Yorkshire's Independent Restaurant Guide

The Maven Cocktail Bar

We discovered The Maven Cocktail Bar a few months ago while ‘researching’ the pubs and bars of Leeds. Well, someone’s got to do it, and we think you’ll love it, we did.

Finding it is the first challenge. So cool it doesn’t even bother with a sign but we can tell you that it’s tucked away behind the Corn Exchange at the top end of Call Lane by Kirkgate Market.

The lack of signage could mean The Maven is so ultra-laid back it doesn’t need to bother or else it’s an inverted publicity stunt, a way of actually drawing more attention to itself. Whatever the reason, when you’ve climbed the narrow staircase and entered through the black double doors, you can’t help feeling how clever of you to find this secret exclusive, and delightful little cocktail bar.

Inside it’s as savvy as the outside: blue/grey walls, chandeliers, a scattering of tables and chairs, banquettes and the bar. Pull up a chair, put your handbag on the hook, and watch the dudes in braces, chopping, shaking and mixing from the mighty bank of bottles behind them. It runs high and long – 47 brands of gin is the trump card  alongside rums, tequilas, agave syrup, curacao and the rest. Forget sticky drinks with umbrellas, this is the real deal.

Our concoctions were stunning. Elder Lady was as pure and refreshing as a cocktail gets mixing gin, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice and served sweetly in a dainty china teacup. Reggae Punch was more in-your-face with rum, lime, orange and pineapple juice. There are a dozen more cocktails on the regularly changing list, all served in a bespoke glass or in the case of Gin Tea, hot from a teapot.

The Maven is the work of South African born Claudio Antonino, ex bar manager at Harvey Nix whose ambition was a different sort of cocktail bar for Leeds. We reckon he’s done it.

First Floor, 1 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 7DH T: 0113 243 6047Open:  Mon-Thur 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat 5pm-4am; Sun 5pm-2am