Bar review: The East Village, Hyde Park, Leeds

NEIGHBOURHOOD BAR: The East Village is hidden away in the terraced streets of Hyde Park.
NEIGHBOURHOOD BAR: The East Village is hidden away in the terraced streets of Hyde Park.
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Pints of Strongbow in plastic glasses, cheap shots and multibuy deals for VK Ice were the very essence of student bars when I was at university.

But in an age where craft ale, gin menus and prosecco are the done thing, it should come as no surprise to find some neighbourhood bars in the most popular student suburbs have been canny enough to follow suit.

The East Village takes a bit of finding in Hyde Park’s warren of terraces and is overshadowed by the frontage of a supermarket next door but, student or not, it certainly merits a visit if you’re a local or are catching a gig at the Brudenell Social Club or a film at the nearby Hyde Park Picturehouse.


Inside is dimly lit with the exposed brick and gig posters you would expect from what is advertised as a new wave dive bar, but that doesn’t mean the best you can expect in the way of drinks is just a bottle of lager or a cheap tequila.

It only takes a quick glance at the array of spirits and liqueurs on the packed shelves behind the bar to see these guys take their drinks pretty seriously.

Up on the back wall there’s a handy diagram of classics that seems to serve as a permanent menu, then there’s a separate printed one on clipboards dotted around the bar that sets out specials and offers.

We arrived just as the 6pm-8pm daily happy hour was drawing to a close but this doesn’t seem the kind of placed that pedantically clock watches and our friendly bartender said we could still take advantage of the happy hour offer of two of the same cocktail for £10.

Since it was January when we visited, there was also a special deal on selected cocktails for £5 between 8pm and midnight.

I started with the Passionfruit Collins, a refreshing twist on the gin classic that was served over crushed ice in a tall glass. I could happily imagine drinking these in the outside seating area in summer if it was somewhere a more scenic.

My next was a Repeat Prescription, not included in either of the offers but absolutely worth the extra £2. A pretty blend of gin, hibiscus and passionfruit topped with frothy egg white, it tasted as good as it looked.

I always enjoy watching the skill that goes into these drinks and was able to do so from our nearby table as the barman chatted to my friend.

Not one for cocktails, he had stuck with schooners of the Heneiken Extra Cold served up in frosted glasses – another nice touch from this unpretentious little bar.

With quality drinks, great music, a laidback atmosphere and good value prices, this place could hold its own against many of Leeds’ best loved bars if it were up against them in the city centre .