Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music hall LeedsLeeds’ north quarter channels east London vibes with this trendy, bustling venue. Across Belgrave Music Hall’s three floors you’ll find food, live music, an art market, film screenings, a token french bulldog or two (of course) and the city’s most impressive roof terrace.

Serving a wide selection of cask ales, premium lagers and craft brews (including the venue’s own craft beer made with Northern Monk Brew Company), this is the ideal drinking spot for beer lovers. If you’re not into hops you can choose from straight up mixers, no-fuss slushy cocktails, a short wine list or get a caffeine fix with fresh coffee courtesy of Laynes Espresso. Canteen-style street food is served up by Dough Boys, the in-house “pizza pilgrims” who deliver a constantly changing menu of locally sourced products and vegan and gluten-free options. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Belgrave Feast which takes over the venue every second Saturday of the month to showcase independent food vendors from all around the country.

It’s easy to see Belgrave Music Hall as one of the most exciting spaces on the Leeds scene. Its east London-inspired décor with industrial touches and minimalist bold designs make the perfect backdrop for the eclectic roster of music, arts and film performances. The large roof terrace itself is enough to draw a crowd, decked out with fake grass, quirky heated huts, deck chairs and its own mini bar. Whether you’re up for food, booze or art, this is the ultimate year-round hangout for any culture vultures, foodies and beer enthusiasts.

Best Bars tip: Love dough? Pizza slices are half price until 7pm, Sunday – Thursday and 5pm Friday and Saturday.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Belgrave Music Hall Leeds beer garden

MOJO

MOJO Leeds“Good Times Forever” is a pretty weighty motto for a bar to live by, and whilst we know that 18 years isn’t quite forever, since its opening in 1996 MOJO has shown no sign of straying from its hardy original promise. This is a party bar that never disappoints.

Drinks stay true to the bar’s fun, fast-paced nature. There’s a decent, rotating beer selection, a short but sweet wine offering and quick-serve cocktails – based on the staff’s best tried and tested recipes. MOJO has always made a big deal about being fanatical about rum, which is shown through perfected signature mixes such the Rumirez — a rum twist on a Martinez, and the best-selling MOJO Hurricane that comes garnished with your own little voodoo doll. Hardshakes are also not to be missed. Try the Dr Kraken Float — Kraken spiced rum and Dr. Pepper with an ice cream float and cherry on top. Americana-style bar bites are made fresh on site including burgers, wings, garlic butter fries and mac & cheese. Gluten-free alternatives and dessert dishes make a nice addition to the menu.

Bar staff are not only hired for drinks expertise but also for their impressive knowledge of music, so it’s no surprise that MOJO’s soundtrack borders on the epic. Those behind the bar run the show here so anything goes from reggae to rock and roll, funk, soul and indie. It’s an eclectic mix but fine tuned to whatever mood the crowd’s in for … which is usually hard-core partying.

Best Bars tip: The bar’s Rhum Room is one of our favourite Leeds spaces. It houses 100 rums, including incredibly rare blends, hosts intimate rum masterclasses and has a fantastic weekend vibe.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

MOJO Leeds

Black Swan

Black Swan Leeds interiorThe masterminds behind Sandinista and Smokestack take on Call Lane with the elegant new opening, Black Swan. Moving away from the themed stylings of its infamous Latino and Prohibition-inspired sister bars, Black Swan is Yorkshire-bred through and through. It’s the perfect spot for laid-back drinking and despite being a 450-capacity, spacious two-floor venue — the bar maintains the intimate feel of a local pub with excellent service and incredible attention to detail.

The drinks menu not only boasts over 52 craft beers, six rotating draught ales, an on-site microbrewery and accessible two-page wine list, its cocktails also showcase the unquestionable talents of owner Si Ord’s bar team. Based on twists of classic serves, each cocktail recipe is credited to individual bartenders working for the group — from the sweet and moreish Mai Tai by Loren Holmes (Sandinista) to Niall McGloin’s (Smokestack) bitter kick Amaretto Sour. You’ll even find Mr Ord putting his own specs forward for an Espresso Martini pick-me-up. Catering for afternoon to late night boozing, you’ll find an upstairs restaurant serving up delicious, best of British cuisine — including kids menus and sharing platters — while the downstairs pizza kitchen cooks up light bites.

The bar’s exposed brick walls are decorated with varying designs — from Si’s antique suitcases and metal liquor ad signs to intricate hand-painted artwork by local artists. There are unique features wherever you look — such as the upstairs restored wood bar, array of vintage-style tables and chairs, projector beaming out old classic films and a roaring fireplace found in the Black Swan’s intimate side room. True to the venue’s heart, chilled out indie tunes play out in the day and turn into pumped up indie anthems, both old and new, as the night goes on.

