acrid taste, it is served in a frosted champagne glass, the kind I can imagine Gatsby toasting my health with.

My brother, along for the ride, opts for an Anchor Steam, one of the better-known craft ales. He overcomes his initial instinct to swig from the bottle and utilises the glass brought alongside it, the environs clearly getting the better of him as well.

For our next round I opt for a more simple Gin and Tonic while my brother sticks with the Anchor Steam.

All the while we are treated to some truly great music, played at an unobtrusive volume, from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Blind Willie Johnson.

Throughout the visit service is first class. A proper, old-fashioned barman, who knows just when to approach and imbued with just the right level of friendliness.

A minor criticism, and I am scrapping the barrel here, is that the bathrooms are shared with downstairs Sandinista and necessitate a walk downstairs and back in through the bar in order to return to your seat.

Blind Tyger, should you ever be in need of an appropriate venue for a first date, would be potentially the perfect option.

It will make you appear classy and in-the-know, as a decent and intriguing first impression you could ask for.

Equally it’s the perfect place to catch up with your brother on a Wednesday night.

All things to all men you might say.