The Watermark Bar review - Welcoming Leeds 'home bar' is a must for cocktail fans

Leeds has its fair share of cocktail bars and speakeasy inspired affairs but The Watermark Bar may well be able to claim the title of the first 'home bar'.

By YEP Reviewer
Saturday, 14th March 2020, 11:45 am

What began with two bartenders taking their work home, developing drinks menus and hosting parties in their impressively kitted kitchen has flourished into a fully fledged venue.

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The decor at The Watermark draws from the home set-up they had in those early days and there's still a strong focus on hospitality and collaboration after 18 months in their site on Cross Belgrave Street.

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The Watermark Bar was set up by two bartenders with a passion for cocktails. Picture: Simon Hulme

First impressions?

We were actually heading elsewhere but this place was buzzing so we thought it must be worth a visit.

Although it's not the biggest bar downstairs, there's plenty of character packed into the space and it feels like a cosy place to escape for a few hours.

A second lounge bar upstairs is home to comfy looking Chesterfields that could make leaving virtually impossible, but it's only open on selected nights.

The Absolute Waterman, topped with a grapefruit chocolate crisp, is one of the bar's own creations.

What’s the menu like?

The cocktails are the stars of the show, with around a dozen of the Watermark's own creations as well a selection of classics. The drinks here are refined, stylish and mercifully gimmick-free.

Glance up at the 'grape juice' chalkboard on the wall and you'll see half a dozen or so wines. There's also Guinness and Camden Hells on tap, plus more beers in the fridge.

If you're feeling peckish, there are nibbles like warm bread and oils, olives or pork pie and pickles; small plates including toasted crumpets, waffles and bruschetta, plus cheese and meat boards that are perfect for sharing.

So what did you have to drink?

I started off with the Absolute Wasteman - pineapple skin infused Fino sherry, Absolut vodka citrus, pineapple and sage funk juice, and soda with a grapefruit chocolate crisp. It was refreshing and well balanced, with the sage stopping it becoming too tart or sweet.

For my second, I went for another of the tall cocktails. This time, the Pa Pa L'Americano - Campari, balsamic strawberry shrub, lustau rose vermouth and soda. More floral than the first, it was like a delicious old-fashioned sweet.

How was the atmosphere?

This 'home bar' does feel like you've stumbled into someone's very cool house party, with a 70s rock soundtrack on the night we visited. There was a nice mix of customers too, ranging from a larger group of 20-somethings crowding round one of the central tables to couples in their 30s and 40s.

The service throughout our visit was excellent, with drinks orders taken at your table by the welcoming staff. There's clearly been a lot of thought and hard work put in, but

How much was the bill?

The final bill came to £27.50 for my two cocktails plus two pints of the Camden Hells for my other half. It was well worth give then quality of the drinks, the service and the overall experience.

Will you be going back?

Without a doubt. We're already talking about heading back in the hope of bagging a spot in the lounge upstairs.


Address: The Watermark Bar, 3 Cross Belgrave St, Leeds, LS2 8JP

Telephone: 07593 902413

Opening hours: Mon, 5pm-1am; Tues, 5pm-2am; Weds-Thurs, 5pm-3am; Fri, 5pm-4am; Sat, 3pm-4am; Sun, 5pm-1am



Value 8/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Service 9/10