The only upstairs venue in Hirst’s Yard is the mysterious 51% Bourbon Lounge. Mysterious to us because we’d never been and didn’t really know what to expect, except for lots of bourbon. We found that, as well as much more.
We’re not knowledgeable about bourbon by any means. We didn’t even know that to qualify as bourbon, the mash has to be at least 51% corn. (See what they did there with the name? Yeah, you probably did.) What we can tell you is that they have a lot of it — reportedly more than 100. And with regular tastings you’ll have lots of opportunity to try different kinds and learn all about them.
If you look around you’ll see kitschy American ads for Coca-Cola, Pep Boys and Chevrolet, beckoning you to take a nice long road trip down Route 66. And if you have a listen you’ll hear a soundtrack of 1950s/1960s American blues and rock’n’roll. It definitely bathes in the spirit of bourbon land, and pulls off a stateside vibe expertly. I should know; I’m an expert at being American after all.
Of course when a place has such a strong focus on one type of liquor, you never know what choice of beer you’re going to get. Here, however, they’ve provided more than a little something for the suds lover, offering up Sam Adams on keg, plus Brooklyn Lager, two Goose Islands and Sierra Nevada Pale in bottles. They keep to their American roots here, too. (I think I even spied a Miller Genuine Draft in the fridge.)
We absolutely loved the feel of 51%. The ruddy brick walls and exposed beams provide a homey atmosphere and on a quiet night you feel like you could be sitting in the loft of someone’s rustic cabin. We would definitely come back for the beer and a game of ping pong (yes, they have a ping pong table), and who knows? Maybe we’ll even get into bourbon. Leeds Bourbon Quest anyone?
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