Bar review: Wax Bar, Lower Briggate, Leeds

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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THERE aren’t many secret places in the middle of Leeds. Sheer numbers of visitors mean any little-known bars, for example, don’t stay that way for long. That’s probably especially so in New Briggate, one of Leeds’s most walked upon streets.

But the Wax Bar really does seem to have broken the mould. It’s quirky and easily missed but it has a mixed and loyal army of followers who love its range of drinks – especially beers – and its devotion to music.

Barfly.'The Wax Bar, New Briggate.'4 July 2017.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Barfly.'The Wax Bar, New Briggate.'4 July 2017. Picture Bruce Rollinson

From the outside, it’s easy to pass it by un-notiiced. It has a narrow frontage and you have to look closely or else you’ll miss it. But it’s reasonably deep and, for a pub which majors on music, it’s a good place to have a chat. The music complements, not dominates. It’s one reason why the Wax Bar has been here for so long. In this easy-come easy-go city, it has been here for an age. Six years. Not long in the grand scheme of things but believe me, in terms of modern-day bars in Leeds that’s established.

The Wax Bar’s name, apparently, is a tribute to the original wax records. Or it may be because people here like to wax lyrical. Either way, the name fits. It’s well placed, near theatres and the arena. It’s a fine place to warm up or to cool down or simply escape the busy streets.

We visited early on a Saturday evening and it was just getting busy.

Ordering here shouldn’t present too much of a challenge for the choice is just enough. There are 20 cocktails – all the standard fare, none of those Carry On-style saucy cocktails.

We settled on a house white wine (£4) and a bottle of Goose Island IPA (£4.40). The wine was fine and the IPA was splendid. It’s a Chicago beer said to recall a time when ales shipped from England to India were highly hopped to preserve their distinctive taste during the long journey. The result is a hop lover’s dream with a fruity aroma, off set by a dry malt middle and long hop finish.

For our second round my wife decided to try a cocktail – a pina colada (£6.50) and I tried Big Wave (another bottle of beer, this time £4.20’s worth).

The cocktail was good value. The Big Wave is from Kona Brewery, which originates in Hawaii.

Big Wave Golden Ale is a lighter-bodied ale with a tropical hop aroma and flavour. The use of caramel malt contributes to the golden hue of this beer. Of the two, I preferred this one.

It’s a fine bar and very welcoming. If not unique, it is certainly unusual with its offering of vinyl entertainment, a free jukebox and video tapes (remember those?) on a 1980s television set with inbuilt VHS. I remember wanting one of those as a child. The ambience is great. I’m not sure about the orange plastic seats but the lampshades made from fused cassette tapes makes up for it. A worthy addition to a city centre pub crawl and a chance to wallow in nostalgia.


Wax Bar, Lower Briggate, Leeds

Score: 4/5