The Winners and Shakers at Cocktails in the City, Leeds


Last week saw the first northern edition of Cocktails in the City in Leeds as they took over the town hall for two evenings and invited 20 of the cities best and brightest bars to create and impress the sold out crowds!

In attendance was yours truly, and after being invited to judge the best cocktail of the show with the likes of Craig Harper of Fever Tree, I had the chance to experience all 20 creations. So, lets see who came up with some gems!

First up were Pintura Basque Kitchen and Bar with their creative collaboration with Gin Mare. Coming up with the ‘G&T Old Fashioned’, they combined the Spanish based gin with a 1724 tonic reduction, grapefruit bitters, a Gimlet ice ball alongside orange peel and basil leaf. Hotel Chocolat and their Roast & Conch bar decided to combine their in-house Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Bitters to create the ‘Hotel Chocolat Old Fashioned‘, which also saw orange and Angostura bitters blended with rum and honey.

The Botanist were up next, with their idea of using Belvedere with elderflower liqueur, red amaranth , mint, jasmine syrup and lime juice, all topped with lemonade to create the ‘Botanist’. The Chez Mal at Malmaison kept it simple and classic with ‘A Toast to Mr B‘, in homage to Dick Bradsell, the creator of the Bramble cocktail. They combined Disaronno with raspberry syrup, creme de cassis and raspberries.

MEATLiquor came to the event with ‘Too Early For Cider’ with a combination of Early Times bourbon, orange juice, lemon, maple syrup, Angostura Bitters and Hobo cider! It’s not all about cider though as next door, Bar Soba joined forces with Tsingtao to create The ‘Shandong Shandy’. This saw Tsingtao, coconut syrup, Kwai Feh, lemon juice and lemonade come together, finished with lime leaves, ginger and lemongrass.

New gin bar The Hedonist Project and their Old Tom’s Kitchen brought with them Tanqueray 10 to create the ‘Roasted Barley Bramble‘. This saw the gin, lemon, sugar mix together, complete with a lemon foam and bramble jam garnish. Next were The East Village with ‘Amistat’, a recipe that saw Bacardi Carta Oro come together with Woodford Reserve, Amontillado sherry and coffee liqueur.

‘Figin’ Hell It’s Hot‘ came up next as the Jones Bar Group offered up Pampero Anejo Especial with lime, fig liqueur, chilli infused Velvet Falernum and egg white, whilst Jake’s Bar and Still partnered with Jack Daniel’s to bring you a ‘Cup’ o’ Jack’ that saw the whiskey blend with coffee liqueur, homemade vanilla syrup and chocolate liqueur.

Palm Sugar of Chaophraya partnered with Whitley Neill to create the ‘Pretty Little Ginger’. This saw the gin combine with Licor 43, Galangal syrup and lemon, complete with Chill Galangal flowers and spiced chocolate bitters. Next came the ‘Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned’ with Tipplesworth that featured the American whiskey with sugar, bitters and an orange zest.

The Pogues Irish whiskey joined with The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes to create ‘A Fairytale in New York’. This saw the brand show off the whiskey, Bailey’s, Irish coffee, vanilla gum and Irish chocolate! The ’20 Year Rum Punch’ saw Mojo and Appleton come together to create a blend of Appleton Estate Signature Blend, lime juice, Jamaican Sorrel Squash water and flaming cinnamon with half a lime!

Smokestack and El Dorado joined forces for the ‘Diamond Hopper’. This saw the 3 year old expression of rum combine with lime, coconut water, white chocolate liqueur and apricot, cardamom and Demerara sugar. Following this was to be the ‘Cherry Poppin‘ from Almost Famous as they came to the table with Wild Turkey, lime juice, hibiscus and wild cherry cordial, pineapple and cranberry juice, Pepsi and a dash of bitters.

The last couple of cocktails saw Skylounge team up with Ron Zacapa to create the ‘Cloud 13’ creation. This saw the rum come together with Peach de Vigne, lemon, caramel syrup, apple juice and orange flower water, whilst The Alchemist came to the town hall with Patron to create the ‘Mexican Gun Slinger’ which saw the tequila go with cherry brandy, Benedictine, L&G and grenadine.

Manahatta were also present with Santa Teresa as they came up with the ‘Passion Punch’. This has both the Linaje and Rhum Orange expressions of the rum with Peche de Vigne, guava, lemon juice and pineapple and passion fruit syrup. Cielo Blanco kept it Mexian with El Jimador and ‘Bandero de Mexico’. This saw the tequila with lime, triple sec, coconut and pineapple juice.

Not to be out-done, Roxy Leisure created ‘Curd It Be Magic’ as they teamed with Absolut. This saw their vanilla expression blended with limoncello, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, lemon curd and Marscapone cheese. Revolution de Cuba though went with Bacard Carta Blanca and  showed off the ‘Maid in the Shade’, which saw the rum bring with it Sauvignon Blanc, sugar and lemon, complete with a cucumber ribbon.

Lastly, The Cocktail Trading Company brought with them Funkin Mixed Berry and created the ‘East End Dicky Bird’, which had within Beefeater gin, rhubarb cordial, Bergamot sherbet and black pepper.

In the end though, there would only ever be a top three, and from that just the one winner. So here we go –

1) The Botanist with Belvedere
2) MEATLiquor with Early Times
3) Bar Soba with TSINGTAO

Congratulations to The Botanist and their idea of using Belvedere with elderflower liqueur, red amaranth , mint, jasmine syrup and lime juice, all topped with lemonade to create the ‘Botaniast’! Next up? Manchester on May 19th and 20th. Tickets available via

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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