What a delightful rabbit warren of a place, full of quirkiness and wonder, mismatched furniture and all sorts of different textures, with enough crevices in which to secrete oneself for an hour or so while you escape from the grey rivers of banality which flow endlessly beyond its windows.
Not that I notice the windows, I was too taken with the decor and the opulent leather booths opposite the bar. Although the high-backed burnished Chesterfield at the end of the row called out as a passed (next time, I vowed silently in my head), I ended up settling into one of its other charming little corners.
It has that serene, clean, just-stepped-out-of-the-barbers feel to it, with clear, clean-cut lines delineating the decor, some of which seem to bend space-time: such as long, curving sofas, giant clocks on the wall, quirky mirrors and other internal oddities, such as a huge internal arch, that make you want to stop and stare and consider why they are there. The overall effect is it makes you feel as though you have stepped into an Alice in Wonderland movie.
Immaculately turned out staff go with the flow, as it were, sauntering around the place with just the right amount of self-aware sophistication and panache, even down to the way they present the menus. They don’t just plonk them down or let them fall where they may, there’s a certain theatrical flourish to what would otherwise be a reminder of the mundane, a delicate twist of the wrist at the right moment. I almost expected mine to purr with Gallic aplomb: “Et voila!” but he didn’t, he wasn’t French for a start. I digress. But, you see, that’s what places like this bring you to: digression, contemplation, those rare moments of stasis we slip into when the world allows.
But enough about aesthetics and abstraction, I actually went here to eat and drink. I began with half an Innis & Gunn (£2.65), an insanely well crafted lager if ever there was one, full bodied and packed with zingy hops and a nice mellow treacly finish, plus it looks like polished mahogany and is infinitely better on draft than it is from a bottle.
I couldn’t help but try the food also and seeing as they did tapas I went for three starters for £11: patatas bravas, bruschetta and chicken teriyaki. All good.
The Liquorist, Leeds runs parties and theme nights and, as if you couldn’t guess, makes a specialism of its drinks, not least the range of cocktails, which is extensive. Here you can try their take on an espresso Martini, the Mochachini Martini and the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Absolut Citron infused Honey Bee, or sharing cocktails for four from £20. If it’s a choice between the blue pill and the red pill, personally, I’d take the red pill.
The Liquorist, Greek Street, Leeds