Best Bars Tip: As tempting as it is to stay at the bar working your way through the drinks menu, the Pizza Kitchen cannot be missed. Its copper furnace serves up sourdough deliciousness until 10pm every night and the Yorkshire chorizo is one of our favourite Leeds’ bar bites to date.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Black Swan Leeds fireplace

The UK’s 15 Best Bars for Debauchery

It’s not always about sitting down for a sophisticated cocktail. Sometimes you just want to cut loose, drink shots and party down until the sun comes up. Here are the UK’s BEST bars for debauchery. Now whatever mischief you get yourselves into, it ain’t our fault … enjoy!

LONDON

Aces and Eights Tufnell Park1. Aces and Eights, Tufnell Park

You can chuck out some proper shapes here. And the pizza is pretty damned good.

casita shoreditch tequila con verdita2. Casita, Shoreditch

It might be one of London’s teeniest charms, but what Casita lacks in square footage it makes up for in personality. This is the kind of bar you pop into for a quick one and then end up cancelling all of your plans (happily so).

Covent Garden cocktail club3. Covent Garden Cocktail Club, Covent Garden

Live piano music, sing-a-long throwback tunes, crazy-looking cocktails and some of the happiest party people in town. If you’re not feeling up to it, nip down here and they’ll turn that frown upside down — guaranteed.

El Camion Soho4. El Camion, Soho

An industry mecca, El Camion is where the drinks trade comes to party late into the night and sink back tequilas.

Modern love old street5. Modern Love, Shoreditch

With blackboard walls, plenty of chalk, and an easygoing crowd bopping about to garage rock — don’t be surprised at the more adult content drawn up on the walls. You can even have a go at one-upping them yourself. And remember, downstairs is for dancing. End of.

Slim Jim's Liquor Store Angel6. Slim Jim’s Liquor Store, Angel

You know you’re in for some good ol’ fashioned trouble when you step into a bar and immediately need to peel your shoes off the floor. This is party-time Americana at its best and grungiest. It’s open seven days, always late, with a (sometimes) free jukebox cranking out classic tunes – from BRUUUUUUCE to Joy Division. So let’s get turbo-sh*tfaced on the bountiful bourbons. And we should probably tell you, if you give them your bra, they’ll give you a free drink. Now the decision is yours.

The Dolphin Hackney7. The Dolphin, Hackney

East London hipsters are a given, but those fond of a tipple – or twelve – come in by the bus-load after 3pm. Music-lovers are also in luck, as it often holds free events showcasing upcoming talent – from acoustic guitarists to spinning DJs.

trailer happiness notting hill8. Trailer Happiness, Notting Hill

The 70s basement décor is cheeky and cheerful, much like their staff and drinks. So when you’re looking to cut loose, there’s little better than this ode to Polynesia/Tiki-Americana, kitted out with (un)ironic shag carpets and Tretchikoff prints.

EDINBURGH

Garibaldi's Edinburgh
Kinga Sosnowska

9. Garibaldi’s

This cheeky spot is where Edinburgh comes to play. Garibaldi’s is a colourful Mexican-themed institution, beloved by all, boozed in by all, pole danced in by all. It’s late-night partying seven days a week, and it’s impossible not to shed your inhibitions here … the tequila shooters will make sure of that.

LEEDS

Neon Cactus Leeds fire10. Neon Cactus

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila … and then it all gets a bit hazy, but we’re told Neon Cactus is home to well over 70 types of this beautiful spirit. The vibrant-themed joint not only specialises in Mexico’s infamous liquor but also brings the nation’s love for traditional street food, upbeat vibes and late-night partying to Leeds’ Call Lane.

Oporto Leeds hot dog eating contest11. Oporto

Oporto is a must-visit for music lovers and late night revellers. This Leeds rock bar certainly lives up to its slogan/hazard warning of “Go Hard or Go Home”. Prepare yourself: you’re in for a night of heavy music, all night partying and shots, lots and lots of shots.

LIVERPOOL

Rum Aloha Liverpool12. Aloha

So Tiki it hurts, Aloha’s Polynesian carvings, colourful flowery wallpaper and bars set in wooden shacks transport guests to tropical climes where rum is king and Piña Coladas are served in fresh pineapples. This large basement bar attracts a fun crowd who are keen to dance in the packed room to classic songs and cheesy numbers.

El Bandito Liverpool Millionaire cocktail13. El Bandito

Open every night until 5am with all the tequila you could ever want. Viva Mexico!

MANCHESTER

Liars Club Manchester bartenders and fire14. The Liars Club

A bright and flaming Tiki den, The Liars Club is all about having a real good raucous time. From cheeky flaring tricks from the bartenders to bangin’ reggae tunes to bamboo huts – you’d struggle not to cut loose down here.

