Below Stairs, Leeds: hidden gem of a cocktail bar just a stone’s throw from Greek Street
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Greek Street is an elegant cocktail bar serving up inventive drink combinations.
“Blink and you’d miss it”, is how the barman described the aptly-named Below Stairs when we later told him this was our first visit to the cocktail bar.
Marked out by only a small rectangular sign, descending the stairs to the premises feels almost like entering a speakeasy - as though you’ve discovered a secret the rest of Leeds doesn’t know about yet.
We were met by an elegant, low lit bar with candles on every table and framed prints adorning the walls. Just a handful of tables were occupied when we arrived, yet instead of feeling empty the atmosphere was intimate and warm.
Bar staff quickly showed us to a table and ran us through the menu, which offers cocktails that change depending on seasons and a range of wines and beers for those fancying something lighter.
The cocktails were inventive and interesting, (not a pornstar martini in sight) ranging from whisky cocktails mixed with distilled carrot to cocktails with “Tomato infused Chardonnay Grape Skin Vodka” as their base.
Our server was extremely friendly and demonstrated extensive knowledge about the menu, while assuring us that they were happy to make any standard off-menu cocktails we wanted. We were immediately served water at the table to refresh ourselves while waiting for drinks.
We started with a “Lammas” - a port cocktail with, among other things, honeyed elderflower, kola nut apertif and vanilla, and an off-menu negroni. Both came promptly and were beautifully presented. The Lammas was extremely smooth, with the elderflower and vanilla flavours sweet and subtle, while the negroni packed a delicious punch.
The second round - a gin, cherry liqueur and chocolate combination and a tequila, raspberry and red pepper cocktail - were even more impressive. The former cocktail came with woodchips around the base which were set alight by our server to give the drink a woody aroma. The second cocktail was encrusted with waffle pieces to complement the punchy, slightly sour notes of the cocktail.
The presentation wowed us without feeling overly gimmicky, and our server was extremely attentive throughout the evening, coming over at regular intervals to check whether we wanted more drinks and to top up our water. For our final round, he even made us custom cocktails based on our preferences.
At £9 per cocktail, prices felt reasonable given the complexity of flavours, outstanding service and gorgeous setting. We left extremely impressed - and wondering why we’d never spotted it before.
Address: 12 S Parade, Leeds LS1 5QS
Telephone: 07837 888520
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-11pm, Fri 5pm-1am, Sat 2pm-1am, Sun 2pm-11pm