There’s a new speakeasy in town. With a very unassuming entrance, dim-lit booths and a distinctive you’ve-gotta-be-pretty-cool-to-know-this-is-even-here vibe, it certainly lives up to its name. We hadn’t heard of it opening even though we like to think of ourselves as having our fingers on the pulse of drinking spots in Leeds, so we were grateful to get a tip.
Their pride and joy is their cocktail menu, which we obviously aren’t qualified to comment on intelligently, but some seem just downright silly. One of the descriptions is just an Oscar Wilde quote. Another features the mysterious ingredients of popcorn syrup and popcorn mist (?), and when someone at the table next to us ordered one we definitely got wafts of popcorn flavour!
As for the beer, it’s a reasonable selection of craft beers and bottled ales that we’ve come to expect from a place like this, thanks to the craft beer revolution: Sierra Nevada, Kernel, Odell’s, Bristol Beer Factory, Harviestoun, and Anchor. No casks or kegs here, and they could definitely stand to turn their fridges back a few notches as the beer was served way too cold. They do offer table service and the staff are very friendly, which isn’t always the case in pretentious places like this.
Though the atmosphere wasn’t exactly my pint of ale, I think they’ve nailed exactly what they’re going for. William-Morris-like wallpaper, fixtures made of animal heads, and lots of little antique embellishments lend to the speakeasy feel, and there’s even a hymn board with the code to get back in from where the toilets are (necessary to keep Sandinista’s clientele from just wandering in). The prices are about what we would have guessed, from £3.60 to £6 and the good ones all being around £5.
For us, being sandwiched between one of our old favourites and one of our new favourites (Sandinista! and Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, respectively) will always work against it but we reckon it will definitely appeal to folks who are looking for some interesting cocktails served up in a super-cool atmosphere.
Hello, Emily. My name is Craig Mahon I’m the Assistant Manager of Blind Tyger. I’m sorry Blind Tyger wasn’t to your liking. We’ve taken on board your criticism regarding the beer fridges and we now have separate fridges for Larger and Ale set at the appropriate temperatures, thanks for pointing that out.
I’m disappointed that you found the bar to be pretentious as that certainly isn’t the impression we wish to give our customers, we strive to offer friendly service and an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. The reason for the door code isn’t to keep Sandinista clientele out, merely so we can control the amount of people we have in the venue. We have a relatively small capacity and we couldn’t support the influx we would get from Sandinista on weekends without exceeding the legal capacity for the room.
As for the menu, the reason we don’t provide a blurb for the Blind Mary as we felt the suffix ‘Mary’ would make it clear the drink was a twist on a Bloody Mary. We decided to include the Oscar Wilde quote as we have adopted it as something of a slogan for the bar. As for the Popcorn Mai-Tai it is become more an more common in cocktail bars over the past decade to find ‘mysterious’ ingredients on menus as bartenders strive to offer customers a unique and interesting drinking experience. I have certainly seen much stranger ingredients than popcorn on cocktail menus! The reason for the mist is that the aroma it creates increases the flavor of popcorn that the customer experiences and means we don’t have to resort to increasing the amount of popcorn syrup in the drink which would overly sweeten it. While there is certainly an element of theatrics to the mist nothing we do is purely for show and I can assure you that these techniques that may seem pretentious to some all contribute to the balance and flavor of our cocktails.
We hope if you decide to visit us again you will have a more pleasant experience.
King regards, Craig and all the team at Blind Tyger.
Hi Craig! Thank you so much for taking the time not only to read our review but also to respond so thoroughly! We appreciate the efforts with the fridge so I’m sure the next time we visit the ales will be served at optimum temperature.
I didn’t mean to imply that we didn’t enjoy our visit to Blind Tyger. We were treated exceedingly well by the staff and would not hesitate to come again, perhaps. When I called the place “pretentious” I honestly did not mean that as an insult, but rather just a description of something I don’t personally look for when I’m going out for drinks. I like to think that our regular readers know where our biases lie, and they are definitely toward beer first, atmosphere and amenities second, and sometimes a super-cool speakeasy vibe just isn’t our scene.
(It’s also worth mentioning that if my partner in crime had written up this particular review he probably would have also said the atmosphere was pretentious but that he loves pretentious things!)
To be honest, we didn’t get that a Blind Mary was a bloody mary, but that’s not so surprising since we don’t know our way around cocktails at all. I’m sure more seasoned connoisseurs would get it right away.
I think Blind Tyger has a lot to offer the nightlife scene in Leeds and it will certainly appeal to a huge number of people. No hard feelings, I hope! Continue to serve up those popcorn mai-tais full of pride and love for who you are!
I’m not quite up to your numbers but have been to around 150 different bars (not simply renamed bars) in Leeds over the years. Blind Tyger is one I keep coming back to, along with a few others such as Belgravia’s rooftop garden, The Office and Decanter. There are plenty of nice bars around but if I’m after a relaxing drink or a quiet chat with some jazzy music, it’s my bar of choice. I’ve tried a few of their cocktails and have, to date, not been disappointed. I appreciate the nibbles, too. They used to serve a kind of palate cleanser as you arrived which was a nice gesture, but pretty awful and they appear to have knocked it on the head. I can see how the place can be perceived as pretentious, but I enjoy being waited on. There are so few classy places around, it’s nice to have something different. Now I’ve found your site I’ll keep checking in. I also try to keep up with every new opening in town. Thanks for mentioning Cha Lounge. Missed that one. All the best. Mike