MOJO manchester bartender15. MOJO

Rock ‘n roll tunes, shots galore and dancing on the bar. The party doesn’t get any better (or more debaucherous) than this.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Neon Cactus

Neon Cactus Leeds barOne tequila, two tequila, three tequila … and then it all gets a bit hazy, but we’re told Neon Cactus is home to well over 70 types of this beautiful spirit. The vibrant-themed joint not only specialises in Mexico’s infamous liquor but also brings the nation’s love for traditional street food, upbeat vibes and late-night partying to Leeds’ Call Lane.

With a drinks menu stating “I don’t like tequila … I love it”, it’s no surprise that the list is tequila heavy. You’re spoilt for choice whether you like it straight up or in cocktail form. Chick-Quila cocktails such as the hibiscus- and passionfruit-flavoured Rose Mallo are served sweet and beautifully garnished, whereas if you want a stronger kick go for a Cabrones-style cocktail like the chilli-infused Donkey Punch. New to tequila? Just ask your expert bartender for a suitable match or if you’re a connoisseur, you’ll be satisfied with a unique pick of rare and special sips. There’s also a good selection of rum-based classics for those who haven’t quite made friends with tequila just yet.

Inspired by the traditional canteens and old town vendors of Mexico, the kitchen serves up street-inspired small plates, making the bar ideal for early evening dates and weekday catch-ups. However, as the night goes on and the DJ appears from a 15-foot-high booth playing all sorts of dancefloor-filling electro, throwback hip hop, R&B and the latest chart remixes, you’ll find bar bites are god-sent party fuel.

Best Bars tip: Ask for a tequila shot and you’re in for a treat. Not to give away any surprises but at Neon Cactus they’re served up the good ol’Mexican way. ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro amigos!

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Neon Cactus Leeds fire

Jake’s Bar and Still Room

jake's bar and still room leedsJake’s Bar is widely recognised as the King of the Leeds cocktail scene. Holding a firm 10-year residency on the Call Lane strip, it’s pretty much a local institution where drinkers start their night out with laid-back sips or end up to partying til the early hours on the packed out dancefloor. Whatever your intentions, the stairway down to this sophisticated yet tongue-in-cheek bar leads to fun times and seriously good drinks.

Since its opening, Jake’s has served over 582,400 Jagermeisters, muddled 8,320kg strawberries for best-selling Strawberry Daiquiris and sliced through 374,400 limes … it’s safe to say Jake’s specialises in catering for the thirsty. The bar nails classic serves with homemade syrups, bitters and liqueurs; and provides more complex concoctions with a drinks menu featuring barrel-aged cocktails, “Boat Drinks” and a Greatest Hits list. The Smoked Negroni is a definite pick for those who enjoy a bitter kick.

Just as the guys at Jake’s know what cocktails you’ll love, they also know what music you’ll be in the mood for. The venue’s soundtrack ranges from chilled out evening sounds to live DJ sets and an eclectic range of crowd pleasing dance tunes, old school remixes and your favourite indie anthems. In between drinking and dancing, refuel with (seriously delicious) food served up from hand picked pop-ups taking guest slots in the kitchen.

Best Bars tip: Test out Tabitha. She’s the copper pot in the bar’s still room brewing up Jake’s latest alcoholic masterpieces. Go local with The Tea Cup – an in-house Yorkshire tea-based creation served long with cloudy lemonade and fruit garnishing.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Jake's Bar and Still Room Leeds bar

Art’s Cafe

Art's Cafe LeedsFirst opening its doors in 1994, Art’s is Leeds’ original café-bar with a well-established presence as the stylish, understated cool member of the Call Lane crew. With walls covered in local art and a laid-back bistro feel, the venue provides a chilled out setting to both drink and dine.

The bar’s drinks menu might not be extensive but it’s carefully crafted and reflective of the local cuisine and nature. The wine list is informative and descriptive, making it easy for you to decide if you fancy a “dry, herbaceous, aromatic” white or a “spicy, peppery and warming” red. If you’re feeling indulgent, there’s a decent champagne and sparkling wine selection or you could keep it local by choosing from the long list of bottled beers sourced from Leeds and Ilkley breweries. House cocktails specialise in classics and pick-me-ups such as the signature Art of Mixing – a refreshing spritz-gin-cucumber combo or an Espresso Martini for a more bitter caffeine kick. Whatever your drink of choice, it’ll go down well with the chef’s dishes that perfect British cuisine and offer up some great veggie options too.

Winning two consecutive awards for Best Café/Bar, Art’s plays its part in representing the best of the Leeds scene. Alongside local drinks and cuisine, the café-bar hosts regular six-week-long exhibitions for regional artwork. Restaurant and bar staff are not only welcoming and friendly, but also present your chilled, relaxed day or upbeat evening soundtrack.

Best Bars tip: Heavy weekend? Stop by on a Sunday for the perfect hangover cure — a roast complete with gigantic Yorkshire puds the size of your head.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Arts Cafe Leeds